THE BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION
The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) was established on June 25, 1992, in Istanbul, when the Summit Declaration was signed by the Heads of State and Government of eleven countries – Republic of Albania, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Bulgaria, Georgia, Hellenic Republic, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Republic of Turkey and Ukraine. Republic of Serbia joined the Organization as a Member State in 2004.
The BSEC structure
The highest decision-making body of BSEC is the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the BSEC Member States. The Council’s regular meetings convene twice a year: in May/June and in November/December. In case of need special or informal meetings of the Council are convened. The regular meetings of the Council are being held in the Member States according to the principle of rotation and are regulated by the BSEC Chairmanship-in-Office. The Chairmanship itself is regulated by the same principle. The term of the Chairmanship is six months, starting from January 1 and July 1.
The Committee of Senior Officials of BSEC is accountable to the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and operates on behalf of the latter. The Committee is endowed with the appropriate functions and responsibility to implement the activities of the Organization.
On March 10, 1994, the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat (PERMIS) was established in Istanbul by the decision of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Greek Ambassador Mr. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos (the first ambassador of Greece to RA) assumed the post of the Secretary General of the BSEC PERMIS in May 2006.
Since 1995, has been fanctioning the mechanism of "Troika", a consulting type of a structure within BSEC, which includes the former, present and future chairmen-in-office.
The following countries have the observer status with the Organization: Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of Austria, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Croatia, Czech Republic, French Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, State of Israel, Republic of Italy, Republic of Poland, Slovak Republic, Republic of Tunisia, United States of America. The European Union is among a number of international organizations enjoying the same status. Republic of Hungary, Islamic Republic of Iran, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Japan, Republic of Korea, Montenegro, Republic of Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and some international organizations have the status of the BSEC sectoral dialogue partner.
The Parliamentary Assembly of BSEC (PABSEC), the BSEC Business Council (BC), the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) and the International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) are the organizations related to BSEC.They are independent bodies with their own statutes (which provisions are harmonized with the Charter of BSEC), separate budgets, headquarters and the agenda of activities.
Representation of Armenia to BSEC
The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to BSEC was established in Istanbul in August 2001. Mr. Michael Vardanian is the Head of the Mission.
Representation of BSEC in Armenia
The Organization of BSEC is not represented in Armenia.
The priorities of BSEC
BSEC is called to maintain the Black Sea region a stable and prosperous area through the multilateral economic cooperation among its Member States. The Organization covers the geography with an area of nearly 20 million square kilometers, including the Black Sea, the Balkan and Caucasian countries, situated on the two continents and representing a region of some 350 million people. The area of BSEC, which is rich in oil and gas, as well as other natural resources, has been one of the major transport and energy transit corridors. The foreign trade capacity among the Member States is over USD 300 billion annually.
The priorities of BSEC as indicated in its Charter formulate the cooperation areas as trade and economic development, banking and finance, communications, energy, transport, agriculture and agricultural industry, health and pharmaceutics, environment protection, tourism, science and technology, the exchange of statistic data and economic information, the cooperation between customs and border authorities, fighting organized crime, drugs, illegal import of weapons and radioactive materials, terrorism and illegal emigration, the extermination of emergency consequences, small and middle business, education, institutional renewal and good governance.
The issues on improvement of the BSEC efficiency and elaborating a BSEC new economic agenda for future are among the priority concept programs of the Organization.
Signed treaties and agreements within the framework of BSEC
The BSEC Charter was adopted by the Heads of the BSEC Member States on June 5, 1998, at the Yalta Summit. On April 30, 1999, the Additional Protocol to the Charter on the privileges and immunity of BSEC was adopted. On June 25, 2004, a new Article 24 of the Charter was adopted, by which the International Center for Black Sea Studies was established as a related “think-tank” body of BSEC.
On April 15, 1998, in Sochi, the “Agreement among the Governments of the Participating States of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on Collaboration in Emergency Assistance and Emergency Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters” was adopted. The Additional Protocol to the Agreement was adopted in Kyiv, on October 20, 2005.
On October 2, 1998, in Kerkyra the “Agreement among the Governments of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Participating States on Cooperation in Combating Crime, in Particular in its Organized Forms” was adopted. The Additional Protocol to the Agreement was adopted in Kyiv, on March, 15, 2002. The Additional Protocol on Combating Terrorism to the Agreement was adopted in Athens, on December 3, 2004.
On March 6, 2002, in Kyiv, the “Memorandum of Understanding on Facilitation of Road Transport of Goods in the BSEC Region” was adopted. The Memoranda of Understanding on “Development of the Motorways of Sea at the BSEC Region” and on “Coordinated Development of the Black Sea Ring Highway” were adopted in Belgrade, on April 19, 2007. The Agreements on “Simplification of Visa Procedures for Professional Lorry Drivers Nationals of the BSEC Member States” and on “Simplification of Visa Procedures for Businesspeople Nationals of the BSEC Member States” were sighed in Tirana, on October 23, 2008.
On April 19, 2007, in Belgrade, the “Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation among Diplomatic Academies and Institutes of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation” was adopted.
