TURKEY-BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION (BSEC) RELATIONS

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TURKEY-BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION (BSEC) RELATIONS

Introduction

The end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s was a period of major changes that dramatically upset strategic balances, brought an end to an era of bipolarity and as a result, generated a dramatic shift in international relations. The disintegration of the Soviet Bloc with the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the subsequent outbreak of the Gulf War followed by the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, substantially increased the need for peace and stability. These developments created epoch-making changes that compelled States at international cooperation to reconsider their political and economic priorities in their relations to other nations. It was especially crucial for those States sharing borders or in close proximity with the States of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, to take action in encouraging friendly and good-neighborly relations. Turkey being surrounded by many of the former Soviet Union republics located in and around the Black Sea region, and having the longest shoreline of all the littoral States, has long sought to assume leadership in the region.[1] Once the Cold War ended, Turkey took the lead to launch a regionally owned initiative by “contributing to the restoration of regional peace and stability through the development of stronger economic ties and vested interests among countries around the Black Sea”.[2] Proposed and co-founded by Turkey, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) zone was formed in June 1992, with the consent of 10 other countries.[3]  It was one of the first formal initiatives that aimed to build economic cooperation among countries that were once rivals during the Cold-War era.[4] Greece and Turkey, the NATO-affiliated members of the BSEC became partners with their formerly communist neighbors of the former Warsaw Pact: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation and Ukraine. Through greater economic ties, Turkey’s vision of the initiative was to maximize the economic potential of the Black Sea region by helping transform the centrally planned economies of the Soviet era into open-free market economies, and integrate them into the world economy.

The determination and commitment of Turkey to give more credence to BSEC came with the adoption of the BSEC Charter in 1998. With the entering into force of the Charter, the BSEC acquired international legal identity. This was a major step for the BSEC as it transformed from an initiative into a fully-fledged regional cooperation organization, becoming the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.[5] In twenty years, BSEC has become the most inclusive and comprehensive organization in the wider Black Sea region, contributing to the transition of its Member States with Turkey maintaining a leading role. In this respect, Turkey has managed to bring all the member countries in a spirit of confidence and constructive cooperation with a new project-oriented vision. Currently, BSEC is evolving from an economic forum to a project-oriented institution which aims to build projects among BSEC Member States on a wide range of areas such as transport, environmental protection, trade and economic development, energy, combating organized crime as well as science and technology.[6] The creation of economic cooperation and bridging together 340 million people in an area of approximately 20 million square kilometers has resulted in a positive initiative. Today, BSEC represents a valuable platform to Turkey for advancing its national interest with regards to the EU, for fostering economic growth and cooperation with its neighbors and for enhancing its importance as a regional power in the Black Sea region.

Origins, Motivations and Objectives of BSEC

The idea of regional cooperation in the Black Sea region was conceived before the dismantling of the Soviet Union on Turkey’s initiative. It was originally envisaged by the Turkish ambassador to the United States, Sukru Elekdag, who announced this project for the first time during a panel discussion organized in Istanbul in January 1990.[7] The idea captured interest in Turkey and was soon adopted that same year by the then President of the Turkish Republic, Turgut Ozal. The idea was initially proposed by Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania and the Soviet Union. As a result of their positive response, initial preparatory meetings took place in Ankara in December 1990 where an agenda for cooperation was prepared by the delegations from Bulgaria, Romania and the Soviet Union.[8] The agenda for cooperation consisted of forming a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) zone with Turkey. A year later in 1991, discussions in work groups followed in Sofia in March, Bucharest in April and in Moscow in July.[9]  Finally, after the consensus reached in the concluding discussion in Moscow, the Foreign Ministers of initial members got together in February 1992 in Istanbul and agreed to sign the declaration of the agreement establishing BSEC. With the approval of the application for membership of Greece and Albania, the Heads of State and governments of eleven met in Istanbul in June 1992 to sign the draft framework presenting the basic principles and objectives of BSEC.[10] These constituted the Summit Declaration outlining the scope of cooperation with a focus on trade and economic matters including areas such as environment and infrastructure as potential areas of cooperation, and the Bosphorus Statement which defines BSEC’s broader political framework.[11]

