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20TH ANNIVERSARY OF BSEC > BSEC working for stability, prosperity

ABDULLAH GÜL

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The BSEC has become a mature international organization and plays a unique role in disseminating the message of peace and stability, Turkish President Abdullah Gül says. AA photo

The BSEC has become a mature international organization and plays a unique role in disseminating the message of peace and stability, Turkish President Abdullah Gül says. AA photo

We are pleased to host the 20th Anniversary Summit meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on June 26, 2012 in Istanbul. We feel the same inspiration and excitement that led us to initiate the BSEC with the Istanbul Declaration two decades ago, on June 25, 1992. We are proud to see that the BSEC has grown to become the most inclusive and comprehensive organization in the Black Sea region.

Over the two decades since its inception, the BSEC has gained a wealth of experience that it has been able to channel towards enhanced multilateral cooperation in a time of rapidly developing regional dynamics. Through its unique history and development, the BSEC became a visionary model and a beacon for regional cooperation. The BSEC emerged in the early 1990s during a formative period when several countries of the Black Sea region were undergoing a historical transition process.

From the times of the ancient Silk Road of centuries past to the contemporary age of modern oil and gas pipelines, the Black Sea region has maintained its role as a crucial bridge for both traditional and modern routes of commerce. The region, at the very heart of Eurasia, enjoys vast natural and human resources. This is why, we as Heads of State and Government, have the duty to lead our countries to fulfill the great potential of the Black Sea as a model region of peace, stability and prosperity.

Over the years the BSEC family has grown to include parliamentary, business, academic and non-governmental bodies. The parliamentary dimension marked the first expansion with the establishment of the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly (PABSEC) in 1993. Following this, in 1997, BSEC member states established the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank as the financing mechanism for regional economic projects. The BSEC Business Council was another body established to assist regional economic development by fostering direct contact among the business networks of member states.

Two decades after its establishment, we are utilizing several BSEC mechanisms for enhancing regional peace, stability and prosperity in the wider Black Sea region. This is being accomplished first and foremost through the implementation of joint projects that produce win-win results for the member States. The BSEC, which has become a mature international organization, plays a unique role in disseminating the message of peace and stability through concrete projects. Moreover, it promotes intercultural dialogue and enables regional networking and interaction.

The BSEC undertakes projects intended to build capacity in strategic policy areas such as energy, transport, environmental protection, trade and investment, sustainable development, and science and technology. These projects create close and lasting ties among the member states towards achieving collective prosperity. The two flagship projects of the BSEC are the Black Sea Ring Highway Project and the Motorways of the Sea. These projects are key to enhancing trade ties between 340 million people across 20 million square kilometers. However, we need to increase the number of similar projects that produce concrete benefits for the region. Turkey is ready to provide support toward this end.

We believe it is important for the BSEC to disseminate its values and to cooperate with international organizations like the United Nations, the EU, the OECD and others, within the principle of complementarity, for the common good of the Black Sea region. The BSEC is already sharing its valuable experience with partner organizations and observer states on a periodic basis.

The Heads of State and Government of BSEC member countries will adopt a Declaration at the 20th Anniversary Summit, which will provide a new political impetus and direction for the organization. The summit is an opportunity to take stock of results achieved so far, and to show the necessary political will for creating a new BSEC vision. We need a new strategic focus for the BSEC that will enhance the wellbeing of the people of our region over the next decade.

The BSEC platform should be used effectively to address the new challenges and opportunities of the 21st century to further the prosperity of our people. We believe in the potential of the Black Sea and its people to successfully deal with current issues as a united force. In the near future the BSEC should focus much more on sustainable development issues.

We are honored to welcome the Heads of State and Government of member states, representatives of observer states and sectoral dialogue partners, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary Summit meeting. We are fully committed to supporting and strengthening the BSEC as a unique multilateral body that sends the message of peace and prosperity in this region and beyond. Turkey believes in the BSEC vision, which is the driving force of Black Sea regionalism, in a period when the role and importance of regional initiatives keeps growing.

I wish a successful summit to all participants and stakeholders.

June/26/2012

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