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Turkey and China to revive Silk Road as a tourism destination

Turkic states agree tourism package along Silk Road, while Chinese President proposes new economic plans with Arab States
Man walking along a road at a pasture in Kazakhstan situated along the ancient Silk Road (AFP)

The leaders of four Turkic states agreed to establish the historic Silk Road caravan route through Turkey as a tourist destination.

Turkic Council Summit leaders agreed on Thursday to set up a modern Silk Road tour package as part of a range of schemes to reinforce cooperation among member states comprising Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

With an aim to consolidate mutual economic dependence and socio-cultural engagement among Turkic countries, delegates also decided to establish a transport coordination board and regional Turkic diaspora centres. 

At the two-day summit in Turkey’s south western province of Mugla, Turkish President Abdullah Gul underlined the importance of tourism in terms of economic and human cohesion for the countries along the Silk Road.

Participants stressed the importance of tourism to contributing to the Turkic people’s ability to get to know each other more closely. Acccordingly, the council announced a plan to establish centres for the Turkish-speaking diaspora in France, Germany and the United States at the end of the month in order to strengthen ties between Turkic communities.

The Turkic Council was established at the first summit in Nakhichevan 2009 with an aim to establish comprehensive cooperation among Turkick states. The next summit will be held in Kazakhstan in 2015 - the fifth year the Council is to convene.

Reviving Chinese-Arab trade routes

While the Turkic states met in southern Turkey, Chinese and Arab leaders convened for the Sixth Ministerial Conference on China-Arab States Cooperation Forum on Thursday. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s key note speech at the opening ceremony of the Forum proposed carrying forward the Silk Road Spirit and deepening China-Arab States cooperation.

"For centuries, the silk road spirit - peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual understanding and mutual benefits - have been passed from generation to generation," said Xi, reported the Chinese CCTV.  

Xi proposed building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Referring to these plans CCT reported Xi saying, "It will make economies more closely integrated, promote infrastructure construction and institutional and systematic innovation, create new growth areas for economy and employment, and strengthen the economies’ internal driving force and resilience against risks."

Xi also mentioned that China will be training another 6,000 personnel for Arab states and share with them China’s experience in development and poverty reduction.

The Silk Road - the historic system of caravan trails through Turkey, Iran, India and China - is believed to have been established during the conquests of Alexander the Great, and became a major trading route for Chinese silk, enabling peoples and their cultures to make contact over the centuries.