This was an important moment for the littoral States and beyond the Black Sea region in a time when major social, political and economic changes were taking place. However, despite the lucrative idea of regional cooperation that would turn back the Black Sea region into an area of stability, prosperity and peace, the idea was confronted with some backlash as a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which halted negotiations. According to a Soviet newspaper, Pravda[12], it was unlikely that the idea of a new economic regional cooperation would succeed after the break-up of the Soviet Union. This soon proved futile as the BSEC Summit Declaration was successfully signed just a year after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Pravda subsequently credited Turkish diplomats with the survival of the idea stressing that their persistence and active role resulted in the proposal’s eventual acceptance by the Foreign Ministers of the ten Heads of State and Turkey in 1992.[13] Despite the differences in terms of the level of economic development, market size and population, members took the advantages of common denominators such as geographic proximity and shared cultural and historical heritage. The convergence of ideologies between founding Members States coupled with Turkey’s tenacity and active leadership role, the idea of Black Sea regional cooperation bore fruit. What was also important was that its members shared the common vision of regional cooperation as “a part of the integration process in Europe, based on human rights and fundamental freedoms, prosperity through economic liberty, social justice, and equal security and stability, which is open for interaction with other countries, regional initiatives and international organizations and financial institutions”.[14] Therefore, regional cooperation in immediate post-Cold War era was possible since the founding members shared a common vision along the lines of economic and political liberalism that set the grounds for the establishment of BSEC. The then President Turgut Ozal was quoted in a Soviet newspaper, Izvestia, referring to Black Sea regional cooperation as part of a process of “the creation of a new model of regional organization in which the traditional confrontation between the East and the West is being replaced by an increasing rapprochement between countries.”[15]

Turkey’s Primary Motives for Black Sea Regional Cooperation

In order to understand Turkey’s motivations for initiating regional cooperation in the Black Sea region, it is important to mention some of the underlying factors and circumstance that contributed to BSEC’s eventual establishment. Three major factors contributed to Turkey’s foreign policy formulation: Turkey’s desire of a leadership role in the Black Sea region; the economic factor and lastly the European integration factor.

Turkey’s strategic location is one of the stimulating factors that have contributed to Turkey’s foreign policy ambition of becoming a regional leader in the Black Sea area. Located on the intersection of the East and West and the North and South divisions of regional power and energy centers, it is no wonder that Turkey strived to situate itself at the centre of regional cooperation in the area. During the Cold-War and after it, all natural lines of communication from the Gulf to the Balkans and from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean have passed through the Anatolian peninsula.[16] Due to its strategic location, Turkey became a NATO Member State in the 1950s, and it is this location that gives Turkey an upper hand when it comes to regional cooperation in the Black Sea area. Once the Cold-War ended, Turkey took the lead to realize its policy objectives and embarked on the BSEC project, bringing together newly established States in transition from socialism to democracy, into a framework of economic cooperation. This undeniably contributed to Turkey’s current position as a leading power in the Black Sea region.

However, in order to gain regional leadership, Turkey needed to revive its economy and integrate it fully into the global market economy. Turkey had been the promoter of modernization since its Republic’s inception and has been a supporter of open-market economies; however, its economy had not yet reached full integration into the global economy at the time. As a result, regional cooperation was seen as a push for greater modernization and transformation “from an inward-looking to outward-looking economic policies.”[17] At the same time, through greater economic ties, Turkey’s vision of the initiative was to maximize the economic potential of the Black Sea region as a whole by helping transform the centrally planned economies of the Soviet era into open-free market economies, and integrate them into the world economy. Another important factor that enhanced Turkey’s leadership role was that its initiative for regional cooperation was an influential vehicle for increasing peace and security in the wider Black Sea region. BSEC can be accounted for being one of the few organizations in which Turkey and Armenia both participate. Moreover, BSEC has brought long-time rivals like Turkey and Greece into a regional cooperation framework for their mutual benefit – all of which contributes to friendly and good-neighborly relations and hence stabilizes Turkey’s regional power in the Black Sea area.

