#

Joint Press Release Issued After the Third Experts Meeting of the Black Sea Cooperation Countries February 26, 1999

As a follow-up to the endeavours for the creation of a "Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group" (Blackseafor) with a view to contributing to efforts aimed at the enhancement of peace and stability in the Black Sea area as well as promoting regional cooperation among the Black Sea Littoral states, experts from Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine have participated in the third experts meeting held in Istanbul, from 24 to 26 February 1999.

The participating nations reiterated their support for the above mentioned initiative and had a new round of extensive exchange of views on the agreements concerning the establishment of the Blackseafor and further developed the terms of references of the Black Sea naval commanders committeee (BSNC) and the planning group.

In this respect the participants confirmed that the mission of the force will be to contribute to the further strengthening of friendship, good relations and mutual confidence among the Black Sea littoral states as well as to improve peace and stability in the region, through contributing to the enhancement of cooperation and interoperability between their maritime forces. They have also confirmed that the Blackseafor may also be available for possible employment in un or OSCE mandated peace support operations as well as in "coalition of the willing" type international initiatives.

The experts of the participating nations expressed their gratitude to the authorities of the republic of Turkey for hosting this meeting.