1 Iryna Maksymenko THE ROLE OF BSEC IN THE REGIONAL COOPERATION 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 2 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. 3 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 cooperation. 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. 4 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 5 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 – 6 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 . 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 7 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. 8 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 9 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 meetings. 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. 10 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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