Iryna Maksymenko, by 4JaAB3Tt


                                                                               Iryna Maksymenko


       The development of the Black Sea region
       During the last decade of the ХХ century all system of international relations falls under
influence of global events, which have changed the world. The geopolitical situation in the Black
Sea region (BSR) has changed cardinally. It should be mentioned that studying this region the
wider Black Sea region is under analysis. It means that in a broad sense of this concept the Black
Sea region includes not only country, which have an outlet to the Black Sea, but also all those
states, interests' of which get mixed up with the processes that are flowing past in indicated area.
Thus, lot of the states of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, the Caucasus and Asia have
appeared to be involved in international life in basin of the Black Sea. Process of finding of
independence by new independent states and necessity to be approved on a political stage to
defend the national concerns and to search new forms of interplay with the neighbors has
stipulated the rise of activization of process of regional cooperation.
       Regionalism in the present context means the organization of cooperative activity in a
natural geographic-historical region of states that find themselves on different sides of some
important political divides. As M. Emerson, Senior Research Fellow of Center for European Policy
Studies, stresses, this regionalism has both low politics and high politics. The low politics
concern the technicalities of, for example, common transport and environmental concerns, and
questions of border crossings and local government cooperation, of organizing youth and sport
activities, of combating cross-border crime, etc. The high politics of this regionalism have been
described as a unique blend of security and integration strategies, in which partial integration
across the natural region fosters a common sense of regional trust, values and identity, and so
allows soft-security models to displace hard-security concerns.
       The Black Sea region, from such point of view, has a sole opportunity to develop both
these politics. But during the whole its history the Black Sea region is characterized by two
opposite tendencies. It connected various peoples, cultures, states and continents, but at the same
time it separated them. The end of the Cold War increased the importance of regional security
issues (including traditional kinds) versus global ones. This is particularly true for the post-
communist countries and their immediate neighbours, given the often unsettled nature of
regional relations, internal weakness of the post-communist states, their vulnerability to outside
pressures, and their insufficient integration into (or even exclusion from) post-Cold War security
frameworks. As a result old regional disputes have been reinvigorated, and new regional security
agendas have emerged. Even though the region shares quite a few common problems –
underdevelopment being one of them – diversity and complexity are an integral part of the
regional setting. The Black Sea countries are going through different stages of state building and
transformation to democracy and market economy, while sharing a problematic history of
mutual coexistence. With the exception of Greece and partly Turkey, all other countries in the
region could be described as examples of different levels of weak states, lacking adequate socio-
political cohesion. They still have ineffective state institutions, which are either unwilling or
unable to impose the rule of law. Moreover, some states have incomplete control over the
population or their territory. Consequently, they are preoccupied with domestic sources of
potential conflict and are vulnerable to external threats.
        Externally, the region fits within the zone of interest and influence of major international
actors. Russia, being a constituent part of the region, tries to sustain and/or expand its influence
over some Black Sea countries. As a result, its regional partners often perceive Russian policy
with suspicion. The EU and the USA, whether through direct involvement or by sponsoring or
implementing different initiatives, ranging from political and military involvement to economic
projects, is another key actor in shaping the Black Sea Regional security environment. Located
along the existing or potential routes of energy transportation from Asia to Europe, the Black
Sea Region is becoming a focus of the grand “geopolitics of oil”.
        Democratic deficit was also pointed out as one of major challenges for the Black Sea
countries’ development and regional cooperative effort. Most of the Black Sea countries are
following authoritarian or semi-authoritarian tracks, and their democratization and transitional
policies are implemented fragmentarily.

