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Uluslararası Ekonomik Sorunlar;KEI - Özel Sayısı (International Economic Issues -BSEC-;Special Edition)

FOREWORD

H.E. Mr. Celalettin KART *

The BSEC was established 15 years ago, on the idea that stronger economic cooperation among the Black Sea countries would enhance stability in the region. Thus, its institutional framework was set up with the underlying motive of integrating the region into the world economy.

Encompassing an area of approximately 20 million square kilometers, with 330 million people, BSEC has a huge economic potential. Its vast natural and human resources enabled the BSEC countries to have remarkable economic growth and development. Over the past five years, the BSEC region as a whole has been one of the fastest growing in the world, with 6% annual GDP growth. Total GDP of the BSEC countries amounts to 3.4 trillion USD in 2005. It represents 7.6% of the overall world economy. The share of the BSEC countries in the world economy is increasing steadily.

Our Organization currently possesses all the features that can be expected from a regional cooperation platform. The BSEC has almost completed its reform process in Belgrade meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of 19 April 2007, and we believe that this will ensure a more rapid and effective way of decision-making. We also believe that what we now need is, to look forward and find a common vision and determination among the Member States for concrete achievements. These achievements should create added value for the daily lives of our peoples.

Working together with other international partners would also strengthen our Organization's capacity to carry out important projects. Due to its strategic importance, the Black Sea basin has become the focus of growing interest of major international actors including the EU. BSEC can take advantage of this new interest to explore new horizons. Since our last meeting in Moscow, two more BSEC countries have completed their accession to the EU: Bulgaria and Romania. We consider that this is bound to create a stronger dialogue between the BSEC and the EU.

Today's world is much different than the one when the BSEC was established. The importance of the Black Sea and Eurasia is on the rise. The Black Sea basin is becoming a centre of gravity regarding oil, energy and trade. We have every reason to believe that this trend will continue. Increasing political contacts, trade and tourism will bring the region to a more central position.

Turkey assumed the Chairmanship-in Office of the BSEC as of 1 May 2007 for a period of six months. The 15th Anniversary of the BSEC will be celebrated on 25 June 2007, during Turkey’s Chairmanship with the Participation of Heads of States and Governments of the Member States, as well as high level representatives of the observer countries and international organizations. It is the common will of the BSEC Member States to make this Summit a milestone for the Organization, through giving fresh guidance according to the contemporary needs and expectations, making the BSEC a project-oriented Organization that would yield tangible benefits to the Member States and their peoples. Capitalizing or/the growing interest of the international community to the region, we have to concentrate' on practical steps in order to define the focus of the organization on the areas of common 'interest and expand and consolidate the outreach of the BSEC to live up to the potential of the region in full.

*Ambassador, Director General for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs