Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.
A New Organization is Born
Ankara - Turkish Daily News, 27 March 2001
Six Black sea countries, that is Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia, will sign the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (Blackseafor) agreement next Monday, April 2, in Istanbul.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, Georgia's foreign minister, Russian, Ukranian and Romanian deputy foreign ministers and Bulgaria's chief of staff are expected to attend the ceremony.
The project was proposed by Turkey by former Navy Forces Commander Salim Dervisoglu in 1998. The countries signed the letter of intent in Ankara on June 28, 2000.
The goals for the establishment of Blackseafor are search and rescue operations for humanitarian needs, cleaning sea mines, joint action for protecting the Black Sea environment and organizing good will visits amongst Black Sea countries.
Decisions will be taken by consensus of the members, and the presidency will be rotated following the countries' names in alphabetical order. However, Turkey is to be the first president country. At least one maneuver in the Black Sea will be carried out every year.
"The task group does not aim to constitute an alliance against other countries or international organizations. It only targets increasing cooperation between Black Sea countries. But the task group can cooperate with international organizations like the U.N. and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The group will be created only by the participation of the countries' navy forces. There will be no definite headquarters for the task group, contrary to the Turkish media stating that Istanbul will have permanent Blackseafor headquarters. The headquarters will be in the president country," said an official close to the government.
After signing for the task group in Istanbul next month, the agreement should be approved by the relevant countries' parliaments.
"After signing the agreement, a planning meeting will be held in Georgia on April 11. Firstly it must be known what the capacities of the countries are and then we are planning to carry out our first maneuver this summer," the same official concluded.
Only in the last decade of the twentieth century however, when the atmosphere of the cold war, suspicion and mistrust has receded, have the countries of the Black Sea area been able to undertake bold steps in that direction. They could come together and decide how, in the age of the globalization of economies, valuable assets in their possession, such as geographical proximity, common history, cultural bonds and the interdependence of their national economies could be efficiently employed for mutual benefit and prosperity.
The real breakthrough occurred two years ago, when in June 1992 the Heads of State and Government of eleven countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine met upon the invitation of the Government of Turkey in Istanbul. This Summit was successfully crowned with the signing of the historic document:
"Summit Declaration on Black Sea Economic Cooperation."
The day of 25 June 1992 launched the process known to the world today is the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the BSEC has become a symbol for a new regional cooperation model.
The Black Sea Economic Cooperation is based on the principles laid down in the Helsinki Final Act, the follow-up Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) documents and, particularly, in the Paris Charter for a New Europe and on shared values such as democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, prosperity through economic liberty and social justice and equal security for all the Participating States. The goals and principles embodied in the Summit Declaration of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation are in full conformity with the provisions of the United Nations Charter. As a unique and promising model aimed at fostering interaction and harmony among the Participating States, the BSEC will undoubtedly contribute to the creation of a future Europe-wide economic zone and promote mutual understanding, peace and security in the region. One of the basic objectives of the BSEC, proclaimed in the "Summit Declaration", is to ensure that the Black Sea becomes a sea of peace, stability and prosperity, encouraging friendly and good-neighborly relations.
Not less important is the decision of the Heads of State and Government in June 1992 that their economic cooperation be developed in a manner not contravening their obligations and not preventing the promotion of relations of the Participating States with third parties, including international organizations as well as the European Union and cooperation within regional initiatives.