”States’ political relations could break in a few hours,
economic ones in some months,
but cultural relations could not be destroyed even after centuries”.
Tasin Gemil, Director of the Institute of Turkish Studies, Babeș – Bolyai University,
Romania’s first Ambassador in Azerbaidjan (1998 - 2003),
Romania’s Ambassador in Turkmenistan (2004-2008)
An ample project for the third millenium:
“Great Silk Road”
In September 1990, in Vladivostok, in the speech given at "The Asia-Pacific Countries: Dialogue, Peace, Cooperation", Eduard Shevardnadze presented a large project: “The Great Silk Road”. The last foreign minister of the Soviet Union, the architect of the end of the Cold War, who then became President of Georgia, continued to think globally in the new international political layout.
The first step consisted of a regional project development embedded in this great global strategy: TRACECA, a transport passageway between Central Europe and South West Asia, crossing the East of Europe, Black Sea, Caucasus, Caspian Sea, Central Asia.
In 1996, Romania did not take part in the TRACECA project, but President Emil Constantinescu resorted to the meetings with political leaders to demonstrate the importance of our country regarding its emplacement at the intersection of the main Antiquity transport routes: the North-South corridor, between the Baltic and Aegean Sea, known as “The Amber Road” and “Silk Road” and the East-West corridor, a connection between China and Eastern Europe.
On July 15th, 1998, in his speech at the U. S. Congress, the Romanian President pleaded for the involvement of the USA in the “Silk Road” revival and his request obtained a positive answer. The U.S. Congress funded the feasibility studies for gas and oil transportation from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe through Romania and, further through Slovenia and Croatia and after Slobodan Milosevic’s dismission through the other ex-Yugoslavian countries. During a visit in Georgia, just few days before the visit in the USA, President Emil Constantinescu along with President Eduard Shevardnadze initiated the ferryboat line Constanța – Poti.
In September 1998, during the Baku high level international conference “The Ancient Silk Road Revival”, with the participation of 32 presidents, on behalf of Romania Emil Constantinescu signed the “Comprehensive Agreement regarding the International Transport for the Development of the corridor Europe – Caucasus – Asia”.
“Constanța harbour on the Silk Road”
Cultural dimension for an economic project
The National Company “Maritime Harbours Administration”, “Constanța Harbour Business Association” and “Silk Road Association” organized on Friday, June 22nd 2018, a round table on the topic “Constanța Harbour on the Silk Road”. Emil Constantinescu, the President of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, one of the project’s initiators spoke about its cultural dimensions and described the endeavours made during his presidency to include Romania on the “Silk Road”.
The former Romanian President’s presence at the round table taking place at the Marine Station marked two decades from his speech in the Congress in which he pleaded for U.S. involvement in this visionary project. Two decades from the opening of the ferryboat line Constanța – Poti. And two decades from the signing of the “Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for Development of the Corridor Europe - the Caucasus - Asia”.
Emil Constantinescu, Chairman of the Scientific Board of Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization:
“Great projects remain in history because they create national, regional and international solidarities”
I am here as the Chairman of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization. The question arising would be: Why was the chairman of an institute of scientific research of the highest level, an institute of advanced studies, invited to a meeting of businessmen and those in charge with running a harbor?
Solidarity against something creates divisions and sets the society apart. Only solidarity for something unites nations, peoples and manages to steer the world forward.
The project of the" Silk Road" revival, which has been forgotten in time and which China revived through its economical component and that of infrastructure funds, shall survive, should it receive also a cultural dimension, as I explained before on the 27th, the 28th and the 29th. Businessmen need to add visionary thinking to this offer. Their efforts must not end with the end-of-the-year balance and short-term gains. Their efforts must comprise also the support of academia, scientific research and the cultural field.
It is what I expect of and hope you would be doing. And, should you do this, the Institute I run and all the international boards and think-tanks I am a member of, shall join you in this endeavor. As a result, this project that you are today debating upon shall not only become a local project, but rather a great European one. Thank you!
“Romania at the crossroad”
Partnership between the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization and the Naval Academy Mircea cel Batran”
On June 3rd, 1997, at the Naval Academy “Mircea cel Bătrân”, the Romanian President, Emil Constantinescu publicly launched the program “Romania at the crossroad” whose main goal was to place Constanța Harbour on the Caucasian oil route to western Europe and first of all to align Romania at the regional project TRACECA, part of the global strategy of the “Silk Road” revival. President Constantinescu’s unceasing concern would triumph at the Helsinki Conference on September 1997 when a new contour regarding transportation roads was laid and Romania was included on European corridors’ maps. The interventions regarding Constanța - Trieste oil pipelines constructions included in the Inogate project endeavoured by the European Community in 1996 to assist the gas and oil transport systems from the Caspian Sea area to Europe covered also a large part of the programme “Romania at the crossroad”. On the same month of 1997 during the official visit in China, Emil Constantinescu presented to President Jiang Zemin and to Prime – Minister Li Peng the progresses achieved between Central Asia and Central Europe on the transport area and additionally the Silk Road revival project conceived by Eduard Shevardnadze and adopted by the presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Romania.
