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 27th Ministerial Meeting of BSEC, 15 December 2012, İstanbul

Distinguished Heads of Delegations,
Dear Colleagues,

As the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), I am honoured to host the 27th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the BSEC Member States.

The strategic importance of our region derives from its location which is situated at the intersection of major energy, transport and trade routes of Eurasia. It has a total population of 350 million, endowed with rich hydrocarbon resources, a strong scientific and technological base and high quality human resources.

The Black Sea region altogether represents 7.6% of the world’s economy. Its GDP grows 6% annually and total GDP amounts to 3.4 trillion USD along with a BSEC intra-trade volume amounts to almost 300 billion USD.

Moreover, the interest of the international community towards this region has grown significantly, and BSEC is viewed by the international community as a unique and credible partner.

On the other hand, deep historical and cultural ties among the BSEC member states consolidate our shared interests and create a mutually beneficial framework for cooperation and dialogue.

In fact, in many studies that explore the ages old encounters between Europe and Asia on the shores of the Black Sea, the academicians often reached similar conclusions: What makes the peoples of the Black Sea region distinctive is the way their commonalities came together over the millennia to shape interrelated societies, languages, and all the more important a uniquely vibrant trade.

This sort of humanitarian pattern in the broader Black Sea region, many historians argue, constituted the grassroots linkage between Europe and Asia.

We, the Foreign Ministers, have the duty to lead our countries to fulfill this historical potential and transform the Black Sea into a region of peace, stability and prosperity.
BSEC now stands as the main framework for multilateral cooperation in the region and has proven to be a significant platform for sustainable development.

Throughout its 20 years of existence, enhanced cooperation in the Black Sea region through BSEC mechanisms has generated economic benefits and also contributed to building confidence in the region. Moreover, BSEC promotes intercultural dialogue and enables regional networking and human interaction.
Turkey is a founding member of BSEC and host country of its Secretariat. We are fully committed to promoting peace, security and stability in our entire neighborhood. Accordingly, we have given priority to the cooperation within BSEC.

Dear Colleagues,
With this understanding, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you for the valuable contributions you have made to the 20th Anniversary Summit of BSEC on 26 June 2012, in İstanbul.

The successful organization of the Summit and high participation in the Anniversary was a reflection of the political will and support of the Member States, as well as the strong credibility of our Organization.

One of the main outcomes of the Summit was the “İstanbul Summit Declaration”. With this Declaration, the Member States renewed their commitment to the BSEC cooperation process at the highest level. Taking into account this fact, we should continue to join our hands within BSEC with a view to creating synergy for a more effective, efficient and visible BSEC.

In the context of the 20th Anniversary of the Organization, a new BSEC Economic Agenda for the next decade has been adopted as a roadmap to provide regional responses to global challenges.

The Economic Agenda sets out a new vision for the role and strategy of BSEC including the promotion of cooperation with our international partners such as the United Nations, European Union, OECD and others.

In the coming months and years, we expect the economic dimension of the Organization to be further reinforced through more project-oriented initiatives and actions.

With this understanding, Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office has focused on the implementation of the new Economic Agenda and an action plan has already been put forward.

We are pleased that we will be adopting today the action plan for the implementation of the new BSEC Economic Agenda in order to open up new avenues of cooperation.

That said, BSEC cannot be confined to economic cooperation. Its potential goes much beyond that. In today’s world, concepts such as democratization, pluralism, sustainable development, inclusiveness, intercultural dialogue are gaining importance. The need to bring solutions to the problems on the basis of international law and effective multilateralism has become more evident.

Besides bilateral relations, we also attach great importance to regional ownership. This is why you see Turkey either leading or taking a major part in variety of regional cooperation schemes, ranging from the Southeast European Cooperation Process to the Economic Cooperation Organization.

Esteemed Colleagues,
Allow me to give a brief overview of the activities of our Chairmanship-in-Office since 1 July 2012.
The main theme of the Turkish Chairmanship has been defined as “From regional cooperation to a zone of prosperity in the Black Sea Area.”

Having this vision, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office has promoted the participation of civil society organizations, business communities and academicians to enhance understanding and solidarity among our peoples.

The Turkish Chairmanship has focused on various areas of cooperation, which include transport, intra-regional trade and investments, sustainable energy, combating organized crime, education, involvement of youth and civil society, science and technology, taxation, culture and tourism, as well as strengthening the Organization and its cooperation with international partners. Within this framework, we have been implementing a rich calendar of events to foster BSEC cooperation in these areas.
Among the high level events in the Chairmanship calendar, an Informal Meeting of the BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs took place on 27 September 2012, in New York.

