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BLACKSEAFOR

For the purpose of enhancing peace and stability in the Black Sea area, by increasing regional co-operation, and improving good relationship, the idea of establishing a multinational naval on-call peace task force “The Black Sea Naval Co-Operation Task Group-BLACKSEAFOR” has been initiated by Turkey at the second Chiefs of the Black Sea Navies (CBSN) meeting which was held in Varna/Bulgaria in 1998.

BLACKSEAFOR establishment agreement was signed by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine on 2 April 2001 in İstanbul. BLACKSEAFOR was first activated in Gölcük/Turkey between 27 September-16 October 2001 under the Turkish command. The second activation was held in August 2002 at Sevastopol under the Ukrainian command and the third activation took place on 3-31 August 2003 under the command of Bulgaria. The first phase of the fourth activation was held on 5-27 August 2004 under the Georgian command. The second and last phase of the fourth activation is expected to be held on 4-27 April 2005.

Upon the invitation of Turkey, the “First Political Consultations” meeting of the BLACKSEAFOR took place at the level of representatives of Foreign Ministers in Ankara on 19 January 2004 with the participation of all Black Sea littoral countries. At that meeting, the representatives of the littoral countries underlined the strategically important location of the Black Sea. The representatives also reaffirmed their common understanding that security in the Black Sea constitutes primordial importance for the littoral states and that, therefore, they should take primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and stability in the area through the engagement of their common assets and capabilities. They further underlined the fact that BLACKSEAFOR is an already available instrument, which can be used for the achievement of this objective through various means compatible with the overall aims of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement. Within this context, the representatives shared the assessment that the Black Sea area should be protected against threats and challenges such as terrorism, organized crime, illegal trafficking and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This meeting emphasized the importance and necessity of further regional cooperation among the littorals for the creation of peace, security and stability in the Black Sea (see Ankara Communiqué).


On 7 July 2004, the Special Representatives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the level of Deputy Ministers or their equivalents of the participating States to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement met in Moscow for political consultations. On this occasion, the Special Representatives affirmed their conviction that co-operative action in the Black Sea aimed at preventing and eliminating the threat of terrorism, including illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction should be undertaken with urgency. With this understanding, Special Representatives decided to establish an Ad-Hoc Senior Level Experts Group to elaborate the principles and modalities of the employment of the BLACKSEAFOR for the purposes of preventing the threat of terrorism, including illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials (see Moscow Communiqué). In accordance with this task, the Ad-Hoc High Level Experts Group held its first meeting in Ankara on 29-30 November 2004. Its second meeting was convened in Istanbul, between 2-4 February 2005. The documents revised by Ad-Hoc High Level Experts Group at Istanbul were presented to the Special Representatives, who met in Kyiv on 31 March 2005. At Kyiv meeting, the Representatives re-affirmed their conviction that the littoral States should uphold their responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the Black Sea by utilizing efficiently the already available instruments of regional cooperation, namely BLACKSEAFOR and the Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures in the Naval Field in the Black Sea. The Representatives also welcomed the invitation extended by Turkey to the littoral States to join the operation “Black Sea Harmony”. At the Kyiv meeting, BLACKSEAFOR Special Representatives approved the Report on “Principles and Modalities of the Employment of the BLACKSEAFOR for the Purposes of Preventing the Threat of Terrorism and Illicit Trafficking in Weapons of Mass Destruction, their Means of Delivery and Related Materials” and Annex-A “Maritime Risk Assessment in the Black Sea”. The Special Representatives invited the Ad-Hoc High Level Experts Group to finalize its work on remaining Annexes (see Kyiv Communiqué).


Reference Texts:

Ankara Communiqué - 19 January 2004

Representatives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of participating States to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine) met in Ankara on 19 January 2004 for political consultations upon the invitation extended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey under Article VI of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement. The Commander of BLACKSEAFOR was also present at the meeting.

The representatives exchanged views on the newly emerging security environment in and around the Black Sea Region.

In this context, they underlined the strategically important location of the Black Sea in terms of political, economic and security circumstances in Europe and its wider environs.

The representatives reaffirmed their common understanding that security in the Black Sea constitutes primordial importance for the littoral states and that therefore they should take primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and stability in the area through the engagement of their common assets and capabilities. They underlined the fact that BLACKSEAFOR is an already available instrument, which can be used for the achievement of this objective through various means compatible with the overall aims of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement.
 
The representatives shared the assessment that the Black Sea area should be protected against threats and challenges such as terrorism, organized crime, illegal trafficking and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In this context, they emphasized the need to fight against terrorism within the framework of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement.

The representatives reiterated their resolve to further intensify cooperation in the areas specified in the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement.

