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The Work Programme of Turkey During Its Chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC)
(1 May – 1 November 2001)


The Concept of Cooperation Among Black Sea Countries

After the end of the Cold War period, a question has been posed on whether it would be possible to convert the area of the Black Sea to one of cooperation and shared prosperity. Members of the regional countries started to discuss how to create an area where persons, capital and goods would move freely, where initiatives for cooperation would come from down to upwards rather than vice versa, thus allowing roles for states as arranging the legal framework for such a cooperation area.

For this objective, on June 25, 1992, the Istanbul Declaration was signed by the Heads of States or Governments of Albania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey. This was the original step to integrate the Black Sea area to the world economy, to enhance cooperation among its members and to convert this sea area into one of peace, stability and prosperity.

Parallel to this Declaration another very important document named the Bosphorus Statement was made, which foresaw that parties would observe the principles of the Helsinki Final Communiqué and principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in their relations.

These declarations earmarked two major strategic developments at that historical period.

1) After the end of the Cold War the Bosphorus Statement constituted the first commitment of the regional countries to adhere to OSCE principles.

2) Creation of a cooperation area of 20 million square meters situated on a pivotal location between Europe, Asia, Central Asia and Middle East with a potential market of 400 million people, with 2nd highest oil and natural gas reserves of the world, also covering other rich natural resources and qualified human resources. This important initiative has drawn the attention of many other countries, particularly in Europe and countries like Austria, France, Germany, Italy as well as Egypt, Israel, Poland, Slovakia and Tunisia started to follow the activities of this initiative under observer status. Today more than 9 countries have applied for observer status to the organization whilst some are in the row to become full members.

The initiative developed its structural framework on March 15,1995 with the decision of its members to establish a Secretariat in Istanbul. Furthermore, the Charter was concluded at the Summit Meeting in Yalta, on June 5, 1998 and ratified by the respective parliaments by May 1,1999.

Thus,

a) BSEC was transformed into a regional economic organization with an international legal identity and

b) member states by their ratification of the Charter, confirmed their permanent commitments to the future of the organization.

Following the adoption of the Charter, with the conclusion of the Headquarters Agreement, the Protocol Relating to the Immunities and Privileges, the Staff Rules and Regulations, the organizational process has been completed.

The Black Sea Cooperation is structured to cooperate on 5 different platforms:

a) at the governmental

b) at the parliamentary

c) private enterprise

d) banking and finance

e) academic-scientific

I) Cooperation at the Intergovernmental Level

The Council of Ministers consisting of the Foreign Ministers of 11 countries, and meeting twice a year in April and October is the highest decision-making body. The meetings of the Council of Ministers are being held in Member States according to the principle of rotation. The Minister of Foreign Affairs who hosts the Council Meeting assumes the Chairmanship of the session until the following Council Meeting.

In 1995 the mechanism of "Troika" was introduced as a consulting body composed of the present, former and future chairpersons, for the purpose of ensuring continuity in policies.

The Committee of Senior Officials meets immediately before Council of Ministers Sessions and where necessary, prepares the groundwork for decisions based on the work presented by subsidiary bodies.

The Permanent International Secretariat (PERMIS) of BSEC is the basic organ maintaining coordination among member states under the general policy guidance of the Chairperson-in-Office and is located at Müşir Fuad Paşa Yalısı, Istinye, Istanbul. The Secretariat also coordinates the activities of the Working Groups and provides all the necessary correspondence. Activities of the Organization are pursued under different Working Groups named as follows:

- Working Group on Economic and Trade Development

- Working Group on Tourism Cooperation

- Working Group on Communication

- Working Group on Environmental Protection

- Working Group on Agriculture and Agricultural Industry

- Working Group on Energy

- Working Group on Electronic Communication Network

- Working Group on Scientific and Technological Cooperation

- Working Group on Statistical Information and Data Exchange

- Working Group on Health Care and Pharmaceutics

- Working Group on Transport

- Working Group on Emergency Assistance

- Working Group on Combating Crime

II. Cooperation at the Interparliamentary Level

The BSEC Parliamentary Assembly (PABSEC), consisting of parliamentarians of member countries, is established in Harekat Kö?kü, Dolmabahçe, Istanbul and serves as a consultative organ for decision making. It has a separate international Secretariat and works in 3 committees in the following fields;

a) economic, commercial, technical and environmental relations.

b) legal and political relations.

c) educational, cultural and social relations.