Lastly, the European integration factor can be seen from the very beginning of BSEC’s inception. Its connection to European integration is apparent in the Bosphorus Statement. Upon signing the Bosphorus Statement in 1992, the Heads of State of the Member Countries stressed that “in the building of the new architecture of Europe, their countries and peoples had an important and creative contribution to make.” Furthermore, BSEC was viewed as “an effort that would facilitate the processes and structures of European integration.”[18] From this perspective, the BSEC was designed to maintain the continuity of European integration in post Cold-War era. The connection to the EU was particularly important for Turkey[19] which strived to join the European Community since its application for membership in 1987. Having been given a negative response to its application bid for EC full membership, BSEC was seen as an alternative regional initiative to European integration. As Melanie H. Ram concludes, “BSEC was a part and parcel of Turkey’s overall Europeanization strategy to cope with the effects of globalization and regionalization in the post-Cold War period.”[20] In essence, BSEC was seen as an initiative that would help Turkey gain regional and economic power and in a way prepare it for full EU membership.

BSEC Objectives and Institutional Structure

In the preparation period the main purpose of BSEC was to enhance the ‘mutually advantageous economic cooperation’ arising from their geographic proximity and their complementary economic resources. Initial areas of cooperation included a wide range of fields of economic activity such as commercial, economic, scientific, and technical cooperation.[21] The ultimate goal was to ensure that the Black Sea region becomes an area of peace, stability, and prosperity. In order to serve this purpose, member countries had to prepare the ground for cooperation by promoting friendly and good-neighborly relations through mutual cooperation and dialogue.[22] In the political sphere, this meant the creation of a consultation mechanism.[23] Hence, BSEC served as a discussion forum or process without a legal status of regional organization.  The need to consolidate BSEC’s international legal personality soon came to the fore at the Yalta summit in June 1998 with the signing of the Charter of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Upon the ratification of the Charter by Member States, BSEC finally acquired its official regional economic organization status a year later in May 1999, transforming BSEC into a proper economic organization. The adoption of a legally binding Charter replaced the political Summit Declaration as its principal instrument, hence giving BSEC wider recognition in the international arena.[24]

Since it was launched in 1992, BSEC has evolved into a well-structured international organization with solid institutions that cover all levels of governance. However, the BSEC did not develop into a trade bloc or a Free Trade Agreement. With its institutions the BSEC developed mainly as a foreign policy tool to serve the priorities of Turkey and the newly independent States of the former Soviet Union. BSEC’s institutional structure consists of a Permanent International Secretariat (PERMIS) with headquarters in Istanbul, and four Related Bodies: the Parliamentary Assembly of BSEC (PABSEC), the BSEC Business Council (BSEC BC), the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) and the International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) ─ which deal with the parliamentary, business, financial and academic scopes of cooperation, respectively.[25] The principal decision making organ of BSEC is the assembly of foreign ministers, namely, the Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which meets up every six months. The Council has the power to decide on all matters pertaining to the functioning of the BSEC by adopting resolutions, decisions and recommendation, but may also charge subsidiary organs to make decisions on particular issues. Furthermore, each BSEC Member State holds sessional Chairmanship rotating every six months according to the English alphabetical order. The Chairmanship-in-Office is assumed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Member State. During the Chairmanship-in-Office the Member States in question sets its priorities under BSEC’s fields of cooperation.

In addition to its open membership policy, BSEC also allows non-member countries to hold Observer status. There are currently seventeen Observers including the Commission of the European Union. Moreover, BSEC promotes relationship with third parties through Sectoral Dialogue Partnership to cooperate on matters of mutual concern – currently seventeen Sectoral Dialogue Partners cooperate with the BSEC.[26] The transformation of BSEC into a fully-fledged international organization gave an additional impetus to the BSEC relations with other organizations. As a result, it acquired observer status at the United Nations together with other international organizations.[27]

In line with the principles and objectives stipulated in the BSEC Charter with the aim of utilizing more effectively their human, natural and other resources, Turkey has launched major projects and initiatives through BSEC’s institutions which are of interest for Member State. These will be discussed in the following section.

