The UNESCO initiated Silk Roads Project can help bring progress to different countries and peoples, the project’s President Jose Maria Chiquillo has said.

The UNESCO project from 1988 aims “to unite the societies of the East and the West with mutual knowledge and respect, and from there to develop such exchanges as to bring diversity, a culture of peace and to promote social and economic growth, just as the mythical Silk Road did 2,000 years ago,” Chiquillo said in a recent interview in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia.

Chiquillo was in October 2018 reelected for a second term as the project’s president for the period 2018-2020. A total of 38 countries have participated in the project.

He said the project gives “value to the historic legacy, the cultural exchanges and the ideas which united the East and the West thanks to this route.”

“We are talking about tolerance between different religions and cultures thanks to dialogue, diversity, and development”

Chiquillo said he wants to see a symbiosis of cultures to help bring the same benefits as the ancient Silk Road and believes the project will perfectly work alongside the Belt and Road Initiative China proposed in 2013.

“The Silk Road and the Belt and Road run parallel to each other, although the Belt and Road focus more on infrastructure. But any human activity needs to have a cultural guarantee and we are trying to revitalise that cultural area, as China’s contribution to civilisation has always been very important,” he said.

“2,000-year history of the Silk Road”

The UNESCO project, he said, is also meant to highlight the through academic exchanges and other concrete actions, such as cultural or food festivals in his planning.

Taking Valencia for instance, the Spanish Port in the western Mediterranean, he said, was among Europe’s biggest ports on the ancient Silk Road for Chinese goods.

Valencia boasts a silk museum and a college for high silk art, as well as a “Silk Market” to determine the silk pricing in the western Mediterranean region.

“We were able to see Valencia chosen as the City of Silk for the period between 2016 and 2020 in the UNESCO Project and we are going to ask for it to also be the venue for the 2021 Silk Road Mayors Forum,” said.

“The historical legacy unites us,” he added.