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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Speech Delivered by H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, at the 28th Ministerial Meeting of BSEC, 21 June 2013, Odessa

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be in Ukraine and to attend the 28th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in the beautiful city of Odessa.

I would like to thank my distinguished colleague, Mr. Leonid Kozhara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, for the warm hospitality extended to me, my delegation and all other delegations. I also would like to commend Ukraine for a very successful Chairmanship-in-Office, which strengthened the momentum behind the BSEC activities.

I would like to welcome also my dear colleagues, Mr. Leonide Kozhara and Ms. Natalia Gherman, Deputy Prime-Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, for participating their first BSEC Meeting and welcome them to our club.


Dear Colleagues,

- The Black Sea Region encompasses an area of nearly 20 million square kilometers.

- Its population is over 330 million people.

- Connecting major transportation and trade routes, as well as crucial energy corridors of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the Black Sea Region presents huge opportunities.

- The region altogether represents 7.6% of the world’s economy.

- Its GDP grows 6% annually despite the economic crisis.

- Its total GDP amounts to 3.4 trillion USD.

- BSEC intra-trade volume amounts to almost 300 billion USD.

Taking stock of these assets, it is important that we intensify our efforts in order to tap the potential of BSEC and turn its activities into a format which serves in the interest of all our people.

One of the main pillars of Turkey’s strategy during its Chairmanship last year was to make every effort towards;

- increasing intra-BSEC trade and investments,
- ensuring sustainable development of the BSEC region,
- increasing the role of the civil society,
- making an institutional reform of the BSEC by initiating new projects and ideas.

In fact our strategy was also reflected in the Action Plan of the new BSEC Economic Agenda which was endorsed at the Istanbul Summit, in June 2012.

As the previous Chairman-in-Office of BSEC, I proudly note that we have made significant progress on main aspects of the priorities of BSEC for the upcoming years.

Dear Colleagues,

The new Economic Agenda and the Action Plan which we have adopted last year are a solemn promise and a call to action towards initiating new projects. We need to make BSEC an effective mechanism to serve its goals to the benefit of all. Hence, we need to effectively implement it and intensify our effort towards this goal.

Europe is passing through an economic crisis. But economic crises and austerity measures should not be put forward as excuses to waver from our joint commitment to furthering our relations and promoting cooperation and integration in the region. On the contrary, this is a time that BSEC could use as an opportunity.

This Organization should bring each of us closer and enrich our strategic vision. We should assume the ownership of our region and BSEC fervidly. We should leave the status quo behind and bring new thinking, dynamism and synergy to the Organization.

At this point, economic interdependence gains utmost importance. We all know that each BSEC member country has its own relative advantages in different economic fields. If we can be successful in blending these advantages for the common interest of BSEC countries, then we can talk about an enhanced regional trade. Besides, to reach similar levels of economic cooperation and integration and to institutionalize our trade relations, it is clear that we need to take some concrete steps and a change in our mentality.

Turkey has always been an avid pioneer for the improvement of the existing bonds of cooperation among the BSEC member states. On the bilateral side, due to the recent efforts by our government and by utilizing every possible means and opportunity, our bilateral trade with the region advanced immensely. Those means included, high level visits, joint economic commission meetings, business councils and in the case of Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine, “High Level Strategic Cooperation Councils”.

Turkey’s total trade volume with the BSEC region, which was recorded as 10 billion dollars in 2002, reached to 60 billion dollars in 2012, which corresponds to an 500% increase. Thus, we were able to increase our trade volumes with the our all neighbors.

Similarly, our bilateral trade volume with BSEC partners recorded remarkable booms in the mentioned period:

- With Azerbaijan 890%,
- Russia 557%,
- Bulgaria 400%,
- the host country Ukraine 377%,
- and with Romania 366%.

The cumulative total of projects Turkish contracting and consultancy companies have undertaken in the BSEC region is 47 billion dollars as of the end of 2012.

The total amount of Turkish investments was realized as almost 10 billion dollars in the same period.

These figures are concrete examples of BSEC’s to the increase of intra-BSEC trade and investments.

Distinguished colleagues,

I would like to stress the importance of the project-oriented approach of our Organization which will further and deepen our cooperation in the priority areas of common interest such as energy, environmental protection, trade, transport, and combating terrorism, and all forms of organized crime.

In this context, what we need is continued political will and concrete projects in the areas which would create tangible results to improve the quality of the daily lives of our peoples.

Let me give a few examples:

- We attribute great importance to the implementation of the MoU on the Facilitation of Road Transport of Goods. We are glad that the BSEC Transit Permit, namely “Fast Track Project” continues to be implemented in 2013. Thanks to the multi-party transit pass, our transport operators pass through these 7 countries without need for an additional bilateral or transit documents.