        Although the Black Sea region is developed its potential but the lack of a cooperative
approach is still felt there. It is even questioned whether the Black Sea area is a region at all.
Some experts argued that it is not seen as such from the outside (by the international
community), nor from inside (by the Black Sea countries themselves). The Black Sea area is
randomly described as a cohesive and homogeneous region; it is an intellectual construct. Most
countries in the area do not consider a Black Sea regional identity as particularly important to
their international agendas, and each country looks beyond regional structures to affiliate itself
with the international community. Thus, according to this point of view, the Black Sea area has
neither internal nor external potential for region building, and is constituted exclusively on the
basis of geographic proximity. From another point of view, the processes taking place in the
Black Sea area can be considered a side effect of European integration, rather than region
building in itself.
       Fortunately, the majority of experts stressed that whether or not the BSR exists is not a
question. It is a region, and there is no need for essential regional characteristics to be named,
since political will of the governments to develop the region is in place, and creation of the
Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Organization in 1992 is indicative of the countries’
willingness to cooperate. From this perspective, the Black Sea area is certainly more of a region
today than it was years ago. It is obviously that regional intellectual, political, and governmental
elites and business communities create regions. As one of the early regional theories puts it,
regions lie where politicians want them to lie. Once the regional cooperation process is initiated,
it gains its own momentum. Consequently, regions either flourish or die. Therefore, the bottom-
up approach is absolutely essential for successful region building. There is no doubt that people
separated by the Black Sea are very different. Nevertheless, lately, due to the emergence of
BSEC, the region looks more promising, acquiring its distinctive nature by growing into a bridge
instead of a wall.
       Unfortunately, the Black Sea countries have yet to define the priority areas for practical
cooperation and those key segments that help the geographic area to become, to reach a true
region’s status. We can see it examining the politics of the states of the Black Sea area, when in
spite of possibility to form the proper regional dominants of Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Georgia,
Turkey or Bulgaria general interests it is not succeeded until now. Another important element for
each Black Sea country and the region as a whole is that emergence of a dynamic core is critical
for successful region building. This core is defined in both geopolitical and functional terms, but
also in terms of intellectual and political leadership. As the experience shows, such a core should
consist of two or more states taking the lead in region building. Four candidates can be named as
possibilities to constitute the dynamic core for the Black Sea region: Greece, Romania, Russia,
Turkey and Ukraine. The other states are not less important. On the contrary, they play a very
important role by determining the center of gravity in formation of the Black Sea regional
       So long as the Black Sea countries pursue their political, economic and energy interests
being in unique geographical space each of them see in other a competitor at least. In such
conditions it is difficult to image, that here will be easy to develop regional cooperation actively.
And it is not surprising that in search of ways to solve their own problems, more and more
countries of this region are turned by the looks towards integrated Europe, which in their eyes is
stable and economic developed.
        The EU and Black Sea region interaction
        The EU has invested heavily in regionalism process in the Baltic and Mediterranean
Seas, with the Northern Dimension initiative and the Barcelona Process. Lip service is given to
regionalism in the EU New Neighbourhood Policy, but nonetheless the accent there is made on
bilateralism. The Black Sea has so far been the only natural region of the EU periphery that has
been ignored. This is starting to change now, with the imminence of Bulgarian and Romanian
accession. The last Greek presidency of the BSEC organization has wanted to push for a Black
Sea Dimension initiative, but this does not seem to have taken off. However an additional
impetus seems to emerge in Romania, which begins to contemplate a Black Sea role that draws
inspiration from Finland’s role in the Northern Dimension, and Bulgaria would surely want to
join in this.
        The strategic importance of contacts with the EU for BSEC countries means that a
regional approach by the EU can bring to the development of a secure and prosperous Black Sea
area by promoting coherent actions. To this end, priority must be given to the development of
balanced, mutually beneficial and result-oriented cooperation between the BSEC and the EU
based on complementarity, partnership and coordination, building on the already existing
synergies. Under the Tbilisi Ministerial resolution of 1 May 1999 BSEC invited the EU to
become an observer, which it declined, although it may now be persuaded to take a more
positive view. More recently, however, Russia has been saying to BSEC high officials that active
EU involvement would not be welcome. BSEC has also recently declined the offer by the US to
become an observer of BSEC, which does not yet have a reply.
        Today, as the dynamics of the new European political environment open up the potential
for effective partnerships, the BSEC Member States attach particular importance to building up a
constructive relationship with the EU. The Declaration of the Ministers of foreign affairs of the
BSEC on “The Enhancement of Cooperation with the European Union”, which took place in
Chisinau on 28 October 2005, emphasized in this respect, that “strengthening of the relations
with the EU, in particular in the economic field, would create an additional impetus for the
BSEC community towards increased cooperation in the region and would contribute to the close
interaction with other regional organizations”.
        Indeed, the EU welcomed the signing of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Charter,
which formally established the BSEC as a regional economic organization. A declaration issued
by the United Kingdom Presidency of the EU on the occasion of a BSEC Yalta Summit reads:
"The EU looks forward to building on its existing cooperation with the BSEC and stands ready,
where appropriate, to provide practical support through the relevant Community programs."
However, these declarations have not satisfied the Black Sea region, and many participants
supported the establishment of a special EU-Black Sea dialogue. As I’ve said above, the
European Commission was invited to obtain observer status in BSEC, however this invitation
has not yet been granted due attention.
       But now we can see that the enlarged European Union developed next directions of
cooperation with the countries of the Black Sea region: at first, policy of inclusion of the
countries of South-East Europe; secondly, Turkish question; thirdly, Neighbourhood Policy for
East and South neighbours. A separate direction of cooperation is those spheres, where interests
of European Union and Russia intersect. However, there is a part of problem of regional
relationship’s weakness in the presence of such separated strategies. And the main obstacle for
fruitful regional cooperation is the fact that the bilateral relations, which are supported by the
entire countries of region, prevail in each of these directions.

