28th Meeting Of The BSEC Council Of Ministers Of Foreign Affairs - Odessa, 21 June 2013

The 28th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) will be held on 21 June 2013, in Odessa.

H.E. Mr. Leonid KOZHARA, BSEC Chairman-in-Office and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, will chair the meeting. The representatives of the BSEC Member States (1), as well as Related Bodies (2), BSEC Observers (3), Sectoral Dialogue Partners 4 will participate in the meeting.

In the working session of the meeting, the Ministers will exchange views on issues regarding the region and the Organization.

Some of the items on the agenda of the upcoming meeting in Odessa are related to the appointment of Country - Coordinators for some of the BSEC Working Groups and the assessment of the activities of the Permanent International Secretariat as well as the Related Bodies of BSEC.

The BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs is also expected to consider the applications for the granting and renewal of Observer and Sectoral Dialogue Partnership status of various countries and organizations.

One of the main documents which is envisaged to be approved in Odessa is the draft Memorandum of Understanding between BSEC and the International Union of Railways. The said document is expected to further increase BSEC’s institutional capacity in the field of transport.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a ceremony will take place whereby Ukraine will hand over the Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC to the Republic of Armenia. Armenia will officially assume the Chairmanship as of 1 July 2013, for a period of six months until 31 December 2013.

Various sectoral priorities were identified by Ukraine for its Chairmanship covering the term of 1 January - 30 June 2013, which included intra - regional trade, transport, protection of the environment and humanitarian and cultural cooperation.

Within this framework, the Chairmanship implemented a calendar of events, which focused on these as well as some other key areas of activity of the Organization.

Among the high level events in the calendar, the Meeting of the BSEC Ministers in charge of Economy was held in Yalta, Ukraine, on 23 May 2013, while the Meeting of the BSEC Ministers of Transport was held in Odessa, Ukraine, on 29 May 2013.

Both event s were concluded with the adoption of joint declarations.

Background Information: BSEC was launched as a regionally owned initiative, with Turkey’s lead, on 25 June 1992 at the Istanbul Summit, at a time when regional cooperation was most needed in the transformation process that the countries of the region were undergoing. The idea that stronger economic cooperation among the Black Sea countries would enhance peace, stability and prosperity in the region was the underlying philosophy behind BSEC. With the entry into force of its Charter in 1999, BSEC was officially transformed from an initiative into a regional cooperation organization.

Today, BSEC serves as a forum for cooperation in a wide range of areas and a platform for political dialogue for its 12 Member States. The BSEC countries encompass an area of approximately 20 million square kilometers with 330 million people.

Agriculture and agro - industry, banking and finance, combating organized crime, culture, customs matters, education, emergency assistance, energy, environmental protection, exchange of statistical data and information, healthcare and pharmaceutics, information and communication technologies, institutional renewal and good governance, science and technology, SMEs, tourism, trade and economic development and transport are among the fields of cooperation within the framework of the Organization.

Last year, BSEC commemorated its 20th anniversary with a Summit hosted by the Republic of Turkey in Istanbul, on 26 June 2012, at the level of Heads of State and Government. One of the main outcome documents of the Summit was the Istanbul Summit Declaration. With this Declaration, the Member States renewed their commitment to the BSEC process at the highest level. The Summit also endorsed a new Economic Agenda for the region. The Economic Agenda Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership has been introduced to face the new challenges and opportunities in the global and local environment. This comprehensive regional strategy sets goals in 17 priority areas of action. It also provides recommendations to further strengthen the Organization.

(1) The 12 BSEC Member States are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

(2) The Parliamentary Assembly of the BSEC (PABSEC), the BSEC Business Council (BSEC BC), the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) and the International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) are the four Related Bodies of BSEC.

(3) Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Poland, Slovak Republic, Tunisia, USA, the Commission of the European Union, Black Sea Commission, Energy Charter Secretariat and International Black Sea Club have Observer status in BSEC.

(4) Hungary, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Montenegro, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, Black Sea International Ship-owners Association (BINSA), Black and Azov Seas Ports Association (BASPA), Union of Road Transport Association in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Region (BSEC - URTA), Black Sea Region Association of Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers (BRASS), Black Sea University Network (BSUN), Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR), Danube Commission and International Network for SMEs (INSME) have Sectoral Dialogue Partnership status in BSEC.