Areas of cooperation
Since 2001, a number of joint statements and declarations have been adopted. In January, 2005, in Thessaloniki, the “Joint Declaration on the Connection of the Black Sea Transport Network with the Trans-European Transport Network within the Framework of the Euro-Asian Transport Links” was adopted. Declarations on prospective of cooperation in the field were adopted in Odessa (2008), Yerevan (2009) and Sofia (2010). Within the framework of the “Memorandum of Understanding on Facilitation of Road Transport of Goods in the BSEC Region” (2002) the “Pilot Project on the Issuing of the BSEC Transit Permit for Trucks” is being implemented.
In 2008, in Kyiv, the BSEC Ministers of Energy adopted an important document - the Declaration on Cooperation between BSEC and EU, where the progress in energy cooperation among the BSEC Member States was recorded, as well as was drafted the road map for BSEC-EU cooperation in the field. The follow-up declarations were adopted in Yerevan (2009), Sofia (2010) and Nafplion (2010). The “Draft Outline of the BSEC Strategy on Energy til 2020” and the “Regional Energy Study”, elaborated by the BSEC International Center for Black Sea Studies, as well as the “Green Energy Development Initiative” provided for by the Nafplion Declaration and the Japanese initiative on “How to Implement Energy Management Standards in the BSEC Countries”, are among the priority issues on the BSEC energy agenda.
Trade and economic development
A number of workshops, trainings and exhibitions are being organized yearly within the relevant Working Group in the Member States to facilitate and promote regional trade and attract investments. They are supported by international organizations, in particular, by UNIDO and its affiliated bodies. The complex issues on free trade zone and/or facilitated trade regime in the region are on the agenda of cooperation in trade. The first ever meeting of the Ministers in charge of Economy of the BSEC Member States held in Bucharest in May, 2011, and the Joint Declaration adopted at the meeting, will favour the further development of economic cooperation in the region.
Small and Medium Entrepreneurship
A number of concrete initiatives and programs are within the framework of cooperation in the field. The “Visiting Incubator/Technology Parks and Exchange of Best Practices, Knowledge and Experience among the BSEC Member States”, the BSEC Quality Award, “Women and Entrepreneurship”, “SMEs in the Time of Global Crisis”, “Green Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development” and others are among them.
The cooperation in the field are focused mainly on the priority issues on further development of the BSEC agriculture trade market, improvement of the export-import procedures, food safety, development and harmonization of the mechanisms for revealing and preventing non-secure products at the border, etc. The Member States attach importance to strengthening cooperation in the field with the relevant structures of the European Union.
In 2008, in Kyiv, the BSEC Heads of Customs Administrations adopted a concept document – the “Statement of the Heads of Customs Administrations of the BSEC Member States”, the implementation of provisions of which have been on the agenda of cooperation in the field. The issues on creation of the mechanism for preliminar exchange of information and the non-intrusive (x-ray) technologies are among them.
Since 2000, a number of joint statements and declarations have been adopted by the BSEC Ministers in charge and numerous events (workshops, conferences, trainings) have been arranged as a follow-up of the provisions of the “Agreement among the Governments of the Participating States of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on Collaboration in Emergency Assistance and Emergency Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters” adopted in 1998 and its Additional Protocol. One of the trainings on the response in emergencies was organized in Gyumri (Armenia) commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Spitak disaster.The BSEC seismologists will from now on cooperate closely within the framework of the newly established ad hoc Working Group of Experts in Seismic Risk under the BSEC Working Group on Cooperation in Emergency Assistance.
Combating organized crimes
Since 1996, a number of joint statements and declarations have been adopted by the BSEC Ministers in charge on strengthening cooperation in combating crimes, terrorism, trafficking and illegal migration. The cooperation stepped in the more practical and concrete phase after the signing of the “Agreement among the Governments of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Participating States on Cooperation in Combating Crime, in Particular in its Organized Forms” in 1998 and its additional protocols (2002, 2004). The 2006 Bucharest Joint Declaration resulted in creating the more project-oriented agenda of cooperation. The BSEC-UNODC joint project on “Strengthening the Criminal Justice Response to Trafficking in Persons in the Black Sea Region” is being implemented through the “Regional Action Plan on Cooperation in the Field of Criminal Justice Response to Trafficking in Persons in the Black Sea Region” by means of the “Model Guide on Strengthening the National Criminal Justice Response to Trafficking in Persons in the Black Sea Region”. The other projects on cooperation in the field are called “Annual Review of the Trends of Trans-National Crime in the BSEC Region”, “Preventing Terrorist Travel – Sharing Best Practicies”, ”Migration Policy in the Black Sea Region”, etc.
Science and Technology
The Joint Statement, adopted by the Ministers in charge in 2007, has been the road map for enhancing cooperation in the field of Science and Technology. The cooperation among the Member States is being exercised within the framework of the Action Plan for 2010-2014. The so called “Framework Programs – 7” are the basis of the BSEC-EU interaction in the field. In November, 2010, in Thessaloniki, the “Memorandum of Intent between the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Government of the United States of America on Science and Technology Cooperation” was signed, which provides also practical measures for its implementation.
