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Black Sea Horizon

 

H.E. Mr. Vladimir IVANOVSKIY *

Fifteenth anniversary. It is not too much, but not too few either. How do our country see the future of the Black sea? What is expected in Russia from the Organization of the Black sea Economic Cooperation the fifteenth anniversary of which will be celebrated on 25 July 2007. Which way will it develop?

There is an opinion, that to make forecasts is very ungrateful matter. And I am not making them. I simply want to believe, that in the case with the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation – it is a road to the bright horizons and the role of this Organization in the region will become more important. I am sure, that the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is capable to provide the effective coordination of the multilateral economic cooperation on the intergovernmental level. The experience of Russia, being the chairman of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in May-October 2006 shows, that such opinion is shared by the majority of the countries-participants of this Organization.

From the geopolitical point of view the region of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is one of the most important elements on the map of the world. Its importance is accepted both in the countries of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and far beyond its borders. In fact, it is a huge Euro-Asian transportation and energy complex with the socially active population and dynamically developing economy. At the same time it would be wrong to separate the processes, taking place in the region, from the global processes. It is our mutual interest, that the Black Sea region is accepted in the world as a region of stability and development. The incomplete democratic reforms, the conflicts and leaning of the countries of the region towards the different integration centers to some extent complicates the opening of its potential. But this should not stop us. We should continue to work under this issue all together. The objective economic interests more and more insistently lead to understanding of the perspective mutual business initiative and to realization of the huge infrastructure, transport, energy, ecology and other projects. The structures of cooperation “Blackseafor”, formed in the region, are orientated towards creation of the favorable conditions for the increase of the regional mutual activities in different fields.

In Russia everybody is sure in the value of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation as a regional organization, having its own tasks, responsibilities and great potential for the development of the economic relations in the region. It is necessary only to use this potential with maximum efficiency. But we are very careful about the formation of new structures. Because this can lead to unjustified duplicating and to distraction of the forces from the tasks of the increase of efficiency of the proven forms of cooperation.

I would like to touch a subject of the coming summit. There is no doubt that it will be a remarkable event not only from the point of view of its format, but what is more important, from the point of view of the logic of processes, taking place in the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and strengthening of the international status and authority of this organization, increase of its profile in the context of political priorities of the countries-participants. The exchange of the opinions at the highest level will provide the possibility “to check the time”, concerning the matters of principal of the activities of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, including its concentration on the most important question, that is - establishing regional economic cooperation and effective usage of the experience and instruments, gained by the Organization in practice. In general, this summit should define the vector of the development of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation for the future. It is especially urgent, taking into consideration the increasing geopolitical and economic importance of the Black sea region in the context of the European and world processes and its relevance to the events, taking place in the neighborhood. I mean Middle East, Iraq and Iran.

It is hard not to notice, that the regional processes are activated practically everywhere. The integration on the territory of European Union is continuing, the re-comprehension of the CIS countries and such structures, as Euro-Asian Economic Cooperation and Organization of the Treaty of the Collective Security. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation are active as well. Although it is a paradox, but a fact – the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, functioning in the region, located on the border of the continents and crossroad of the important energy and transport ways, and having an enormous human and economic potential with rather active bilateral relations between the countries-participants, if you look closer, stands somewhere on the side of the road, without noticeable interest of its participants. Such situation can be explained by the obvious logical disparity between the statements about the importance of the Black sea region and organization, uniting its countries, and absence of the corresponding investments of the countries-participants and big business.

To improve the situation without the considerable investments (including financial) of the countries-participants seems to be impossible. Our main companies, which quite often look upon the situation from different angle than the official one, should become interested in realization of the priority transport and energy projects. By stimulating the interest to activate the practical work, it is necessary to intensify the participation and strength of the existing mechanisms of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and Foundation of the Development of the Projects of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in the realization of the economical tasks of the development of the region. And at last, the usage of the existing political potential for consolidation, if it is possible, under the guidance of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in realization of the cooperation projects, already realizing by the big business companies, including EU, would help to enrich its activities.

Quite considerable resources, supported by the interest of the business association, are available in the regional formations and municipalities of the countries of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, adjoining Black sea. In particular, the participants of the informal meeting, which took place in Taganrog, Rostov region in June 2006, had a chance to see this. The presentation of Krasnodarskiy region in Istanbul in October 2006 had a sound echo. The evaluations show, that this direction is a serious reserve of the possibilities of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and should be used more actively. In our opinion, the Black sea games, which are planning to be held in Trabzon in July 2007, belong to this kind of activities. They will bring the countries of the region closer to each other, provide the possibility to know the other cities, except the capitals, show the color and cultural wealth of the Black sea region in reality.

The other important factor, influencing on the perspectives of the development of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is certainly the dialogue with the European Union. It is known, that upon the initiative of the Germany, presiding in EU at present, the issue about the new European policy of neighboring for the Black sea region is under examination. However, recognizing the importance of the institutionalization of the relations between the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and European Union, the really key issue is the concrete transition to the realization of the big multilateral programs and cooperation projects, having the great importance for the economy of the countries of the region in the framework of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. The possibility of realization of the big mutual projects in the region is the main result of stirring up the dialogue between the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and EU. As we understand, the main thing is to define the objectives of such cooperation in a realistic way. The documents, regulating the basis of the relations between the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and EU should provide the common understanding of the trends of the economic cooperation, which have the priority in this system of the relations. Of course, the big-scale projects will be easier to realize together with EU.

We understand the different levels of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and EU, but in spite of this we suppose, that the partnership cooperation may help to strengthen the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and to increase the effectiveness of the EU policy in the Black sea region. The development of the bilateral relations of the EU with the countries of the region and intensification of the real cooperation with the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation are two parallel processes. We consider such cooperation as mutually profitable possibility for two equal partners to act effectively while solving the common tasks of improvement of the life standards of the people and strengthening the peace and stability in the Black sea region.

There are good perspectives in such fields as transport and energy, because the development of these infrastructures requires close cooperation both in Western Europe and in the region of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation the readiness for cooperation has been demonstrated many times. It is desirable, that European Union would make some concrete proposals. The participation of the specialists of EC in the meetings of the working groups of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation would be helpful in the definition of the perspective directions of the cooperation between the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and EU. In the process of the equal and mutually profitable cooperation with European Union the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation should long to maintain and augment its identity.

How Russia sees the future of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation? Very likely the answer to this question can not be expressed in one sentence. The distance of fifteen years gives the right to think, that the continuation will follow. Large number of opinions has a right for existence: somebody will follow the model of others, somebody will keep to his own priorities.

I think the synonymous answers are not needed. The main thing is that this organization should become an organization, desired by its countries-participants. It should give them what they want.

It is necessary to remember – everything starts with us…

* Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Turkey