The meeting allowed us to exchange views on regional and global issues on the sidelines of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I have the pleasure to refer to the Resolution entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization” which has been adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 November 2012.

The said Resolution, tabled by the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office and was co-sponsored by the BSEC Member States and some BSEC Observers and Sectoral Dialogue Partners, reflects the excellent relations and the cooperation BSEC and the UN enjoy.

The Meeting of the Ministers in Charge of Finance in the framework of First Annual BSEC Tax Forum was organized on 20-23 November 2012, in Antalya, Turkey. The objective of the event was to discuss common challenges and to share best practices on taxation.

The event brought together the Ministers of Finance, senior decision makers in tax policy and administration, tax experts and academia from the BSEC Member States, as well as representatives of international organizations. With this Forum, we have launched the BSEC dialogue on international taxation.

Another high level event organized during the Turkish Chairmanship was the Meeting of the BSEC Ministers of Interior in İstanbul, on 23 November 2012. In this framework, a Joint Declaration on strengthening cooperation in combating transnational crimes, including human trafficking, terrorism and financial crimes was adopted.

The interest shown by the BSEC Ministers of Interior demonstrated the importance of the cooperation on combating crime and terrorism.

The third sectoral ministerial event of the Turkish Chairmanship, namely, the Meeting of the Ministers of Transport, was held in İzmir, on 28 November 2012.

In line with the new Economic Agenda, the BSEC Ministers of Transport addressed current developments and prospects for regional cooperation in the area of transport. The adoption of Izmir Joint Declaration emphasized the important joint transport projects linking Europe and Asia via BSEC region.

With no doubt, the promotion of economic cooperation and development remains at the heart of the BSEC’s mission.

In order to enhance BSEC cooperation in the sphere of trade, Turkey has decided to revitalize the project regarding the establishment of a BSEC Trade Center in Bursa during its Chairmanship-in-Office. Our proposal for the city of Bursa to host a BSEC Trade Center is currently being discussed at the relevant Working Group.

We believe that the BSEC Bursa Trade Centre project can contribute to furthering intra-BSEC trade relations and promoting closer networking among the Trade Centers in the region.

Furthermore, we have launched the process of re-activating the BSEC Coordination Center for the Exchange of Statistical Data and Information for the promotion of intra- regional trade and investments.

Last but not least, a Training Program was organized by the Diplomacy Academy of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Junior Diplomats from BSEC Member States in Ankara and İstanbul on 25 November-1 December 2012. We hope that the Training Program for Junior Diplomats from BSEC Member States becomes a tradition and is organized on a regular basis in all Member States as well, so that our younger generation of diplomats is provided an opportunity to get to know the region better and to establish networks among each other.

An improved communication is essential in presenting BSEC’s objectives, activities, projects and achievements in a clear manner to its stakeholders and ultimately to the general public.

Within this framework, it is important to effectively implement the newly adopted BSEC Public Communication Strategy which will contribute to promoting the visibility of the Organization at the national, regional and international levels.

Distinguished Colleagues,

It is important that we continue to put our efforts together to ensure that BSEC stays as an effective organization to serve the objectives of its Member States to the benefit of all.
BSEC, a mature international organization, plays a unique role in disseminating the message of peace and stability via concrete projects on the ground. The two flagship transport projects, namely the Black Sea Ring Highway Project and the Motorways of the Sea, are key to enhance trade ties between 350 million people across 20 million square kilometers. These projects knit lasting and close ties among our populations towards collective prosperity. We need to multiply the number of similar projects that produce concrete benefits for the prosperity of our region.

Turkey, therefore fully supports the strengthening of BSEC bodies. We need to have a clear vision and adequately prepare BSEC so that it is ready to operate efficiently by the year 2020 and beyond.

Taking this opportunity, I extend my best wishes of success to Ukraine which will be taking over the Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC as of 1 January 2012. We will be happy to share our experience with, and extend our full support to the upcoming Ukrainian Chairmanship.

Let me thank all member states and partners for their valuable contributions to the activities of BSEC towards further strengthening our cooperation during our term of Office for ensuring prosperity in our region.

Dear Colleagues,

It was called the Black Sea because sailors of long ago, if caught in a storm usually disappeared in the abyss therein.

Today, we have created a secure environment by way of “safe islands” through economic cooperation and enhanced dialogue in the Black Sea region. As such, we altogether managed to revisit the meaning of the Black Sea as a sea of hospitality and prosperity.

I thank you very much for your kind attention and wish every success to Ukraine during their Chairmanship-in-Office.