Policy Objectives of the Turkish Chairmanship of the BSEC

(July-December 2012)

As the instigator of BSEC, Turkey has been playing an important role in creating possibilities of cooperation and dialogue that did not exist before in the region. From the Turkish perspective, BSEC’s initial task has been fulfilled as a facilitator of the former Soviet countries’ transition from closed economies into open market economies. Today, Turkey’s priority areas lie in a wide range of fields such as transport, environmental protection, trade and economic development, energy, migration management, combating organized crime as well as science and technology. Through the BSEC Chairmanship, Turkey seeks to intensify cooperation within the BSEC by setting a variety of policy objectives through project-oriented initiatives and actions. In this section I will present Turkey’s latest priority areas of cooperation under the framework of the last Turkish Chairmanship of BSEC (July-December 2012).  Turkey’s priorities reflect the common goals of cooperation and priority areas identified in the 20th Anniversary Istanbul Summit Declaration adopted on 26 June, 2012.[28] On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of BSEC, the new Economic Agenda for the region was endorsed setting goals in 17 priority areas. Under this framework, Turkey sought to accomplish many of the goals set in the new Economic Agenda through its Chairmanship.[29]

During the six-month Chairmanship period, Turkey’s main theme has been “From regional cooperation to a zone of prosperity in the Black Sea Area.” Within the framework of this theme, Turkey mainly focused on the spheres of transport, intra-regional trade and investments, sustainable energy, combating organized crime, education and involvement of youth and civil society, science and technology, taxation, culture and tourism, and strengthening the BSEC and its cooperation with international partners.[30] In his speech, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu, stressed that the theme provided a comprehensive vision to create a possibility for achieving closer cooperation, greater stability and prosperity in the BSEC region.[31] The main factors in defining the Chairmanship’s main theme rested on the region’s strategic geographic location one which connects strategic transportation and trade routes as well as crucial energy corridors located at the heart of Eurasia, presenting vast opportunities for the people living there. Due to these opportunities, Turkey sought a comprehensive answer to how to advance BSEC’s prosperity in the future and at the same time ensure a more sustainable and socio-economic environment throughout the region.[32]

Within a six-month period, Turkey was credited to have successfully fulfilled its priorities. As the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat Secretary-General, Victor Tvircun had stated, “Since assuming the six-month term chairmanship of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in 2012, Turkey worked to rejuvenated interaction between the BSEC and the European Union and has further achieved many successful economic objectives.”[33] These achievements, and among others, are presented below.

 

Turkish Chairmanship Priorities:

As mentioned above, Turkey had set an array of priority areas of cooperation to fulfil during its Chairmanship with an aim to turn the region into a zone of prosperity. Its policy agenda did not solely reflect a desire for accelerated trade, but it also aimed to engage in projects concerning the environment, youth, civil society and combating organized crime. To fulfil this goal, Turkey has organized several events including Ministerial meetings where its priority areas have been presented and propagated.

Due to the region’s strategic importance, the sphere of transport forms an important part of Turkey’s policy objective within the BSEC framework. In the sphere of transport, Turkey’s main priority was to provide support for concluding the development of the two flagship projects of BSEC, namely, the Black Sea Ring Highway project and the project on the development of the Motorways of the Sea in the BSEC region.[34] The Black Sea Ring Highway project envisages a four lane ring highway system, approximately 7700 km long, targeting to connect the BSEC Member State as well as the European Road Network to that of Asia. On the other hand, the project on the development of the Motorways of the Sea aims to reinforce the maritime links between the ports of the BSEC Member States. Improved transport infrastructure is essential to promoting intra-trade in BSEC as well as investments and tourism within the region where 330 million people live in an area of approximately 20 million square meters – an opportunity to bring these people even closer to each other. In order to respond to this need and motivate the political will of BSEC Member States, Turkey has hosted a Meeting of Ministers of Transport of the BSEC Member States in Izmir, Turkey, in November, 2012. During the meeting both the current developments and the prospective cooperation opportunities were discussed concluding with the adoption of a Joint Declaration which propagates to ensure the progressive implementation of the two flagship projects.[35] Nevertheless, the two flagship transport infrastructure projects are still in their development stage which promises to bolster existing alliances and prosperity within the region.