The representatives emphasized the importance of the full and effective implementation of the document on "Confidence and Security Building Measures in the Naval Field in the Black Sea" as a substantial contribution to the consolidation and enhancement of peace and stability in the area.
The representatives agreed on the need to further examine the frequency of the activation of BLACKSEAFOR on the basis of two or more activations per year with a view to enhancing interoperability within the Force.

The representatives exchanged views on cooperation in information sharing, employment of command/control/communications capabilities, training opportunities through exercises and other tasks that may be contemplated in the future for enhanced cooperation among the participating States to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement.

The representatives underlined that the activities of BLACKSEAFOR are undertaken in full transparency. They agreed to seek achieving synergy-with other international security institutions and regional initiatives, as appropriate.

Political consultations will continue in the future. While keeping the option of an earlier meeting open, the representatives welcomed the kind offer of Ukraine to host the next consultations meeting at the end of 2004 or the beginning of next year. Please see the official website for BLACKSEAFOR for further information: www.blackseafor.org.

Moscow Communiqué - 7 July 2004

The special representatives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the level of Deputy Ministers or their equivalents (hereinafter referred to as special representatives) of the participating States to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine) met in Moscow for political consultations on July 7, 2004 under the provisions of Article VI of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement.

Consultations were held to take stock of current BLACKSEAFOR activities and to consider the potential of the BLACKSEAFOR, under Article IV/2/f of the said Agreement, to address new risks and challenges to security in the Black Sea.

The special representatives affirmed their conviction that co-operative action in the Black Sea aimed at preventing the threat of terrorism and illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials, in keeping with the relevant TJNSC Resolutions, notably Resolutions 1373 of 28 September, 2001 and 1540 of 28 April, 2004, should be undertaken. It is understood that this co-operative action shall not impede legitimate economic, scientific and technological cooperation.
The special representatives agreed that the littoral States will uphold their responsibility for countering the threats, risks and challenges in the Black Sea. The BLACKSEAFOR is an instrument available to be used effectively for the achievement of this objective, as appropriate, under the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement.

The special representatives decided to establish under Article VI/2 of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement an ad hoc subordinate group composed of senior level experts from the MFA and/or MOD including legal advisers to conduct a comprehensive analysis and to elaborate principles and modalities of the employment of the BLACKSEAFOR for the purposes of preventing the threat of terrorism and illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials. The initial results of this work are to be reported to the special representatives of the participating States at their next meeting. The special representatives appreciated the progress achieved so far by the Black Sea Naval Commanders (BSNC) Committee on this issue and invite the BSNC to finalize its work as soon as possible on:

- the drafting of specific proposals to enhance cooperation in the area of command, control and communication, as well as information sharing among the naval staffs. It will include the consideration of the establishment of a permanent command center and an information network center by naval authorities on a rotational basis in accordance with the change of command of the BLACKSEAFOR on the territory of that Participating State;

- the inclusion in activation programs of the BLACKSEAFOR the issue of training in countering terrorism and illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials starting from 2004;

- the scheduling of two activations per year, as well as the possibility to conduct unscheduled activations, as appropriate, of the BLACKSEAFOR as an On-Call Force, and report the intermediate results of the work accomplished to the special representatives of the participating States at their next meeting;

- an assessment of the operational availability of the assets assigned to the BLACKSEAFOR by the littoral states.

The special representatives will consider the above-mentioned reports at their next meeting in Kyiv early 2005 under Article VI with a view to adopting decisions, as appropriate.

Kyiv Communiqué - 31 March 2005

At the invitation of the Ukrainian Side, the special representatives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the level of Deputy Ministers (hereinafter referred to as the Representatives) of the participating States to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement met in Kyiv on March 31, 2005 under the provisions of Article VI of the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement to continue the process initiated at the First political consultations in Ankara on January 19, 2004 and proceeded by the extraordinary political consultations in Moscow on July 7, 2004 with a view to employing the potential of the BLACKSEAFOR for the purposes of addressing new risks and threats to security in the Black Sea.

The Representatives re-affirmed their conviction that the littoral States should uphold their responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the Black Sea by utilizing efficiently the already available instruments of regional cooperation, namely BLACKSEAFOR and the Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures in the Naval Field in the Black Sea. The Representatives also welcomed the invitation extended by Turkey to the littoral States to join the operation “Black Sea Harmony”. If accepted, the operation could strengthen maritime security cooperation amongst the BLACKSEAFOR participating States.

The Representatives are pleased with the progress achieved so far by the Ad Hoc Subordinate Senior Level Experts Group on elaboration of principles and modalities of the employment of the BLACKSEAFOR for the purposes of preventing the threat of terrorism and illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials. Appreciating the contribution of each Side to this effect, the Representatives expressed their gratitude, in particular, to the Turkish Side for presenting the Draft Report and appropriate Annexes for consideration of participating States, as well as for hosting the meetings of the Experts Group in Ankara (November 29-30, 2004) and Istanbul (February 2-4, 2005).

