Cooperation within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
On 25 June 1992 the Heads of State and Government of eleven countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine signed in Istanbul the Summit Declaration and the Bosphorus Statement that defined the scope of the Organization.
The BSEC’s Charter was signed on 5 June 1998 during the Yalta summit of the Heads of State and Government, and entered into force on 1 May 1999. Thereby BSEC acquired international legal identity and was transformed into a full-fledged regional economic organization: Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. With the accession of Serbia and Montenegro in April 2004, the Organization’s Member States increased to twelve.
According to the BSEC’s Charter and the Istanbul Summit Declaration the main priority of the Organization is creating a unique and promising model of multilateral political and economic cooperation aimed at fostering interaction and harmony among the Member States, as well as ensuring peace, stability and prosperity encouraging friendly and good-neighbourly relations in the Black Sea region.
The main BSEC statutory documents defined the priorities of sectoral cooperation in different fields directed at the achievement of concrete results. In the area of sectoral cooperation BSEC concentrates its efforts on the activities in following spheres: trade and economic development; banking and finance; communications; energy; transport; agriculture and agro-industry; health care and pharmaceutics; environmental protection; tourism; science and technology; exchange of statistical data and economic information; collaboration between customs and other border authorities; human contacts; combating organized crime, illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons and radioactive materials, all acts of terrorism and illegal migration, or in any other related area.
The Chairmanship in BSEC is held by one of the Member States, as a rule, for half year term, based on the principle of rotation in accordance with the names of the Member States in the order of Latin alphabet. The Chairman-in-office is the Minister of Foreign Affairs who coordinates all activities carried out within the framework of the BSEC and ensures the proper conduct of the BSEC proceedings as well as the implementation of the Resolutions and Decisions adopted. Should the Chairmanship be waived by a Member State, it will be assumed by the next Member State in line.
The principal regular decision making organ of the BSEC is the Council, that in the framework of the BSEC objectives decides on all issues pertaining to the functioning of the BSEC; considers all matters submitted by the Subsidiary Organs and to take accordingly appropriate decisions; takes the decisions on membership and observer status; adopts and modify the Rules of Procedure; establishes Subsidiary Organs within the BSEC, assigns tasks to them, defines, modifies or terminates their mandates ect.
The Committee of Senior Officials, representing the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States and acting on their behalf, is entrusted with the following competencies: reviews activities of the Subsidiary Organs, evaluates the implementation of decisions and recommendations of the Council and elaborates recommendations and proposals to be presented to the Council; considers issues related to coordination and cooperation with BSEC related bodies, informs the Council about these issues and works out, if necessary, pertinent recommendations and proposals; studies organizational aspects of the BSEC activities, participates in the elaboration of preliminary calendar of events, takes decisions on relevant matters except the issues under the competence of the Council and the Chairman-in-office; submits to the Council for approval the annual budget of the BSEC; nominates experts to a specialized sub-group for carrying out the budget auditing.
The BSEC Subsidiary Organs are the Working groups that meet regularly to define and discuss the concrete directions of the sectoral cooperation.
The Secretarial services of the BSEC are carried out by the Permanent International Secretariat that is located in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey. The Secretariat is functioning under the authority of the Chairman-in-office of the BSEC, which is executed by the Secretary General.
Within the BSEC’s system works the “Troika System” that convenes at the appropriate level in order to exchange views on current and prospective activities of the BSEC and on its relations with other international organizations and institutions upon request of the Chairman-in-office.
A number of documents on regional cooperation are signed within the Organization: Agreement among the Governments of the BSEC Participating States on collaboration in emergency assistance and emergency response to natural and man-made disasters; Agreement on cooperation in combating crime, in particular in its organized forms; Memorandum of understanding on facilitation of road transport of goods in the BSEC region; Memorandum of Understanding on facilitation of road transport of goods in the BSEC Region; Agreement on simplification of visa procedures for the businesspeople; Agreement on simplification of visa procedures for professional lorry drivers.