In the field of promoting intra-regional trade and investments, Turkey strived to create a more favorable environment for trade and investment among the BSEC countries by taking additional steps in issues such as visa facilitation, elimination of non-tariff barriers, as well as enhancing the interaction among the business communities in the Member States. One of the important initiatives during the Chairmanship was the establishment of the BSEC Trade Center in Bursa, Turkey, and the re-activation of the BSEC Coordination Center for the Exchange of Statistical Data and Information established within the Turkish Statistical Institute.[36] The re-activation of the BSEC Coordination Center was an important step during Turkey’s Chairmanship since it provides a mechanism for the exchange of information, essential for promoting intra-regional trade and investment.

In the field of sustainable energy, the Turkish Chairmanship sought to increase the level of BSEC cooperation through common projects in the sphere of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Energy cooperation remains an important part of energy security within the Black Sea region. The need to address the issue of renewable energy and energy efficiency on how to use limited energy resources and respond to the threat of climate change with clean energy policies was a key priority of Turkey’s Chairmanship. In this regard, Turkey convened the meetings of the BSEC Green Energy Development Task and the BSEC Working Group on Energy in Istanbul in November, 2012. The meetings served an opportunity to share information on the national policies of the BSEC Member States in the field of energy and on the development of projects and initiatives of regional impact.[37] During the meetings of the BSEC Green Energy Development Task the participants agreed to proceed with the creation of a Network among the national administrative centers and organizations that promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures and policies in order to share the know-how and good practices among the BSEC Member States. In addition, the Task Force also decided to elaborate a draft BSEC Green Strategy Paper.[38]

In today’s changing economic, social and political environment, issues such as organized crime and terrorism have become major sources of concern for the BSEC region. Due to the transnational nature of issues such as terrorism, trafficking in human-beings, illegal migration, drugs and weapons, and with BSEC’s vast area of 20 million square meters connecting many countries, these issues needed to be addressed. As a result, Turkey’s Chairmanship sought to engage in Combating Organized Crime, Illegal Trafficking of Drugs and Weapons, Terrorism, Corruption and Money Laundering. In this regard, Turkey hosted a Meeting of Ministers of Interior in Istanbul, where common approaches and methods were discussed and established towards overcoming this common threat. [39] At the conclusion of the meeting, a Joint Declaration was adopted which envisages the strengthening of cooperation among national authorities of Member States involved in preventing and fighting transnational crimes including economic and financial crimes. [40] In this regard, the document also envisages the improvement of the existing mechanism of information exchange within the framework of the BSEC Network of Liaison Officers on Combating Crime.

The civil society has become an important factor in domestic affairs but also in the case of regional cooperation. The Turkish Chairmanship sought to facilitate cooperation among the civil society organizations in the BSEC Member States, including business organizations such as chambers of commerce and academicians in the BSEC activities, in order to find solutions to their common problems.[41] Hence, Education and Involvement of Youth and Civil Society was another important priority area under the Turkish Chairmanship. In regard to education, Turkey sought to promote cooperation among scholars, academicians and scientists of the Member States, as well as enhance cooperation between universities in the BSEC region. Within this framework, Turkey envisages to establish a “Black Sea Economic Cooperation Institute” for master and postgraduate studies for greater cooperation in the field and to provide better environment for interdisciplinary studies.[42] Furthermore, a second training program for Junior Diplomats from the BSEC Member States was organized by Turkey in spirit of greater youth involvement within the region.[43]

In the sphere of scientific research and technology Turkey sought to enhance cooperation in the field by disseminating success stories and best practices as well as focusing on capacity improvement, research and innovation. In this regard, the Meeting of The BSEC Working Group on Cooperation in Science and Technology was held in Istanbul where a new Plan of Action of the Working Group covering the period until mid-2014 was presented by Turkey as the Country Coordinator of the Working Group.[44] The Action Plan envisages the strengthening of human resources, capacity building, research infrastructure, innovation, synergies and support for multilateral projects, including specific actions to be undertaken during the 2013-2015 period.

Another important objective of Turkish Chairmanship was to enhance cooperation in the area of taxation. In order to better understand tax rules and practices of BSEC Member States, Turkey hosted the fist Tax Forum in Antalya, Turkey, gathering more than 60 decision makers in tax policy and administration from BSEC region including finance ministers, tax experts, academia and representatives of the international organizations.[45] The Tax Forum provided a platform to discuss common challenges and share experiences in order to find solutions to common problems in the area of taxation.