       In a context „the EU – a state” influence of process of European integration on the
countries of Black Sea basin can be examined through activity of the euroregions, international
transporting corridors (ITC), and security questions. Sure, valuation of this influencing cannot be
monosemantic, as a process carries in itself both positive and negative moments.
       According to the euroregions it should be noted that this direction is characteristic one
only for the countries of Central, East (including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus) and South-East
Europe till now. It is possible to see the positive results of this regional cooperation’s tendency
and in Georgia. Creation of transborder associations between these countries began at the
beginning of 1990s and successfully develops thanks to purposeful efforts of the European
Union and its structures. Countries passed the heavy way of overcoming of many contradictions
of legislation, economic, social and etc politics in order that these associations worked for the
benefit of the state and in complete accordance with positions and rules of the EU. At the same
time different programs of the EU, which are directed on development of regional and
transborder interaction, have and a number of negative moments that mostly divide countries and
lower the opportunities of regional cooperation.
       The second point is forming of international transport corridors in a Black Sea region. In
order to describe a situation round ITC most evidently, it is worth to touch the Ukrainian aspect
of this question. As known, four European, or so called Cyprus corridors pass through territory
of Ukraine: № 3 (Berlin - Wroclaw - Lviv - Kyiv), № 5 (Trieste – Lublyana - Budapest - Lviv),
№ 7 “Danube water-way”, № 9 (Helsinki - Saint Petersburg - Minsk/Moscow - Kyiv -
Chisinau/Odessa – Dimitrovgrad – Alexandropolis – Istanbul). Conception of creation and
functioning of the national network of ITC in Ukraine is foreseen by work of corridor „Europe -
Asia” as continuation of corridors №№ 3 and 5 (Frankfurt - Cracow - Lviv - Dnepropetrovsk –
Alma-Ata). The Cabinet of ministers of Ukraine already examined a project about creation of
transport communication „Europe - Ukraine - Asia”. However, real changes in working of this
project did not happen. As a result there was the real threat to intercept the initiative on
formation of transport corridor by other countries, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia,
Russia, and Romania. Armenia put up a question about the reconstruction of the way Gyumri -
Batumi, Azerbaijan – about the reconstruction of Baku sea port, Georgia considers as
perspective the organization of ferry crossing from Poti to Bulgaria and Romania and
reconstruction of Poti port [2]. Russia, actively using the territorial advantages and presence of
ports on the Baltic Sea, Trans-Siberian highway, aims to convince potential cargo transporters in
the optimum of its transporting network. To that end Moscow carries out building of new and
modernization of old ports and roads and pursues an active PR policy. Romania also zealously
lobbies and moves forward the transporting-transit possibilities of transportation of loads in
direction West - East and vice versa. And if to take into consideration the presence of the most
powerful sea port Konstanţa on its territory, which provides communication with countries not
only the Caucasian region but also with the countries of Asia, its prospects seem the more real.
Thus, it is impossible to eliminate the variants of creation of transport corridor „Europe -
Caucasus - Asia” without participation of Ukrainian transporting-communications possibilities
that means without taking into account economic and political interests of our state.
       According to these facts, we can see that the process of European integration in this
sphere cannot be instrument or additional impetus for regional cooperation in the frame of BSEC
but sharply aggravate tension in the BS region.
       From another, regional point of view, most participants of the BSEC stress that the
development of energy transportation is the key security issue in the region. The question,
however, is whether the development of new routes will contribute to the stability and security
of the region or, on the contrary, increase the potential for conflict. The region is open to serious
involvement by powerful outside players, including both governments and private corporations,
whose interests and approaches are radically different. In order for the development of transport
routes to be stabilizing rather than destabilizing, therefore, it will be necessary to find ways to
reconcile these diverse interests.
       The potential value of utilizing energy transport explicitly as a means of enhancing
regional security and the elaboration of new common strategy on energy-related issues has very
concrete meaning for the Black Sea region. BSEC is the only organization, which could facilitate
and advance such cooperation. Unfortunately, there is no clear vision on how to move the region
towards competitive cooperation or cooperative competition. It is a result of an understanding
that this is very much needed for further development of the region. There is only one way to
succeed in this direction – a multiple pipeline system, which could maximize benefits for all
countries. In order to achieve this goal, however, all countries will have to coordinate their
production, export and transit policies.
       However, there are two major obstacles to such cooperation. First of all, there is still a
tendency to present national perspectives (Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, etc.). It is
therefore of vital importance to raise awareness of the benefits of cooperative approaches.
Second is the lack of leadership on energy cooperation. Although many participants supported a
role for BSEC, I’m afraid, BSEC has avoided serious discussion of energy transport issues in
recent years. The creation of a new regional forum on energy problems was suggested as a
worthwhile exercise in order to foster greater understanding of the potential resources, the
potential markets, and the interests of all the countries of the region.