III. Cooperation at the Private Enterprise Level

The BSEC Business Council consisting of private enterprise representatives of member countries also has a permanent Secretariat stationed at Mü?ir Fuad Pa?a Yalysy Istanbul.

The Council, headed by a Secretary General is run by a Board of Directors, composed of representatives from the business circles of member states. The Business Council tries to act as a center to create and support the infrastructure for private sector in the region and incubate business opportunities within the BSEC process.

IV. Cooperation at the Banking and Financial Level

The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) established in Thessaloniki, Greece, on June 21, 1999, forms the financial pillar of BSEC. The Bank's initial capital is provided on the basis of specified shared-quotas purchased by participating states amounting to 300 million dollars. By the purchase of the remaining shares, this initial capital will be raised to 1.5 billion dollars. Turkey, Greece and Russian Federation are the main share holders with 16.5% shares respectively. The Bank has succeeded in providing a financial resource of 102 million dollars to different regional projects, particularly those relating to interregional trade.

V. Cooperation at Academic Level

BSEC countries are faced with rapid and complex pace of technological innovation in the world. They are working closely in identifying new forms and directions of regional scientific and technological cooperation and in applying the achievements of science and technology in priority fields of economic interests. To achieve these objectives, the BSEC Working Group on Cooperation in Science and Technology makes efforts to create the policy framework of cooperation in this area.
Furthermore

a) The BSEC Standing Academic Committee was established in 1998 and adopted guidelines for further promoting academic cooperation in the BSEC region and identified joint scientific projects.

b) The International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) was established in September 1998, in Athens, to carry out policy oriented and practical researches for the realization of BSEC goals, specially in the fields of economics, industry and technology.

c) The Black Sea Universities Network was initiated by the Black Sea Foundation of Romania in 1997, now embraces some 53 universities in the region. Its goals are to identify and enhance intellectual resources badly needed by sustainable development, to plan common research and training projects and represent in the best way the intellectual produce of the region.

In addition to these, BSEC has the Statistical Data and Economic Information Coordination Center working with the Turkish State Statistical Institute.

What has BSEC achieved since 10 years?

During the past 10 years, BSEC member states have faced serious economic challenges individually. In fact, most of them have gone through the process of transition to democracy and liberal economy, have dealt with serious issues such as internal conflicts relating to ethnic cultural differences, immigration problems, lack of sufficient funds. Some members have given priority to EU membership or to participating in other regional cooperation frameworks such as the Stability Pact, SECI, Royaumont Process etc.

In spite of these challenges BSEC has covered considerable ground which may be summarized as follows:

-Member countries with ongoing political conflicts among them have succeeded to seek common economic goals within a common spirit of cooperation.

-BSEC has converted this area of reciprocal non-confidence into an area of confidence which will serve as a basis of future cooperation. BSEC Members' efforts for economic integration have also served transparency and democracy in the respective countries.

-A permanent dialogue has been established between members through BSEC.

-Previously untouchable questions such as organized crime, illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs are being handled through BSEC

-The efforts of economic cooperation through BSEC have brought member states closer to European contemporary standards.

-BSEC has acted as a bridge between Europe and the Caucasus which is faced with risks comparable to the Balkans.

-BSEC has aroused the world's, the EU's and US interests in the region, with its combined potential in different areas .

TURKEY, AS THE HOST AND INITIATOR OF BSEC, WILL UNDERTAKE THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS IN MAY 2001.

A New Programme for 6 Months and Further

Turkey believes that BSEC now needs to be transformed into a more dynamic regional economic organization, with a new road map that will respond to the rapid developments and contemporary economic problems of the new century. In this respect the BSEC Agenda 2000 will serve as a collective focused strategy, containing jointly elaborated, achievable priorities.