Tourism and culture is another priority area for cooperation within the framework of Turkish Chairmanship. From the Turkish perspective, BSEC region can only flourish if development of towns and cities is achieved in parallel with the projects that contribute to economic growth. Furthermore, supporting cultural exchange also forms an important part for enhancing mutual understanding and cultural diversity in the region.[46] In order to contribute to this vision, Turkey has organized special events such as Ministerial meetings, the Silk Road Workshop and the Black Sea Summit.

In the sphere of strengthening the Organization Turkish Chairmanship sought to contribute to BSEC’s efforts to further strengthen and consolidate BSEC through organizational reform.[47] In his speech, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Naci Koru, presented Turkey’s policy objective in the field stating that, “Turkey is committed to work towards ensuring the efficiency, effectiveness and visibility of BSEC, including through possible reforms on some of the legal framework of the Organization.”[48] In order to fulfill this objective, Turkey has worked closely with the BSEC institutional bodies. Furthermore, Turkish Chairmanship was committed to further strengthening cooperation with the international partners such as the United Nations, European Union, OECD, as well as with BSEC observers and sectoral dialogue partners, with a view to increasing the potential of the Black Sea region.[49]

Cooperation with the UN grew stronger under Turkish Chairmanship as it marked the adoption of the latest resolution on Cooperation between the UN and the BSEC after Turkey introduced a Draft Resolution to the UN General Assembly.[50] Furthermore, Turkey continued to engage in the ongoing process of cooperation between the United Nations’ Alliance of Civilizations and the BSEC aimed at promoting understanding and dialogue and fostering cross-cultural exchange and cooperation.[51] Turkish Chairmanship was also marked by a ‘revitalization of BSEC-EU interaction’. A joint meeting of BSEC and EU was held in December, 2012, in Brussels, comprising of the BSEC Troika (consisting of the former, present and future chairing countries) and the Working Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia (COEST) under the EU Council of Ministers. This was an important event as it gathered European Commission experts to participate in one of the BSEC meetings where the future of BSEC-EU cooperation was discussed.[52]  One of the initiatives of BSEC-EU cooperation is the Black Sea Synergy put forward by the European Commission under the European Neighborhood Policy. Turkey has been an ardent supporter of the Black Sea Synergy which aims to develop cooperation within the Black Sea region and also between the region as a whole and the European Union.[53] Areas of cooperation focus on issues which reflect common priorities and where EU presence and support is already considerable such as democracy, respect for human rights and good governance, among other.[54]

One other major objective of the Turkish Chairmanship was to prepare an action plan to ensure the effective implementation of the new BSEC Economic Agenda. This objective has been fulfilled during the Meeting of the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers held in Istanbul with the adoption of a document titled “The Way Forward for an Action Plan on the Implementation of the Economic Agenda Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership.”[55]

Conclusion

In twenty years of existence, BSEC has become the most comprehensive and institutionalized structure within the Black Sea region.  It is the only international organization which includes all six countries on the Black Sea as well as five neighboring countries. Though a post Cold-War structure, the idea of regional cooperation has its roots before the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Its survival depended on the strong persistence and tenacity of Turkey’s diplomats who managed to bring the idea of regional cooperation into being and kept it thriving since its inception in 1992. Through its policy objectives and motivations, Turkey has managed to gain support from member countries and succeed in creating an extensive cooperation scheme in one of the most conflict-prone regions in the post-Cold War world where such initiatives did not exist before.  Today, BSEC does not only serve as a forum for cooperation and a platform for political dialogue for its 12 Member States, it is evolving into a project-based institution in a wide range of areas that have resulted due to continuous political, economic and social dynamics. As a result, the Black Sea region has become ever closer, one that shares common projects and practices. This has given Turkey an opportunity to pursue policy areas that are of common interest, which in turn, serve to maintain Turkey’s leadership position in the region. During its 2012 Chairmanship, Turkey sought to fulfill its policy goals in an array of fields which reflect Turkey’s strong commitment and relationship with the BSEC. Issues of non-economic nature such as education and youth involvement and strengthening relations with thirds parties such as the UN has proven that BSEC is directing towards an all encompassing international organization, one which embraces a ‘comprehensive vision’ to create an opportunity for reaching closer cooperation, greater stability and prosperity in the BSEC region’. 

