PRIORITIES OF THE TURKISH CHAIRMANSHIP-IN-OFFICE OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION
(January - June 2017)
“Strengthening Partnership for Sustainable Development”
Approaching its 25th Anniversary, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) strives to bring greater added value to the region by developing and implementing projects for the common benefit of its Member States. In a rapidly changing global environment, taking practical and realistic steps to turn BSEC into a more dynamic and result-oriented organization which is more relevant and responsive to the needs of the peoples and countries of the region has become increasingly important.
This requires the joint commitment and efforts of all Member States towards change and reform, where necessary, based on consensus, to build a stronger future for the Organization.
Our efforts should mostly focus on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization and its Secretariat, institutional reform and the streamlining of existing rules, procedures and processes. Taking stock of the already achieved experiences and progress during the previous Chairmanships-in-Office, the Turkish Chairmanship will play a constructive role by bringing together the different views of the Member States and identifying common denominators to foster consensus among them.
To provide the appropriate platform for the renewal of commitments by the Member States to the Organization, its objectives and future perspectives at the highest level, the Republic of Turkey will host a Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the BSEC Member States on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Organization, on 22 May 2017, in Istanbul. The Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will work closely with all Member States in order to finalize the ongoing reform efforts within BSEC before the Summit, to allow the Organization to set sail to a new era on its anniversary.
In this new era, to further contribute to the efficiency of the Permanent International Secretariat of the Organization, the Republic of Turkey, as the Host Country of the BSEC Headquarters, will fully finance the relocation of the premises of the Secretariat to provide it with a more modern working environment.
For the past 25 years, BSEC’s activities have been supporting the efforts of its Member States in their path towards sustainable development.
Considering that the international community has set the Sustainable Development Goals as their priorities for the next 15 years, Turkey believes that each country and each regional and international organization should contribute to the implementation of these universal goals. 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 Decision titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization”, dated 21 November 2016.
It is with this understanding that the main theme of the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office has been identified as “Strengthening Partnership for Sustainable Development”. In this regard, Turkey will pursue a number of sectoral priorities during its Chairmanship which will also help BSEC to contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Sectoral Priorities of the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office
i) Agriculture and Agro-Industry
The Turkish Chairmanship acknowledges that agriculture and agro-industry play a strategic role in the social structure and economic development of all BSEC Member States. The sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources, for the benefit of present and future generations, is important for the entire region.
As the rural economy continues to be a major component of the prevailing economic structure in the region, the Chairmanship will strive to strengthen the mutually beneficial cooperation among the BSEC Member States in the field of agriculture and agro-industry.
Considering that deepening collaboration among the Member States in this field could contribute to the sustainability of agricultural and rural development policies in the region and yield a positive impact on creating employment for a vast number of people, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will organize a meeting of the BSEC Ministers of Agriculture in May 2017.
ii) Trade and Economic Development
The Turkish Chairmanship will support the ongoing efforts to establish a Regional Trade Facilitation Strategy for the BSEC Region.
The Chairmanship will promote, in close cooperation with the business community of the BSEC Member States, the elaboration of practical mechanisms for the elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade and the simplification of the existing border crossing procedures in the region.
To this end, the Turkish Chairmanship envisages organizing a meeting of the BSEC Ministers of Economy during its term, as well as a BSEC Business Forum which will bring together the representatives of the business communities of the Member States on the margins of the BSEC 25th Anniversary Summit.
The Chairmanship will also encourage initiatives in the sphere of electronic commerce, with the objective of creating conditions for a barrier-free, secure and transparent cross-border e-commerce environment in the region.
Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office also acknowledges that, cooperation in the field of transportation will also play a significant role in terms of developing trade and economic development.
iii) Strengthening the Role of SMEs and Supporting Inclusive Businesses
The Turkish Chairmanship will continue promoting activities and policies towards supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbones of the economy and play a crucial role in the economic and social life of all BSEC Member States.
Acknowledging that entrepreneurship requires specially designed policies and an enabling environment to flourish, the Chairmanship will dedicate its SME-related activities to fostering entrepreneurship among the more vulnerable sections of society, including women, youth, the disabled and refugees, in order to contribute to unleashing the untapped potential in the region which is vital for sustainable economic development in all BSEC Member States.
In this context, the Turkish Chairmanship will organize a Workshop on Promoting Entrepreneurial Culture and Ecosystems in the BSEC Region and a special Training Program for the Trainers of Young, Women, Disabled and Refugee Entrepreneurs on 9-10 May 2016, in Istanbul.
iv) Banking and Finance
The level of development of the stock exchange institutions in a country is one of the determining factors in attracting foreign direct investments to that country. With this understanding, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will work towards enhancing the collective investment profile of the region through promoting collaboration, knowledge exchange and capacity building among the stock exchange institutions in the BSEC Member States.
In this context, a Forum of Stock Exchanges of the BSEC Member States will be organized by the Turkish Chairmanship in May 2017, in Istanbul. The aim will be to exchange views regarding recent developments in the capital markets of the BSEC Member States and to discuss the possibilities of potential cooperation among the stock exchange institutions in the region.
In energy cooperation, the Turkish Chairmanship will continue promoting activities related to energy security, green energy and sustainable energy development.
During the Turkish Chairmanship, a Round Table Meeting will be organized with the participation of the Energy Regulation Institutions of the Member States to foster closer interaction and exchange in the sphere of energy regulation policies.
The Chairmanship will support enhancing collaboration in the field of tourism, considering the important potential the Black Sea region offers, as well as the contribution of tourism and cultural exchanges to the development of mutual understanding and friendly relations among the peoples of the region.
As tourism is a labor-force driven service sector, the Chairmanship will support capacity building and workforce development efforts in this sphere. To share its vast accumulated experience in tourism industry, the Republic of Turkey will offer conducting vocational tourism education programs in the BSEC Member States within the framework of bilateral and multilateral agreements, starting from March 2017 during its Chairmanship and until the end of the year, upon the request of the Member States.
Acknowledging the significant potential of cruise tourism in the region, the Turkish Chairmanship will organize a special seminar dedicated to this topic in the first quarter of 2017. The seminar will bring together all interested countries and representatives of the private sector to exchange views on eliminating existing problems and developing cooperation in the field of cruise tourism.
The Chairmanship will continue supporting efforts to create a knowledge-based economy and encourage scientific innovation, through promoting the exchange of best practices in achieving the highest standards and quality in the field of education in all BSEC Member States, in particular science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
In this context, a Workshop for “Establishing a Cooperation Network in Quality Assurance in Higher Education” will be organized by the Chairmanship, in Ankara.
Relations with BSEC Related Bodies, Observers, Sectoral Dialogue Partners and other Regional and International Organizations
The Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will conduct its activities and pursue its priorities in a spirit of cooperation, based on the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and openness, with the support of all BSEC Member States and the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat.
In this regard, the Chairmanship will continue to ensure close coordination and interaction between BSEC and its Related Bodies, namely, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC), the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), the International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) and the BSEC Business Council (BSEC BC).
The Chairmanship will also continue the efforts to further enhance BSEC’s relations with its Observers and Sectoral Dialogue Partners, as well as with other regional and international organizations, including the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes, UN Alliance of Civilizations, and the European Union, in areas of common interest.