Turkey supports the ideas put forth in the BSEC Agenda 2000 and plans to pursue them under two general headings.

A. Measures taken to increase the efficiency of the organization.

After the adoption of the BSEC Agenda 2000, Turkey will initiate and pursue the new role of the BSEC PERMIS, as regards its implementation. To develop and improve the BSEC performance and to provide an efficient implementation of the new agenda, Turkey will ensure the following steps to be taken:

1) The BSEC will be transformed into a project-oriented endeavor and for this the PERMIS should enhance its capacity in project elaboration, promotion and implementation. In this regard member states, when designating their representatives to the Secretariat, should take into consideration the required expertise for the vacant posts. Due to the fact that at present the PERMIS does not have sufficient number of experts, member states should provide the required experts on project basis, with expenses covered by the sender state.

2) PERMIS should take the initiative to follow up resolutions and decisions adopted by the Council and develop and promote projects under the general framework of the Agenda 2000.

3) PERMIS should follow the activities of the related bodies, the PABSEC, the BSTDB and the Business Council as well as other affiliated centers to ensure a concerted BSEC policy as well as to make full use of existing technical and financial resources and capacities of these institutions. New projects, new technologies and ideas drawn up in these institutions, should be followed by the PERMIS for the benefit of the organization.

As an initial step to pursue this objective, Turkey will hold a coordination meeting with BSEC related bodies and affiliated centers in Istanbul during its chairmanship one day before the Troika meeting (date to be determined).

4) Common principles for the establishment and operation of affiliated centers will be identified.

5) After the entry into force of the BSEC Headquarters Agreement in August 2000, member states are encouraged to establish permanent delegations accredited to BSEC, so as to enable a permanent follow up of the BSEC activities. Eventually, these permanent representatives will form a Council of Permanent Representatives which will meet periodically in Istanbul to discuss and follow up implementation of projects.

6) The already established Troika system will be more efficiently utilized as a consultation mechanism. To discuss these objectives a meeting of the Organizational Committee and one or two meetings of Senior Officials will be held.

B. Specific projects and proposals for more consolidated, effective and usable partnership in the region.

1. Cooperation in the Area of Energy and Cooperation with IAEA and IEA

Turkey supports the proposals of Agenda 2000 in the area of energy as regards the following:

- coordination of activities in the energy sector,

- coordination of optimization of utilization of energy, in increase of efficiency,

- interconnection of electric power systems and

- development of a regional energy market.

To realize these objectives the Turkish Government will pursue several activities, cited below:

a. Convening the Working Group on Energy in Turkey (at a date to be fixed).

b.Project for interconnection of electric power systems of BSEC Member countries. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed among BSEC members in the field of electric power industry on 15 April 1998. This project lays the base for the concept of the "BSEC Electrical Ring". As an initial step, efforts will be made for the establishment of a Trans-Caucasus power bridge through Russia, Georgia and Turkey. USAID's and USTDA's (US Trade and Development Agency) assistance and involvement in realizing this concept is being sought by the Turkish authorities. These institutions will be invited to the forthcoming Working Group on Energy for the consideration of projects in this area.

c. The Fourth Meeting of "A Tale of Three Seas Integrated with the World of Energy" will be held in June 19-22 2001, in Istanbul, by DEIK, CERA and BSEC Business Council. This meeting will focus on implications of upstream actively in the Caspian, on flows through the Bosphorus and competitive dynamics on gas supply in the region.

d. The peaceful use of nuclear energy is a promising area for regional cooperation. Possibilities of IAEA support is being sought for the materialization of such cooperation, on the following specific areas:

-Preparing a regional agreement on early notification of nuclear accidents and exchange of information relating to nuclear reactors. Although a number of member states already have bilateral agreements, a regional agreement would cover all members and would be an important safeguard in ensuring nuclear safety of the region.

-Strengthening cooperation between nuclear research centers in the area of peaceful applications of nuclear technology. A decision has been taken on this subject at the IAEA general conference in September 2000 and IAEA will extend its services to BSEC members at a regional level.