Šejla JUSUFOVIC

 

REFERENCES

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– Baran, Z., “Turkey and the Wider Black Sea Region”, in Hamilton, Daniel and Mangott, Gerhard (eds.), The Wider Black Sea Region in the 21st Century: Strategic, Economic and Energy Perspectives, Washington, D.C., Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2008.

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[1] Z. Baran, “Turkey and the Wider Black Sea Region”, in Hamilton, Daniel and Mangott, Gerhard (eds.), The Wider Black Sea Region in the 21st Century: Strategic, Economic and Energy Perspectives, Washington, D.C., Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2008, p. 1.

[2] S. Sayan, “The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Project: A Substitute for or A Complement to Globalization Efforts in the Middle East and the Balkans? Origins, Motivations and Objectives of the BSEC”, http://www.bilkent.edu.tr/~sayan/DiscussionPapers/ERF_WP9806.pdf , 1998, (accessed 15 April 2013), p. 5.

[3] BSEC founding members consisted of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine, with a later addition of Serbia in April 2004 bringing BSEC’s total membership to twelve.

[4] Sayan, p. 1.

[5] BSEC Member States adopted a BSEC Charter in Yalta in 1998 before it acquired international legal identity.

[6] Other fields of cooperation include healthcare and pharmaceutics, institutional renewal and good governance, education, culture, tourism and customs matters.

[7] Cited in M. Aydin, O. Fazlioglu, “The Turkish Policy towards the Wider Black Sea Region and its Chairmanship of the BSEC (May – October 2007)”, in Unfolding the Black Sea Economic Cooperation: Views from the Region, Athens, International Center for Black Sea Studies, 2007, p. 9.

[8] T. Aybak, “Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and Turkey: Extending European Integration to the East?”, in Aybak, T. (ed), Politics of the Black Sea: Dynamics of Cooperation and Conflict, New York, I.B. Tauris & CO. Ltd Publishers,  2001, pp. 31-32.

[9] During this time Ukraine joined the initiative. See Aybak, p. 31.

[10] Cited in Sayan, p. 6. See also Aybak.

[11] For more details see Summit Declaration of BSEC (1992) Available at http://www.pabsec.org/pabsec/aksisnet/file/26bsecistanbuldeclaration(25june1992)_IG_r_AKFBI.pdf.

and The Bosphorus Statement Available at http://www.bsec-organization.org/documents/declaration/summit/Reports/Bosphorus%201992.pdf.

[12] Specifically, Pravda was the newspaper of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

[13] Aybak, pp. 31-32.

[14] Cited in Baran, p. 10.

[15] Cited in Aybak, p. 32.

[16] Aybak, p. 43.

[17] Ibid., p. 32.

[18] M. H. Ram, “Black Sea Cooperation towards European Integration”, Black Sea Regional Policy Symposium, Leesburg, IREX, 2001, p. 15.

[19] EU connection was also important for Bulgaria, Romania which became full EU members in 2007. Ukraine has also shown interest in EU membership.

[20] Ram, p. 15.

[21] One main area of economic cooperation was transport since the signatories’ priority was to ease the movement of business people. See Warner.

[22] See Summit Declaration (1992) and Bosphorus Statement (1992).

[23] W. Gumpel, “The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone”, Intereconomics, vol. 28, no. 4, 1993, p. 179.

[24] See BSEC Charter at http://www.bsec-organization.org/documents/LegalDocuments/statutory/charter/Download/CHARTER%20web%20080630.pdf.

[25] Since 1994 the Permanent Secretariat (PERMIS) coordinates twelve working groups with specific agendas; The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) was established in Thessaloniki in June 1999 as the financial institution of the organization which is responsible for financing common regional projects and providing banking services to the countries involved; the Parliamentary Assembly (PABSEC) was ratified by the Member States in May 1999 providing constant support to the BSEC on a consultative basis; the BSEC Business Council (BSEC BC) was established in 1992 with an aim of promoting business cooperation ; the International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) was established in 1998 as a non-profit organization for providing research and training and serves as a think-tank of BSEC. For further information see  website of BSEC at www.bsec-organization.org.