       Security cooperation
       According to the security issues, it is worth to be mentioned that on top of all security
challenges, the Black Sea region is not viewed as a single security complex. From the security
perspective, some of the sub-regions within the Black Sea region have attracted much
international concern and attention - the Balkans (which includes BSEC members Greece,
Bulgaria, Romania and Albania) on the one hand, and the Caucasus on the other. The Black Sea
countries belong to or try to join different security arrangements – the region includes members
of NATO and Tashkent Collective Security Agreement, GUAM participants, and parties to the
Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe. All these arrangements are intended to strengthen
individual countries’ security, but it is not clear whether this diversity helps regional stability and
security. In this context, the issue has been raised of whether the Black Sea Region should have
its own regional security arrangement. Of course, these arrangements are already in place: OSCE
provides for political dialogue, while Ukraine’s initiative to enlarge the scope of regional
Confidence and Security Building Measures to naval area and Turkish initiative on a Special
Task Force on Military and Naval Cooperation (BLACKSEAFOR) help strengthen military and
naval confidence as well as regional security. It can be argued, however, that ultimate security
in the region could be achieved only via more active presence of both NATO and the EU.
Another side of this process is that the region might get even more divided as a result of EU and
NATO enlargement.
       There is no doubt that today in the Black Sea region the European Union and NATO
are the key providers of stability and security. And the politicians both of Black Sea countries,
and of Brussels headquarters realize well that expansion of these organizations is to do substantial
influence on wide-formatted transformation of the Black Sea region.
       The states of the Black Sea, from their side, already showed the political desire and
examples of development and progress of different methods of collaboration between itself,
among such initiatives is a Dialogue on security, multilateral agreements (as, Organization
of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, BLACKSEAFOR and others like that) bilateral, and
Black Sea measures on strengthening of security and confidence. All these structures are able to
carry out a stabilizing role in a region on condition of effective and valuable participation of all
countries-members in regional initiatives and processes, and also on condition of their
subsequent including in the European system of security and cooperation.           Although these
mechanisms only develop today, they however are the effective mean of strengthening of
cooperation within the limits of subregion and its including in the network of the large
European regions.
       Maybe the line of least resistance would call for Bulgaria and Romania – as new member
states – to propose to the EU to co-sponsor a fresh initiative that might be called the Black Sea
Forum. Bulgaria and Romania would first form a determined alliance to be the initiators. As part
of the initiating lobby, they might seek to co-opt Greece as the only pre-existing EU member
state in BSEC, and Turkey as a founding state of BSEC and an EU candidate state. They would
also seek to get the EU to join in the initiative. The first act would be a conference of a Black
Sea Forum, to which the Bulgaria and Romania with the EU would invite all BSEC member
states, the BSEC secretary general and the United States. If the EU would make an up-front offer
of financial resources from the New Neighbourhood Financial Instrument, which is currently
being finalised in Brussels, and which is being designed explicitly to solve the procedural-
bureaucratic problems of supporting projects that cut across regions with states falling into
different political categories for the EU (member states, accession candidates, neighbours, etc.).
Also the EU would offer a Forum in which BSEC and its member states could submit ideas and
projects of regional interest that could make use of extra resources from the EU or US. Second,
the European Commission could draw up a Black Sea Action Plan in the framework of its
Neighbourhood Policy. Technical work on various sectors of policy or projects should be
followed up in groups of the most interested parties or other network arrangements, what would
help to mark up and work in details different common interests.
       It should also be pointed out that although the initial decision to have BSEC focus only
on economic issues may have been correct at the time, the current situation makes it impossible
to separate economic and security matters. In this respect it would be very helpful for BSEC to
intensify its relations with the EU. However, it was stressed above that the EU has to date shown
little interest in BSEC and that changing this attitude will require a concerted effort by the
countries in the region. At the same time, it would be useful to press the EU bureaucracy and
European Commission to start thinking of the Black Sea area as a region and to identify more
precisely European interests in it. At the same time the BSEC countries should try to make
BSEC one of cooperative initiatives’ platform or an umbrella above other initiatives in the
region this organization is only regional initiative that possesses a real potential. But, the very
number of initiatives makes it impossible for the relevant policy-makers even to participate in all
the respective meetings. As a result only junior level officials, with no decision-making
authority, making such meetings even more bureaucratic and less productive, attend the
       The OSCE and NATO are also among important security communities that can benefit
from enhanced security in the region. Perhaps, BSEC could invite the OSCE to help establish
democratic control and oversight of military, paramilitary and police forces in the region (as part
of a wider program of democratic institution building). The legal framework for such an
initiative is already in place since all BSEC member-states are also members of the OSCE.
Western support for conflict management and resolution in the region is also needed, therefore.
Taking into consideration that there is a doubt NATO active role could strength the security in
the region. From another side, BSEC may use NATO outreach and training programs to that end.
So, although NATO military operations in the region would be very dangerous, NATO’s
cooperation schemes through the Partnership for Peace could be of substantial support to the
region. It should be noted that so far OSCE engagement in the Black Sea Region has been of
segmented nature, focusing on regionally turbulent spots, rather than on the region as such.
Security issues in individual Black Sea countries, but not the whole region, have very much been
in the foreground of OSCE concerns and activities over the past years.
       A final political question is whether Russia would join in such an initiative. According to
past experience, Russia will initially express its skepticism or even hostility.