-Preparing regional projects within the framework of IAEA technical assistance programme to license and upgrade nuclear laboratories that can control food quality, development of regional protection techniques against radiation, regional projects for non-destructive testing of oil and natural gas pipelines, food irradiation and application of nuclear techniques in medicine and biology.

-Contacts are being pursued for the organization of a workshop on natural gas transportation issues in the BSEC region, by BSEC and the OECD International Energy Agency.

2. Cooperation in the Area of Transport

Turkey believes that upgrading and harmonization of the existing transport network to create an efficient multimodal regional transport system will enhance cooperation in a number of areas including trade facilitation among BSEC countries as indicated in the Agenda 2000. To this end the Action Plan mediated by the BSEC Working Group on Transport and adopted at the Meeting of Ministers of Transport held in Sochi on March 20, 2001, outlines clearly the activities to be undertaken in the transport domain.

In this context, Turkey is ready for the reactivation of the concept of the Black Sea Ring Corridor which was originally one of the very first ideas on the transport domain to connect the BSEC countries by land, rail and sea transport.

Turkey will ensure the substantiation of the concept of the Black Sea Ring Corridor in the following steps:

1. Elaborating a detailed definition of the Black Sea Ring Corridor

2. Preparing a data base of the existing infrastructure on the Ring Corridor including their conformity with the UNECE's standards.

3. Collecting information on the adherence of BSEC states to the UNECE's agreements or protocols in the field of transport.

4. Elaboration of specific projects to ameliorate the existing transport infrastructure.

5. Enactment of binding legal instruments such as agreements, protocols or MOU's, for the facilitation of movement of goods and persons within the regional countries.

For this purpose Turkey plans to have 2 sessions of the Working Group on Transport, the first in the first week of June where the detailed Transport Action Plan on Black Sea Ring Corridor will be discussed, the second in October where the activities undertaken will be examined and the results will be reported to the Council of Foreign Ministers to be held at the end of October.

3. Promotion of Intraregional Trade and Cooperation with WTO and OECD

Turkey fully supports the concept adopted in BSEC Agenda 2000 under this title, that trade being a key determinant of overall economic activity, will play a growing role in the Black Sea region and believes that facilitation and liberalization of trade in the region by elimination of numerous tariff and non-tariff barriers should be a key sector of activity of the Organization. In pursuit of this goal, the Organization will be seeking cooperation with other regional and international organizations.

As a first step,

a) A MOU for facilitation of transport of goods will be drafted parallel to SECI MOU on this subject.

b) The Turkish Patent Institute will organize a symposium on European Patent System in Istanbul, from May 22-23, 2001, where BSEC countries will be invited .

c) The Balkan Regional Center for trade promotion will be utilized to give on- the- job training to members in which such trade promotion centers are in the process of being established.

d) Turkey will encourage the completion of the process of accession to the WTO for those BSEC members who are not members of WTO. This will be done by sharing WTO members' experiences with non members in the negotiating mechanism of WTO.

e) An internet BSEC portal will be developed in cooperation with the BSEC Business Council to provide information about trade statistics, policies, legislation of member countries, to provide links to websites of country institutions as well as to international sites and to act as a networking and matchmaking tool for business opportunities.

f) A list of non-tariff barriers and border crossing procedures should be collected as agreed during the meeting of the Working Group on Trade in Thessaloniki in December 2000, in order to prepare a model for the liberalisation of trade.

As the World Trade Organization with its established instruments and structure is considered to be well placed to contribute to the promotion of regional trade, close cooperation with this organization will be pursued.

During the Turkish chairmanship, in collaboration with the WTO, a seminar on regionalism, followed by a meeting of the BSEC Working Group on Trade on June 28-29, 2001 will be held on June 25-28, 2001 in Istanbul. Experts from WTO will participate in this working group. The main item of both the seminar and the working group, will be the launching of the work on trade facilitation and liberalization in the region.

g) The BSEC Statistical Data and Economic Information Coordination Center will be making two publications.

