CHAIRMANSHIP 
PRIORITIES OF THE MOLDOVAN CHAIRMANSHIP-IN-OFFICE OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION
(January-June 2015)

The priorities of the Moldovan Chairmanship in the BSEC Organization have been drafted in conformity with the Article 13 of the Charter of the BSEC which states that the Chairman-in-office shall coordinate all activities carried out within the framework of the BSEC and ensure the proper conduct of the BSEC proceedings as well as the implementation of the Resolutions and Decisions adopted.

The purpose of the document is to outline the intentions of the Chairmanship to advance the cooperation and interaction among the 12 BSEC Member States through the policies to be implemented and the activities to be carried out in the areas of cooperation defined by the Article 3 of the BSEC Charter during the 6-month period.

Inspired by the motto “Bringing Stability, Ensuring Consensus”, which is the acronym for the “BSEC”, the Moldovan Chairmanship will continue to build on the achievements of the previous Hellenic, Bulgarian and other Chairmanships in order to fulfill the objectives set forth in the “Economic Agenda towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership”, adopted by the BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in June 2012.

Stability is the synonym for growth, confidence, dialogue and cooperation, good neighbourliness and the spirit of friendship. Those were and, still, are the meanings inscribed in the BSEC Charter and the Bosphorus Statement aimed at turning the BSEC region into one of peace, stability and prosperity. In today’s changing political landscape of the Black Sea region, stability is more than ever required to promote the economic cooperation among the Member States. The Chairmanship will attempt to further explore the possibilities of deepening the sectoral cooperation in order to strengthen the stability of the region.

Consensus, on the other side, has been one of the main principles of the BSEC, since its inception in 1992, designed to converge the diverse and sometimes contradictory positions of the Member States towards a homogeneous, consistent and uniformed process of cooperation in the Black Sea area. This principle ensures the establishment of an environment of interaction based on the assumption of all-inclusiveness and regional ownership. The Chairmanship will endeavour to achieve consensus on all issues considered within the BSEC framework during its term of office.
During the 6-month period, the Chairmanship will focus on the following priorities to be implemented by the BSEC with the consent by and the participation of the Member States, Related Bodies and to some extent of Observers, Dialogue Partners and Sectoral Dialogue Partners, as well as the international and regional organizations having established an institutional relationship with the BSEC.

I.  MAIN PRIORITIES

ENHANCING THE PROJECT-ORIENTED AGENDA

The Moldovan Chairmanship will continue to promote the project-oriented character of the Organization and strengthen its operational capabilities and mechanisms. Further steps will be taken towards activities aimed at implementing the already existing and identifying new projects of common interest for the Member States, specifically those that will reinforce economic cooperation in the region and stimulate the interaction among the business, academic, and other communities of the BSEC Member States.

The Project Management Unit (PMU), having the leading role in developing, planning and implementing joint projects, will be rendered the necessary assistance and support in attracting the potential financial resources from the BSEC region and outside the BSEC in order to make it operational.

The Project Development Fund (PDF), as the existing mechanism for financing pre-feasibility and feasibility studies of the potential joint projects, will require a new approach towards examining the ways of substantially increasing the resources available to the PDF, including through the contributions of Observers and Dialogue Partners and from other available sources.

The Chairmanship will consider also other ways and means of consolidating the project-oriented dimension of the BSEC in close cooperation with the Member States, Related Bodies, business community and potential partners based on and learning from the previous positive experience of the Hellenic Development Fund (HDF).

IMPROVING THE BSEC-EU INTERACTION

One of the main priorities of the Chairmanship will remain the further development and enhancement of the BSEC-EU interaction. The Chairmanship will regard the BSEC-EU enhanced relationship as a forward-looking framework, which shapes the foundation of a valuable regional interaction based on the synergy of bilateral relations, the potential of the cross-border cooperation and the benefits from the various complementary and relevant regional dimensions and policies, such as the Black Sea Synergy and the Eastern Partnership initiative.

The important added value of an enhanced BSEC–EU interaction will consist in providing more coherent and concrete actions towards the development of a secure, stable and prosperous Black Sea area. This objective could be achieved by developing a balanced, mutually beneficial and result-oriented relationship between BSEC and EU institutions based on complementarity, partnership and coordination in those areas where such cooperation is deemed to be desirable and feasible. The meaning in this interaction will be to suggest an institutionalized framework for continuous policy dialogue and cooperative actions between BSEC and EU institutions in an evolving regional and global context. Subsequently, a comprehensive Action Plan can be jointly elaborated for the implementation of the proposed BSEC-EU cooperation by identifying not only specific priorities, but also concrete projects of mutual interest.