The organization established cooperation with other international and regional organizations and initiatives. Thus, on October 1999 the Observer status in the UN General Assembly was granted to BSEC.
Evidence of interest in the BSEC is the number of countries and institutions cooperating with the Organization within the framework of the respective agreements or have Observer status. Among them - the Energy Charter Secretariat, the European Commission, the Commission for the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, and countries such as the United States, Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Belarus, Egypt, Israel, Tunisia and other . A number of international non-governmental organizations and countries have status in the BSEC sectoral dialogue partner.
The latest Chairmanship of Ukraine in the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation lasted from 1 January till 30 June 2013.
The main priorities of the Ukrainian Chairmanship were: promotion of development of multilateral economic cooperation in the BSEC Region; practical implementation of the previously adopted decisions and concluded agreements; enforcement of the BSEC project oriented approach through implementation of the projects and programs of regional dimension (e.g. Development of the Black Sea Ring Highway and Motorways of the Sea); preparation of multilateral document on regional multimodal transport; direction of BSEC’s efforts at the disclosure and elimination of the barriers in mutual trade, harmonization of the customs and trade regimes on the basis of the WTO; strengthening of the Organization’s financial capability; promotion of the BSEC activities in the sphere of environmental protection, touristic sphere etc.
Twenty meetings of the Stearing Committees, Working groups (special expert groups) were held during the Ukrainian Chairmanship, as well as three Ministerial meetings.
On 1 July 2015 started the Chairmanship of Romania that set up the following priorities: deepening cooperation between BSEC and EU, further promotion of the BSEC project oriented approach, reforming and higher efficiency of the BSEC activities.
Priorities of BSEC Chairmanship-in-Office of Ukraine (1 July – 31 December 2017)
The Ukrainian Chairmanship in the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is held from 1 July to 31 December 2017.
Being guided by the BSEC Charter, the Istanbul Summit Declaration on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the BSEC Economic Agenda “Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership”, Ukraine will direct its efforts towards strengthening the Organization and receiving tangible results for the achievement of its statutory goals.
Ukraine considers that the implementation of the decisions of the 25th Anniversary Summit will restore the dynamics of the BSEC development and the important role of the Organization in the Region.
Ukraine will lead the Organization under the motto «Towards peace, stability and prosperity», which derives directly from the BSEC statutory objectives.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship will pay particular attention to economic cooperation within the framework of the BSEC in time of security crisis in the Region.
Ukraine proposes to discuss this issue in a broader context at the informal CMFA Meeting in September on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship will further promote the multilateral project-oriented approach in the BSEC activity.
Taking into account the current situation in the Region, Ukraine intends to reach the conditions under which the further implementation of regional projects on the development of the Black Sea Ring Highway and the Motorways of the Sea, cooperation on intermodal transportation, cultural heritage protection, tourism, environmental protection, trade policy and others could be possible.
The BSEC subsidiary bodies should restore the practice of elaboration of project proposals.
In the area of sectoral cooperation, Ukraine will concentrate its efforts on:
- development of multilateral economic cooperation in the BSEC Region and practical implementation of the previously adopted decisions and concluded agreements;
- implementation of the Memoranda of Understanding on the Facilitation of Road Transport of Goods, Development of the Black Sea Ring Highway and Motorways of the Sea; promotion of intermodal transportation.
- further consideration of the drafts Memoranda of Understanding on the protection of cultural heritage, cooperation in combating illicit trafficking of cultural property belonging to the archaeological, historical, ethnographical and paleontological heritage and arts among the BSEC Member States;
- promotion of the BSEC activities in the tourism sector and elaboration the project on the development of cruise tourism in the BSEC region;
- promotion of environmental initiatives and development of regional policies for the protection of the marine environment.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship is aware of the importance of multilateral resource support for the project approach and will focus its efforts on strengthening the Organization's multilateral financial capabilities using the BSEC program-oriented budget, the opportunities of the BSTDB, PDF and the Project Management Unit.