- a three monthly publication about data on Turkey's trade with BSEC countries

- social and economic indicators of BSEC countries.

- It will also give consultation services and technical assistance to BSEC countries on their request in the areas of statistical collection and evaluation.

h) Close cooperation between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and BSEC is of significance in the process of integrating the BSEC countries into the global economy by adapting themselves to the OECD standards.

 

In this regard, a two-day seminar will be held in coordination with OECD in the OECD Istanbul Private Sector Development Center in September 2001, on the subject of "Cross-Border Partnership for Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion in the Countries of BSEC". BSEC members are expected to attend this seminar and benefit from OECD expertise in this field.

Support for SME's in the Region

Turkey believes SMEs constitute the majority of private enterprises in the region and play a pivotal role in the economic development of the region.

- The BSEC Business Council has been holding periodic meetings with the support of the Konrad Adeneur Foundation in different areas of SME development. During Turkish chairmanship, a meeting of Ministers responsible for SME's, will be held in Istanbul, in September 2001 on the subject.

- KOSGEB, the Turkish SMEs Union, will pursue exchange of information and share its experiences with member countries' private sectors through KOBINET, the SME Network.

4. Academic Cooperation - Cooperation with ICBSS and Black Sea Universities Network

Cooperation of the ICBSS, the International Center for Black Sea Studies, with the academic and scientific institutions of the regional countries will be strengthened for the elaboration of specific projects. In this respect the existing capacities in the region will be made available to the BSEC member states.

Cooperation with the Black Sea Universities Network

This Network will further be encouraged to promote the exchange of students, the organization of summer study tours and periodic meetings of university rectors.

5. Establishment of a BSEC Regional Stock Market

Turkey fully supports this objective of the Agenda 2000 and the setting up of an institutional framework under the BSEC umbrella that would be a useful step towards encouraging investments as well as elaboration of investment guarantee schemes. Turkey hosts the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges (FEAS) and hopes that those BSEC members who are not members should adhere to FEAS which will serve as a forum for the harmonization of their legislations relating to the stock market. (BSEC members who are also members of FEAS are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova,Turkey, Ukraine.)

Furthermore, the Capital Markets Board of Turkey proposes to assist in the harmonization of the related legislature of BSEC countries and to share its long standing experience with them.

6. Agricultural Development and Food Security

Turkey supports the steps to be undertaken for agricultural development and for the enhancement of food security in the BSEC region as foreseen in the Agenda 2000. In order to contribute to the objectives of the Agenda, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has proposed the following activities:

a) Turkey is ready to propose to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations the initiation of two specific projects for the BSEC region titled "Plant Genetic Resources" and "Bread Seed Network". Such endeavors ultimately aim to attain cooperation not only amongst the BSEC members themselves but also between the BSEC organization and FAO.

b) In a similar context, Turkey supports the extension of the tripartite cooperation (between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece) on food and mouth disease (FMD) to the entire BSEC region as a preemptive measure to halt the possible spread of the FMD.

Producing positive and effective results in tackling and containing the FMD will require cooperation with international organizations and offices, such as World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and FAO.

c) Turkey has prepared a project, along with a detailed action plan, for the "Promotion of Beekeeping Among Low Income Rural Families for Supplementary Earnings in the Member States of BSEC"

d) The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Turkey will provide training programmes for farmers and experts of the other member countries in the field of agriculture, based on requests from them.

e) Turkey supports the "Agricultural Trade and Food Security in the BSEC countries" project already submitted to FAO by BSEC and will pursue the implementation of this project by a project coordinator stationed in the BSEC Premises.

During the Turkish chairmanship, a meeting of the BSEC Working Group on Agriculture will be convened (at a date to be determined) to discuss and consider the aforementioned projects.

f) For the purpose of finalizing the “Draft Convention for Fisheries and Conservation of Living Resources of the Black Sea” within the framework of the BSEC Organization, Turkey will take up the draft text for discussions with the Senior Officials Committee.

