Korean President Park Geun-hye called for collective efforts to connect Eurasian countries more closely by linking roads and railways to realize what she called the “Silk Road Express” running from South Korea to Europe via North Korea, Russia, and China.
On October 18, President Park made the proposal in an international conference on Eurasian cooperation held in Seoul. She pointed out that the Eurasian continent has the potential to become a huge single market that could rival the European Union if economies in the continent are tied more closely by making a more favorable environment through freer exchanges.
Park went on to say, “Building a new Eurasia is not just an ideal nor a dream. It is a realizable goal,” adding, “A new Eurasia will provide us with new opportunities for investment and jobs.”
As a way to realize the goal, she suggested to make the “Silk Road Express” starting from South Korea’s Busan city through North Korea, Russia, China, Central Asia, and Europe, restoring the disconnected distribution networks across Eurasia to overcome physical barriers hindering their exchanges.
In fact, President Park has shown special interest in the railroad idea. When she met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit meeting in Moscow last month, she said she has always dreamed of such a transnational railway. It is expected that Park will bring up the issue when Putin visits South Korea next month.
President Park also called for establishing energy networks to connect energy infrastructure such as power networks and gas and oil pipelines among Eurasian nations, by saying, “We should push for Eurasian energy cooperation in a win-win manner, including joint developments of shale gas in China as well as oil and gas in East Siberia.” Earlier at the APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia on October 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that he might consider the construction of a gas pipeline beneath the East Sea in order to export Russian natural gas to South Korea.
President Park didn’t forget to mention that such visions would be realized only when the peace in the region is secured by saying, “Threats to peace and security are the biggest barrier to economic, trade, and cultural exchanges among Eurasian countries, which should be solved in advance.”
Park added that South Korea will work hard to promote peace on the divided Korean Peninsula and in the region through her two trademark foreign policies, the Korean Peninsula Trust Process and Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiatives, which accentuate a step-by-step trust-building process among related parties.