The Representatives assessed and approved the Report of the BLACKSEAFOR Ad Hoc Subordinate Senior Level Experts Group and Annex-A “Maritime Risk Assessment in the Black Sea” and invited the Group to finalize its work on remaining Annexes.

The activity of the Black Sea Naval Commanders (BSNC) with regard to implementation of the political guidelines set forth by the Representatives at their previous meetings in Ankara and Moscow was appreciated and further encouraged. In this context the Representatives, taking into consideration the recommendations of the BLACKSEAFOR Ad Hoc Subordinate Senior Level Experts Group, decided on the following political guidelines for BSNC:

a) extend the term of duty of Operational Control Authority (OPBLACKSEAFOR) from the existing period of time to a year-round basis by modifying Terms of Reference (TOR) of OPBLACKSEAFOR on the principle of rotation;

b) finalize drafting and approve the appropriate TOR, with due account of the initial results to be achieved on the matter by Ad Hoc Subordinate Senior Level Experts Group, in the area of command, control and communication for OPBLACKSEAFOR;

c) draft as soon as possible a multilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the Black Sea littoral States on exchange of information among national Points of Contact, as well as OPBLACKSEAFOR and COMBLACKSEAFOR, ensuring the protection of classified information. In parallel to this the participating States are invited to identify, according to their own domestic procedures, their Points of Contact, which would liaise efficiently with national law enforcement, customs and intelligence agencies and coordinate with other littoral States;

d) carry out maritime security trainings by BLACKSEAFOR, when activated.
BSNC was invited to report on fulfilment of the guidelines hereinabove to the Representatives at the next meeting to be held not later than December 2005.

The Representatives expressed their appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for hosting this meeting.

The delegations of Bulgaria, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine expressed their gratitude to Georgia for hosting the meeting in Tbilisi.

Tbilisi, 15 December 2005

At the invitation of the Georgian Side, the Special Representatives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs at the level of Deputy Ministers (hereinafter referred to as the Representatives) of the Participating States to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement met in Tbilisi on December 15, 2005 under the provisions of Article VI of the mentioned Agreement to continue the process initiated at the First political consultations in Ankara on January 19, 2004 proceeded by the meetings of the Special Representatives in Moscow on July 7, 2004 and in Kyiv on March 31, 2005 with a view to employing the potential of the BLACKSEAFOR for the purposes of preventing terrorism and illicit trafficking in WMD, their means of delivery and related materials.

The Representatives approved a document on “Legal Aspects Regarding BLACKSEAFOR’s Task of Preventing Terrorism and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Their Means of Delivery and Related Materials”.

The Representatives acknowledged the efforts undertaken this year by all participating states towards defining BLACKSEAFOR’s role in preventing terrorism and illicit trafficking in WMD, their means of delivery and related materials, resulted in some important achievements: the approval of the Report of the HLEG and its Annexes on Risk Assessment and Legal Aspects and the decision by the BSNC to extend the term of duty of OPBLACKSEAFOR from existing period of time to a year-round basis and the important contribution for drafting the Sub-concept for Operations and proposals of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for OPBLACKSEAFOR. They also expressed their satisfaction for successfully implementing, the Kyiv decision to carry out maritime security training by BLACKSEAFOR, during activations.
 
The Representatives:

reinstructed HLEG to complete as soon as possible, preferably in the first half of the year 2006, their work on the three remaining annexes to be submitted for approval to the Special Representatives meeting as follows:

a. Bilateral MOU on Confidential Information Exchange amongst States in accordance with article XI of the Agreement.

b. TOR for OPBLACKSEAFOR, taking into account the relevant texts attached to the 18 November 2005 BSNC report.

c. Sub-concept of operations (Sub-CONOPS) of BLACKSEAFOR (taking into account the BSNC report of 18 November 2005 as well as other proposals made by parties at the Tbilisi meeting of Special Representatives).

instructed BSNC to continue conducting maritime thematic exercises, including maritime security trainings with a view to increasing interoperability, including through PC to PC communications system provided by Turkey, and to perform exercises connected with other regional exercises and operations during activation.

Georgia announced its POC on information exchange.

The Representatives will reassess the results of the HLEG and BSNC work at their next meeting to be established through diplomatic channels.



OPERATION BLACK SEA HARMONY

Operation Black Sea Harmony is initiated by the Turkish Naval Forces Command on 1 March 2004. Operation Black Sea Harmony is closely affiliated with NATO and complements NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, is recognized as a major security provider in the Black Sea maritime domain.

This Operation has a multinational character with the participation of the Russian Federation and Ukraine (These two countries joined Black Sea Harmony on 27 December 2006 and 25 April 2007 respectively).

In March 2008, Romania also decided to join this operation fully.