Summit kicks off with a new regional vision

Summit kicks off with a new regional vision

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Summit kicks off with a new regional vision

The 20th summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation starts with a reception hosted by Istanbul Gov Hüseyin Avni Mutlu. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Leaders of the member countries of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) are set to convene at a summit in Istanbul to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the BSEC today.

During its presidency starting July 1, Turkey is preparing to submit a new vision paper to enhance political dialogue in the Black Sea region, seeking to address the frozen conflicts that hinder economic progress amongst the member states of the BSEC, a senior official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said.

Turkey and Serbia, the current president, co-chair the Istanbul event.

“When you talk about economic cooperation, you also need to have a certain level of political dialogue amongst the member states ... However, frozen conflicts are hindering economic progress and economic cooperation,” the official said.

Today’s summit will be co-chaired by Serbia and Turkey, the two consecutive chairmanships-in-office of the BSEC during 2012.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül, Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets are amongst the participants. Armenia will participate in the summit at deputy foreign ministerial level.

Ahead of the summit meeting, which will take place in the afternoon, a special session of the council of ministers of foreign ministers is planned, as well as parallel events. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is scheduled to host a luncheon, and Turkish President Abdullah Gül will join the event in the afternoon.

The Tekfen Black Sea Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a concert as part of the opening ceremony of the summit.

A new vision
“The BSEC should also enhance political dialogue. We are planning to mark a new vision in our chairmanship. Everybody should have the right to be heard. We should be able to discuss every issue in the long run,” the foreign ministry official said.

The summit will focus on sustainable development, sustainable growth, energy, climate change and political dialogue.

Energy is another important issue. The Black Sea is a major energy route. “We also need to cover the climate issue at a regional level,” he added.

The governments of BSEC member states, observers and sector dialogue partners, as well as several international and regional organizations have been invited to the summit.

In parallel with the summit, several side events such as parliamentarian forums, academic and NGO forums, and business forums are also planned.

Currently, there are two important projects of the BSEC ongoing: the Black Sea ring highway and the motorways by the sea. The ring highway - which will have a length of 7,700 kilometers and which will make it able to travel the whole way round the Black Sea - is particularly important for intensifying relations among all sectors, the official said.

Other issues that are on the agenda are visa facilitation for lorry drivers and unemployment, which is widespread across the young population of BSEC countries.

A declaration will be announced at the end of the summit.