On September 27, 2018, the first Geocultural Forum was held in St. Petersburg. This event aimed at strengthening cultural exchanges between Russia, Central Asia and China. This event organized by “Dialogue of Civilizations” was sponsored by China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and the University of Saint Petersburg.
The conference focused mainly on the intercultural dialogue between the Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative and Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership. This last project was announced by President Putin at Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016, to strengthen relations among states of the Eurasian continent and support connectivity projects.
However, this partnership should not be regarded as a competing project to the BRI, in which Russia is already involved, but as a complementary initiative to improve connectivity between Russia, Europe and Asia. Participants to this conference analysed the actions to carry out at the cultural level to improve mutual awareness among Eurasian people.
The inaugural session of the Geocultural Forum was dedicated to inspiring speeches by Ms Svetlana Smirnova, chairwoman of the Council of the People’s Assembly of Russia, Dr. Nicolay Kropachev, Rector of the University of St. Petersburg, Dr. Vladimir Yakunin, chairman the Institute Dialogue of Civilizations, and Mr Wang Jiarui, President of the Soong Ching Ling Foundation. They all praised the good relations between China and Russia and pledged to work for the strengthening of cultural exchanges in Eurasia.
The afternoon session was devoted to presentations given by several researchers on themes related to cultural exchanges between Russia and China. Dr. Sebastien Goulard, coordinator of OBOReurope gave a speech about the multilateral dimension of the BRI.