7.Cooperation in Combating Organized Crime, Illegal Trafficking of Drugs, Arms, Terrorism, Corruption and Money Laundering

Turkey believes that the Agreement among the governments of BSEC on Cooperation in Combating Crime is a good framework to combat crime and terrorism in the region.

Turkey proposes to host a Police Liaison Center in Istanbul to serve as a coordinating unit for the region, and to make its expertise available in combating crime.

To give a new impetus to regional efforts to combat organized crime Turkey invites the BSEC Working Group on Combating Crime to meet in Istanbul on May 14-15 2001, to consider further effective measures. The proposals discussed at this Working Group including the Turkish proposal to set up a BSEC Police Liaison office will be considered at a meeting of Interior Ministers to be held in Kiev in September 2001.

As a member of the OECD, Turkey proposes to offer training and expertise in interdicting trafficking of illicit drugs, arms and in combating terrorism and arms smuggling at the OECD Center in Istanbul.

As a member of OECD and having developed the necessary mechanisms to implement the Party Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering, Turkey offers to share its experience with BSEC countries in their preparations to adhere to this framework of principles.

8. Cooperation at the Private Enterprise Level

Turkey fully supports the greater involvement of the private sector in the development and implementation of concrete BSEC projects.

The BSEC Business Council is the related BSEC body representing business circles of the region through its Board of Directors and its Secretary General.

Turkey will promote the activities of the BSEC Business Council by the following activities:

1. Multilateralization of the Business Council budget thus allowing all members of BSEC to share financial responsibility.

2. Holding periodic business forums in member countries on a sectoral basis. A forum will be held on October 29-30, 2001,in Yalta, on the subject of "Business Opportunities in the BSEC Region".

3. Preparation of a draft convention relating to the simplification of visa procedures for business circles bearing in mind the restrictions imposed by previous commitments. A draft is prepared by the Turkish government on this subject.

4. Preparation of an Investment Compact for the BSEC Region.

Turkey proposes the conclusion of an Investment Compact similar to the one enacted within the framework of the Stability Pact.

The objective of the Investment Compact will be to create a suitable atmosphere for sustained growth and development in the BSEC Region. It will set out a number of commitments for policy reform in order to:

a) create a robust and sustainable market economy.

b) encourage increasing local and foreign direct investment.

Initiatives to prepare a draft text along the objectives mentioned above are being pursued.

5. Preparation of a project on ECO Tourism.

6. Identification under a Joint Project, on a few of the Hot Spots in the Black Sea Basin.

7. Convening the third session of "A Tale of Three Seas Integrating with the World of Energy", in Istanbul on June 19-22, 2001 arranged by DEYK, BSECBC and CERA.

9. Cooperation Among National Televisions

Turkey attaches great importance to cooperation among media members of BSEC countries to better inform their people about the objectives, the achievements of BSEC and to exalt a favorable image of the Organization in the public opinion of the region. For these objectives the following activities are encouraged which hopefully will be confirmed by the subsequent chairing member countries.

A meeting under the aegis of PABSEC is planned for mid-May 2001, to be held in Bucharest to lay groundwork for cooperation among national televisions of the BSEC countries in which the Turkish National Television (TRT) will be taking part.

The Turkish National Television is also exploring the possibilities of producing and broadcasting of documentary films relating to member countries as well as the BSEC organization. In a similar context, the TRT is looking into the possibilities of enacting agreements with other member states' national televisions for the preparation of such films.

C. Strengthening cooperation with EU, USA and Other Major Donors

Noting the interest of the EU on projects relating to facilitation of trade, energy and transportation, their support and assistance will be sought on specific projects being prepared in these areas. USAID and USTDA's (US Trade Development Agency) assistance will also be sought in a possible BSEC project related to "BSEC Electrical Ring". Contacts with other major donors ie. Japan will be maintained for their contribution to individual BSEC projects.

This Program outlining the Turkish proposals has been developed in the light of the BSEC Agenda 2000, which is a very comprehensive framework of activities for the next decade. It constitutes a modest step on behalf of Turkey, towards the objectives set forth therein. However its success requires the full support of all member states. There is no doubt that every chairing member state will add its contribution towards the realization of our common goals.