Information and Communication Technologies
The Joint Declaration, adopted by the Ministers in charge in 2006, and the “Joint Declaration of the Forum of the Black Sea Broadcasting Regulatory Authorities” (2008)have been the road map for enhancing cooperation in the field of ICT. Since 2009, a number of projects, such as the “Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway” and the “Black Sea Interconnection”, have been initiated by the Member States. In 2011, the Republic of Korea, a sectoral dialogue partner to BSEC, initiated a project for cooperation in the field.
The cooperation in the field of nature protection is being exercised within the frameworks of the Joint Declarations adopted by the BSEC Ministers in charge in Bucharest in 2006 and 2011, as well as the BSEC-EU Declaration adopted in Kyiv in 2008. Among the numerous projects, which have been implemented or are being implemented there are priority project initiatives on the “Legal Framework for a Green Economy within BSEC Member States – Regional Review and Dialogue on Systems and Perspectives” (proposed by Germany), the “Black Sea Turns Green” (Greek Chairmanship in BSEC), the “Working Paper on the Possible Means of Strengthening the Cooperation of the BSEC with International Organizations Dealing with Issues of the Protection and Rehabilitation of the Black Sea Marine Environment” and others. In March, 2011, in Brussels, the Platform for Cooperation within the “Eastern Partnership” framework was adopted, as well as the “Joint Declaration on Regional Cooperation in the Field of Environment Protection” and the “Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Black Sea Environment Partnership”.
The priority agenda of the BSEC Working Group on Health and Pharmaceutics incorporates the issues on epidemiological situation in the Member States, undertaking practical measures for preventing contagious diseases, elaborating a joint strategy for epidemiological surveillance within BSEC, establishing information exchange on preventing counterfeit medicines circulation, etc. The “Draft Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Sanitary Protection of the Territories of the BSEC Member States” is under the discussion within the Working Group.
Institutional Renewal and Good Governance
The cooperation in this field has been developed mainly within the provisions of the “Joint Declaration on Institutional Renewal and Good Governance of the Ministers in Charge of Public Administration of the BSEC Member States” adopted in Athens in 2007. The Member States introduce the achievements in the public administration services and governance, improvement of the civil servant institute efficiency, as well as projects on new technologies linked with the electronic circulation of information. The “Mulberry” system, presented by the Republic of Armenia, was a success and could be utilized as a patern for further cooperation..
The Joint Declarations, adopted by the Ministers of Education of the Member States in 2004 and 2005, as well as the Joint Statement by the BSEC high-ranking authorities made in 2007,have been the road map for enhancing cooperation in the field, improving technical and professional efficiency of the educational system. The Council of Europe proposed “The Living Library” project, the “Conference on National Qualifications Frameworks and Quality Assurance” and the “Joint Master Degree Program” are among the issues on the agenda for cooperation in education.
İn 2005 and 2011, in Athens, the “Joint Declaration on Cooperation in Tourism” and the “Declaration of the Ministers in Charge of Tourism of the Member States of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation” were adopted by the BSEC Ministers in charge. İn the meanwhile, a number of joint statements, proposals, protocols and project initiatives have been introduced for enhancing cooperation in the field (creating a branding of the Black Sea Region, establishing an association of tourism agencies and marketing council, developing a Maritime and Nautical Tourism, Balneology, Wellness and Spa Tourism etc), traditional BSEC tourism events were oprganized. The cultural tourism projects on “The Routes of Rose”, “The Routes of Coinage”, “Cultural Routes of the Roman Emperors”, “The Silk Road”, “Myths of the Two Seas”, “Legend of Argonauts”, “Vine and Wine Routes Project: Armenia”,“Wine Routes of Azerbaijan”, “Golden Fleece”, proposed by the Member States, the UNIDO’s “Alliances for Cultural Tourism in the Black Sea Region” and the “Wine Cultural Tourism Exchange Project” (WCTE), initiated by the Council of Europe, are on the priority agenda of BSEC.
The Ministers of Culture of the BSEC Member States adopted a Statement on enhancing cooperation in the field in Athens, in 2007. As a follow-up, a number of project proposals, such as the “Networks of Cooperation in the Field of Contemporary Culture”, “Cultural Itinerary”, “Intercultural Dialogue”,“Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture”, “Cultural News of the Black Sea Region”,“Black Sea Cultural Project (Cilicia)”were initiated by the Member States.
Project Development Fund (PDF)
Since 2003, when the Fund was established, 19 projects for enhancing economic cooperation in the region have been accomplished. The project on “Renewable Energy Sources” is on-going, two projects are pending for signing contracts. Among them one, on “Technology Transfer Network for the BSEC Region”, had been submitted by the Republic of Armenia as a lead partner. Among the 7 newly submitted applications (as of July, 2011), two had been also presented by the Republic of Armenia (as a lead partner) to be considered within the framework of cooperation in science and technology. The Armenian project proposal in the field of culture had been submitted for the consideration of the relevant Working Group.