Taking into account the lack of financial resources of the Project Development Fund and problems with its financing, Ukraine suggests to consider along with the established practice of voluntary contributions by the Member States the alternative sources of replenishment, particularly related to the BSEC budgetary mechanisms.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship considers the BSEC partners as an important reserve to strengthen economic cooperation.
Special attention will be drawn to cooperation with the UN specialized agencies in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The interactive potential with the EU, defined, in particular, at the CMFA Meeting on a BSEC-EU enhanced relationship held in Kyiv in 2008 in the framework of the Black Sea Synergy, still remains untapped.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship will pay a special attention to contacts with the EU at both, the expert and political levels, in accordance with the principles of complementarity in implementing pragmatic objectives.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship attaches importance of improving the mechanisms and instruments of cooperation.
Taking into account the constructive proposals on amending the legal framework of cooperation elaborated by the BSEC PERMIS, Ukraine will endeavor to complete this work by the end of 2017 within the framework of the Working Group on Organizational Issues.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship regards entrepreneurship dimension as vital for development of BSEC.
Paying tribute to the Turkish Chairmanship for resuming the activity of the BSEC Business Council and taking over the Chairmanship in this institution, the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with business partners of the Member States, will concentrate its efforts at strengthening the BSEC's entrepreneurship dimension and avoiding past mistakes that hinder business cooperation within the Organization.
The Ukrainian Chairmanship believes that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation will continue to provide an example of compliance with the norms and principles of international law for the development of regional cooperation.
Among the high-level events of the Ukrainian Chairmanship-in-Office:
Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (December, Ukraine): at the regular Meeting – conclusion of the Chairmanship, adoption of decisions that will define the main BSEC achievements for the semi-annual period and outline prospects for the future.
Informal Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (September, New York): on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
Meeting of Ministers of Transport (October, Ukraine): discussion on realization of projects in the Black Sea region.
DECLARATION OF THE 25th ANNIVERSARY SUMMIT OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION (Istanbul, 22 May 2017)
We, the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), met in Istanbul on 22 May 2017 to mark the 25th Anniversary of BSEC,
Reaffirming our adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Paris Charter for a New Europe, as well as the generally recognized principles and rules of international law,
Confirming our commitment to the principles and objectives of BSEC, as well as to the previous Summit Declarations,
Underlining our desire to turn the Black Sea region into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity,
Acknowledging that, during the past 25 years BSEC has proven itself as a mature, inclusive and institutionalized organization which contributes to the promotion of regional cooperation and economic development,
Being aware of the fact that, BSEC needs to be more responsive to the economic challenges of the evolving regional and international environment of today’s globalized world,
Expressing our determination to increase BSEC’s importance on the regional and global scale for economic cooperation,
Do hereby declare as follows:
1. We note that the 25th Anniversary Summit of BSEC serves as a milestone of our firm common desire to reinvigorate the quarter-century of cooperation among the BSEC Member States and provides the opportunity to exchange views at the highest level on further developing our cooperation to the benefit and prosperity of our peoples over the next decades.
2. We underscore that, during the 25 years of its existence BSEC has contributed to developing economic relations among its Member States with the aim to enhance peace, stability, dialogue and mutual understanding in the Black Sea region.
3. We reaffirm our resolve to act in a spirit of friendship and good neighborliness and enhance mutual respect and confidence, dialogue and cooperation among the Member States.
4. We share the common view that, in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of BSEC and to achieve a stronger future for the Organization, the Member States should continue and finalize in the nearest future the reform process on the basis of consensus and strive for an inclusive, balanced and professional representation in the BSEC PERMIS.
5. We stress that the economic cooperation among the BSEC Member States shall be conducted in accordance with international law.
6. We appreciate that the BSEC Economic Agenda Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership which was endorsed at the 20th Anniversary Summit of BSEC in 2012, has constituted a concrete framework for enhancing our cooperation.
7. We support greater involvement of the private sector in BSEC cooperation and enhanced synergy between the public and the private sectors to improve the business environment in the region for our entrepreneurs. Towards this goal, we welcome the efforts for revitalizing the BSEC Business Council which is the competent Related Body of our Organization.