- We also think that efforts towards providing long-term, multi-entry visas and simplification and acceleration of border crossing procedures need to be intensified at regional scale. We have a very good example like Georgia where there is no visas and passports is not required for traveling between our countries.

- We also look forward to seeing the finalization of the Black Sea Ring Highway route, shortly.

- As you also know, we have a joint Model Highway Initiative (MHI) Project on Baku-Tbilisi-Batumi-Trabzon with Georgia and Azerbaijan. We are happy that the Working Group of the MHI has been established and its Rules of Procedures has already been adopted.

- Another vital cooperation area for BSEC Member States is the project on the development of the Motorways of the Sea (MoS) in the region. The project would contribute to strengthening of the maritime links among our ports. As you know, Turkey started hosting the Technical Secretariat of MoS for two years starting from May 2013.

- Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan have jointly undertaken the construction of a modern railway linking the city of Kars in Turkey with Tbilisi and Baku which will connect from Beijing to London. The railway connection will facilitate the movement of passengers and goods and thus constitute a strategic component of energy and transport corridors linking the Caspian basin to Black Sea and lastly to Europe.

- The combined international railway-ferryboat transportation between Samsun and Kavkaz port of Russia commenced last year.

- Another example of such a cooperation project is ferry services between Turkish port of Derince and İliçevsk port of Ukraine.

We would welcome projects to increase similar means of transportation among our countries.

The strategic importance of the region also derives from its location which is at the intersection of major energy routes of Eurasia. The Caucasus is home to rich hydrocarbon resources and serves as a gate to Central Asia. In this context, we value the regional cooperation projects we realized so far such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) Natural Gas Pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project and Trans Anatolian Gas Pipeline.

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to observe that, throughout its 20 years of existence, the interest of the international community towards this region has been growing. As a matter of fact, BSEC is also regarded as an important contributor to peace and stability in the region and beyond by bringing together all countries of the wider Black Sea area in a spirit of close cooperation. Security and stability of the region is directly connected to the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic region as well as Eurasia.

Enhancing the coordination and interaction with the Observers and the Sectoral Dialogue Partners as well as BSEC Related Bodies, is essential to improve both the content and the mechanisms of work of our Organization.

Strengthening smooth functioning of the BSEC Secretariat and its Related Bodies is also an important component of the effectiveness of our Organization which we consider as the best platform for economic cooperation in the Black Sea Region.

Within this framework, we welcome the interest shown by BSEC Observers and Sectoral Dialogue Partners, as well as other non-Black Sea countries and organizations to establish partnerships and cooperation with BSEC.

Keeping this in mind, we are also pleased to note that the cooperation between BSEC and the UN bodies, as well as other international organizations such as the UNDP and the Danube Commission is also gaining impetus.

We should not underestimate the significance of the Black Sea dimension in the world politics and the Organization itself. We have every reason to believe that this trend will continue.

Therefore, we are expecting new initiatives from the BSEC Member States to further strengthen our organization and fulfill the historical mission of the BSEC.

Distinguished colleagues,
Heads of Delegations,

Giving a project-oriented vision to BSEC depends on strengthening the Project Development Fund (PDF) of our Organization. We consider this Fund as a useful tool for undertaking new projects, which will help to strengthen the image, as well as the vision of BSEC.

However, at the moment the PDF does not have sufficient resources to provide a meaningful amount of finance for major projects. Therefore, we strongly encourage all stakeholders of BSEC to lend their support to the Fund.

Excellencies,

Cooperation in maritime issues, particularly in the fields of safety of navigation, maintenance of security, protection of marine environment and fisheries could be further developed via home-grown initiatives and mechanisms to be established with the participation of the littoral countries.

Turkey would not prefer non-littoral actors act as an umbrella organization and set the priorities, policies, regulations and/or rules on maritime issues for the Black Sea. In this respect, Turkey believes that the EU’s and other organizations’ policies and efforts towards ensuring efficient and integrated maritime activities in the Black Sea should be complimentary to the already existing efforts and cooperation mechanisms among the littoral countries.

Distinguished Colleagues,

Before concluding, I would like to underline that it is the continued political commitment of all BSEC Member States that will take the Organization towards reaching its ultimate goal which is to turn the BSEC into an exemplary region of peace and prosperity.

As the initiator and the founding member of BSEC, Turkey is committed to fulfilling the goals expressed in the BSEC Charter.

Lastly, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations and appreciation to Ukraine for their successful Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC and for the excellent organization of this meeting.

To conclude, I would like to also congratulate Armenia on their Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC and wish them every success. We stand ready to continue to work with Armenia as the chair of BSEC and the other members of the Organization to this end to make it a success story in our region

Thank you.