[26] See full list of Sectoral Dialogue Partners at http://www.bsec-organization.org/partners/Pages/Sectoral.aspx.

Full list of Observer countries Available at http://www.bsec-organization.org/partners/Pages/Observers.aspx.

[27] See full list of international organization partners at http://www.bsec-organization.org/partners/Pages/intorganization.aspx.

[28] See Istanbul Summit Declaration (2012) available at http://www.bsec-organization.org/documents/declaration/summit/Reports/ISTANBUL%20SUMMIT%20DECLARATION%2026June.pdf.

[29] See The BSEC Economic Agenda – Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership (2012), available at http://www.mfa.gov.tr/the-bsec-economic-agenda—towards-an-enhanced-bsec-partnership_-26-june-2012_-istanbul.en.mfa.

[30] “Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Announced the Priorities of the Chairmanship”, Black Sea News, No: 26, December, 2012, http://icbss.org/media/947_original.pdf, (accessed 22 April 2013), pp. 1-2.

[31] “H.E. Prof. Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu, Chairman-In-Office of BSEC, Minster of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, Answers the Questions of the Black Sea News”, Black Sea News, No: 26, December, 2012, http://icbss.org/media/947_original.pdf, (accessed 22 April 2013), pp. 1-2.

[32] Black Sea News, p. 2.

[33] G. N. Donat, “Tvircun: BSEC-EU interaction revitalized during Turkey chairmanship”, Today’s Zaman, 1 January 2013, http://www.todayszaman.com/news-302843-tvircun-bsec-eu-interaction-revitalized-during-turkey-chairmanship.html , (accessed 15 April 2013).

[34] “Priorities Of The Turkish Chairmanship-In-Office For The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (1 July – 31 December 2012)”, http://bsec.mfa.gov.tr/priorities.en.mfa, (accessed on 15 April 2013).

[35] “Izmir Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the Sphere of Transport in the BSEC Region” available at http://www.iru.org/cms-filesystem-action/Events_2012_izmir/izmirMinisterialDeclaration.pdf.

[36] “Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Announced the Priorities of the Chairmanship”, Black Sea News, No: 26, December, 2012, http://icbss.org/media/947_original.pdf, (accessed 22 April 2013), p. 2.

[37] “Green Energy High on the BSEC Agenda“, Black Sea News, p. 6.

[38] Ibid.

[39] “BSEC Ministers of Interior Adopt a Joint Declaration in Istanbul”, Black Sea News, p. 3.

[40] Ibid.

[41] “Priorities Of The Turkish Chairmanship-In-Office For The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (1 July – 31 December 2012)”, http://bsec.mfa.gov.tr/priorities.en.mfa, (accessed on 15 April 2013).

[42] Ibid.

[43] The first training was held in 2010 and was also organized by the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. See Black Sea News, p. 8.

[44] “Working Group on Cooperation in Science and Technology Convened in Istanbul”, Black Sea News, p. 6.

[45] “First BSEC Tax Forum Organized by Turkey“, Black Sea News, p. 3.

[46] “Priorities Of The Turkish Chairmanship-In-Office For The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (1 July – 31 December 2012)”,  http://bsec.mfa.gov.tr/priorities.en.mfa, (accessed 15 April 2013).

[47] Ibid.

[48] “Speech delivered by H.E. Ambassador Naci Koru, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, on the occasion of the Presentation of Priorities of Chairmanship-in-Office of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC)”, Retrieved from http://bsec.mfa.gov.tr/presentation-of-the-priorities-of-the-turkish-chairmanship-in-office-of-the-organization-of-the-black-sea-economic-cooperation.en.mfa, (accessed on 15 April 2013).

[49] Ibid.

[50] “UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution on UN-BSEC Cooperation“, Black Sea News, p. 8.

[51] Ibid.

[52] “BSEC-EU Relations Discussed in Brussels“, Black Sea News, p. 7.

[53] Aydin and Fazlioglu, p. 138.

[54] See Communication From The Commission To The Council And The European Parliament: Black Sea Synergy – A New Regional Cooperation Initiative, Available at http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/pdf/com07_160_en.pdf.

[55] “Message from Ambassador Dr. Victor Tvircun”, Black Sea News, p. 3.

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