8. At the same time, we appreciate the valuable roles and contributions of the other BSEC Related Bodies, namely the Parliamentary Assembly of BSEC (PABSEC), the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) as well as the International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) in promoting regional cooperation and encourage them to increase mutual coordination and complementarity for the development of the region.
9. We share a common vision to develop our cooperation with a more project and result-oriented approach in the fields of agriculture and agro-industry, banking and finance, combating organized crime, customs matters, education, emergency assistance, energy, environmental protection, healthcare and pharmaceutics, information and communication technologies, institutional renewal and good governance, science and technology, SMEs, tourism, culture, trade and economic development and transport.
10. In this regard, we emphasize the importance of streamlining the activities of the BSEC Working Groups which are the driving forces of our Organization, including by enhancing the participation of experts.
11. Noting that shipping is indispensable for trade, economic cooperation and tourism in the Black Sea region, we encourage efforts to provide additional, safe and secure maritime transport options to the existing and future flows between the BSEC Member States, Europe and Asia, and to facilitate participation of national economies of BSEC Member States in the global economy.
We attach high importance to the safety and security of navigation in the Black Sea region in accordance with relevant international rules and regulations.
12. We believe that, effective implementation of concrete joint transport infrastructure projects such as the Black Sea Ring Highway and the Motorways of the Sea in the BSEC Region, will contribute to increasing intra-BSEC trade, tourism and transport investments, as well as to the success of BSEC.
13. We recognize that well-developed information and communications network infrastructures, such as the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway, act as one of the main technological enablers of digital opportunities.
14. We welcome the steps aimed at strengthening the project-oriented dimension of BSEC and we recognize the need to further develop BSEC project capacity through Project Development Fund, Project Management Unit and Project Promotion Facility.
15. We note that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, including the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a universal and ambitious framework for global development efforts.
We recall that the interest of BSEC in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has already been recognized in the UN General Assembly Resolution No: 71/18, dated 21 November 2016, entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization”.
Since this issue will be an important agenda item during the next decade, we share a common goal to make BSEC an important partner in achieving the SDGs at the regional scale.
16. We are committed to promoting the engagement in the economy of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), family farmers, women, youth, persons with disabilities, refugees and internally displaced persons in order to contribute to unleashing the untapped potential in the region which is vital for sustainable economic development in all BSEC Member States.
17. We appreciate the important role of young entrepreneurs as one of the main drivers of creativity and innovation in our economies.
18. We welcome the Joint Declarations adopted at the Fourth Meeting of the Ministers in charge of Economy of the BSEC Member States, held on 11 May 2017 and at the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of the BSEC Member States, held on 17 May 2017, in Istanbul.
19. We note that the magnitude of the current migration and refugee crisis as defined by UN has been unprecedented since the Second World War. We are committed to display a shared sense of solidarity and cooperation in addressing the needs and problems of internally displaced persons, migrants and refugees in the BSEC region and beyond. We stress the urgent need to address the root causes of these large flows of people.
20. We stand against all forms and manifestations of terrorism whatever its source, motivation or purpose. We will continue to do our part in the international solidarity and fight against terrorism.
21. We reiterate our willingness to develop and further enhance fruitful cooperation with other international and regional organizations, institutions and initiatives on the basis of mutual interest and complementarity.
22. We attach importance to enhancing BSEC-EU interaction and reaffirm our commitment to foster a pragmatic, project-oriented and mutually beneficial cooperation.
23. We underline the valuable contributions of the BSEC Observers and Sectoral Dialogue Partners to the activities of BSEC and reaffirm our willingness to continue exploring new concrete areas of collaboration with them.
24. Noting that the relocation of the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat to its new premises coincides with the 25th Anniversary of BSEC, we express our gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Turkey for providing the BSEC Secretariat with a new modern working environment, in its capacity as the Host Country of the BSEC Headquarters.
25. We express our appreciation to the Government and the people of the Republic of Turkey for the warm hospitality and successful organization of the 25th Anniversary Summit of BSEC in Istanbul, the birthplace of our Organization.