21 years later at the Naval Academy Mircea cel Bătrân, Emil Constantinescu, the President of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization and the Naval Academy Commander Octavian Tărăbuță signed a partnership agreement regarding common activities included in the multiannual project “Dobrogea. A Bridge between Extreme Orient and Occident”.
Octavian Tărăbuță, commander of Naval Academy “Mircea cel Bătrân”
“By their vocation marine officers are open to universality”
“Sailors get in contact with all world cultures and civilisations and take from them what is valuable. But we do not only benefit from that, we also deliver culture. We understand that your project and institution aims are common to many of our objectives. This partnership honours us, and we hope to be helpful.”
Emil Constantinescu, Chairman of the Scientific Board of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization.
“The philosophy of getting united for a major project”
“I’m the only one alive among the founders of the Revival Silk Road primary project.
In June 1997 I selected “Mircea cel Bătrân” Marine Institute to start the most important project of my presidential mandate: “Romania at the crossroad”. After my election, President E. Shevardnadze suggested to work with him on this project, the greatest challenge for the XXI century. During a conference dedicated to a good cooperation at the Black Sea we met in Istanbul along with the President of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel and the President of Azerbaijan, Heidar Alyev and had a discussion on this matter. Further, we co-opted the President of Kazahstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. It was not a casual diplomatic relationship, but one to serve a great project. It was essential that the new ambassador had academic dignity and taking into consideration the fact that it was a Turkish language area, he had to speak it fluently. To become ambassador, Professor Tasin Gemil resigned his contract with Ankara University. This means to serve an idea.
The other initiators invested me with the mission of presenting the “Silk Road“revival project in China, Japan and the United States of America. During the US visit, I had to put the case into discussion in front of the American Congress, an honour reserved in the last 200 years for only 3 presidents from Eastern Europe: Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and myself, and I pleaded in that speech for US involvement in the revival of the “Silk Road” project. One year later, during a Conference organised in the U.S. Senate along with the other involved presidents we laid emphasis on the cultural component.
The first steps made were economically-oriented, took shape in the form of the presidential project “Romania at the crossroad” and added Romania on the map of the European transport passageways. This year we celebrate 20 years since the “Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for Development of the Corridor Europe - the Caucasus - Asia” was signed.
The opening of the ferryboat line Constanța – Poti was the immediate effect. Closed at the end of my presidency it was later reopened by the next presidents. Unfortunately, the projects TRACECA and INOGATE, Constanța – Trieste pipeline whose feasibility study was accomplished with American support came to a standstill. And this proves how hard it is to find the philosophy to get united for a major project. This lack of solidarity in the political area can be rebuilt in an academic environment. It is the only hope for those engaged in scholastic activities.”
Dan Grigorescu, Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization:
“A part of Levant lies under water and nobody else could better study this segment of history”.
“At the time of the initiation of the “Romania at the crossroad” project I was director of “Tempus” programme projected by the European Commission for future member countries. Each of them had the obligation to organize a meeting with the other states and in 1997, it was Romania’s turn. We decided that the event should take place at Constanța in partnership with the three local Universities: “Ovidius” University, “Mircea cel Bătrân” Naval Academy and “Civil Marine University”. I resorted to the presence of President Emil Constantinescu in Constanța as he was starting the “Romania at the crossroad” project and I asked him to join the meeting along with the members of the “Tempus” programme. Representatives of the “Mircea cel Bătrân” Naval Academy invited us offshore on the “Mircea” brig; it was an extraordinary moment.
I realised then that scholastic partnerships could lead to very useful ideas and even to the introduction of new domains on the traditional curricula. This faith guides our institution and the projects dedicated to Dobrogea area as a representative type for Levant. We enjoy the partnership with the Naval Academy “Mircea cel Batran”, a partnership focused on marine archaeology. A part of Levant lies under water and nobody else could better study this segment of history.”
Tasin Gemil, Director of the Institute of Turkish Studies, Babeș – Bolyai University
‘’Romania is located at the crossroad of the Silk Road and Amber Road and it has the chance to be in the centre of these future developments’’.
“The task I received from President Emil Constantinescu consisted in the development of relationships with Azerbaidjan based on mutual understanding. I focused my research on the cultural area. I used to tell reporters that states’ political relationships could break in a few hours, economic ones in some months, but cultural relations could not be destroyed even after centuries. I offered the example of relationships with Iran. Although this country is now on the opposite side, near Armenia, cultural relationships are ongoing. This is why this new developing project focuses on culture, under the auspices of President Emil Constantinescu and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization.
In 1995 I organised a successful symposium at the National History and Archaeology Museum of Constanța, entitled ”The Black Sea, confluence of civilizations”. The Black Sea expands from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. These three seas cannot be divided, as they were not divided all along their history. The economic and cultural development of these areas was secured by two great roads that cross the Black Sea. Romania is at the crossroad of the Silk Road and the Amber Road, bearing the chance to be in the centre of these future developments.”