       The BSEC and regional cooperation
       In this context it is rather useful to rise up the question of regional cooperation. I suggest
that existing international and regional efforts in the region are inadequate and that it is
imperative to launch new regional initiatives or to introduce new mechanisms and ideas to
existing ones. But majority of cooperative initiatives in the region are of an exclusive nature -
they bring together some states and leave others out. There has also been a dearth of consistent
and effective leadership. BSEC is a case in point. Although launched at the initiative of the
Turkish government, Turkey gradually lost interest in the organization, and no other country has
stepped into this leadership role. Unlike the EU, where France and Germany jointly drove the
integration process, BSEC is without leadership, and thus, without a motor for progress.
       At the same time, from my point of view, the creating new initiatives will not help, and
that what is needed is efforts to make BSEC more effective. Today there is a plethora of
international cooperative initiatives in the region: BSEC, CIS, GUUAM, ECO, OSCE, Caspian
Economic Cooperation, EU programs of INOGATE AND TRACECA, as well as NATO
Partnership for Peace and EAPC, and others.

       Concluding this issue, it should be mentioned that reasons of enough weak cooperation of
countries of BSR and insignificant influence of European integration process on regional
cooperation lie in nature of all participants’ activity. In order a situation has been changed, it is
necessary to join efforts of both countries of the Black sea area and BSEC and European and
Euroatlantic organizations. But first of all the international players (the EU, NATO, the US)
should to think/realize the Black Sea area as a region and to identify more precisely their
interests in it and to agree that it should coincide with regional interests of all Black Sea
countries. In this case the several key elements of international and regional approaches should
be continuously developed, supported and enhanced in the region. These include: encouraging
stability and security in the region; promoting democracy; economic reform and development,
with specific emphasis on infrastructure development; and creating legal frameworks for the
respect of human rights and minority rights in the region. At the same time, it must be stressed
that the countries of the region must themselves be more pragmatic and present their own long-
term strategy and vision for development.

Published in: Актуальні проблеми міжнародних відносин: Зб. наук. праць. – Вип.. 61, ч. І.
– К.: Київський національний університет ім. Тараса Шевченка, Інститут міжнародних
відносин, 2006. – с. 75-80 (англ. мовою).

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