Regular contacts and joint coordination meetings at executive and working level will be encouraged between the BSEC PERMIS and Related Bodies with their counterparts in the EU institutions. The BSEC-COEST format shall be maintained and further developed. The Chairmanship intends to hold consultations with the EC/EEAS on the issues concerning the future arrangements of BSEC-EU interaction.

Within the BSEC, the status and the mandate of the Ad hoc Working Group of Experts on BSEC-EU Interaction shall be further considered at the next meetings of this subsidiary body as well as at the CSO level. 

REFORMING BSEC AND IMPROVING ITS ACTIVITIES

In line with the conclusions of the informal meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in New-York on 25 September 2014 the Chairmanship will continue to promote the discussion on the possible need to reform the BSEC. This process will take into consideration the necessary structural and organizational adaptations of the organization to the on-going changes in the region and beyond in order to improve its activities and enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. Provided the consensus is attained on the need to reform the BSEC, the Chairmanship will convene an informal meeting specifically for this purpose.

In the meanwhile the Chairmanship, in cooperation with the Member States, will continue to implement the “Guidelines on Improvement of the BSEC Efficiency” adopted by 19th Council, aimed at raising the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization.

II. SECTORAL PRIORITIES

Transport

The Chairmanship will continue to promote the development of reliable, efficient, safe, integrated and sustainable transport systems in the BSEC region. This work will be carried out through activities within the framework of the BSEC Working Group on Transport, Steering Committee on the Development of the Black Sea Ring Highway, Ad Hoc Working Group on the Development of the Motorways of the Sea and Steering Committee on the Facilitation of Road Transport of Goods in the BSEC Region, ensuring that practical measures are taken for the implementation of the provisions of relevant Ministerial Declarations and Memoranda.

The Chairmanship will render its assistance for further enlargement of the geographical coverage of the BSEC Permit system and extension of its usage, on a voluntary basis, to the third country transport, as well as shifting the practice from single to multiple trips.

Being the first country to introduce the International Vehicle Weight Certificate (IVWC) within the BSEC, under Annex 8 to the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods, the Chairmanship will take measures to promote the IVWC Pilot Project as an additional tool to facilitate the transport of goods in the BSEC region.

The Chairmanship will expedite the organization of the joint meeting of the Working Group on Transport, the Working Group on Customs Matters and the Steering Committee on the Facilitation of Road Transport of Goods in order to consider the practical ways and means of facilitation of trade and road transport of goods, including through the implementation of the UN and WCO international conventions. The Chairmanship will promote the implementation of the TIR-EPD Green Lines on the main road transport corridors in the BSEC region, acknowledging the work already done by some Member States in this regard.

A meeting of the Ministers of Transport of the BSEC Member States will be convened to discuss the mentioned issues, to be preceded by the meetings of the relevant subsidiary bodies.

Trade and Economic Development

The Chairmanship BSEC will further encourage and support the activities of the Working Group on Trade and Economic Development aimed at facilitation of trade in BSEC region by eliminating the non-tariff barriers on trade, simplifying the existing cross-border procedures, setting up an information exchange mechanism on trade and economic issues. The Chairmanship will work closely with the Country Coordinator of the Working Group on Trade and Economic Development in order to elaborate concrete proposals on the mentioned areas.

Establishing a Trade and Investment Facilitation Mechanism in the BSEC Region will be further considered in the framework of the organization with the ultimate aim of enhancing trade cooperation and exchanges among the BSEC Member States, in conformity with the standards and rules of WTO.

The issues of establishing a Regional Committee on Trade Facilitation and elaboration of a Regional Strategy on Trade Facilitation will be dealt with within the Working Groups on Trade and Economic Development and on Customs Matters with the final consideration by the Ministers of Trade and Economy at their meeting in spring 2015.

Health Care and Pharmaceuticals

The Chairmanship will continue to build on the results of the last ministerial meeting held during the Hellenic Chairmanship. It will enable the implementation of the Joint Declaration of the Ministers in charge of Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, including the streamlining of the established Network for Emergency Preparedness and Response within the BSEC region.

Developing cooperation in the field of sanitary protection, according to the national legislations, and exerting efforts to make the “Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Sanitary Protection of the Territories of the BSEC Member States” operational will be among the priorities of the Chairmanship.

The national health authorities of the BSEC Member States will be encouraged to coordinate their actions in order to allow the regular and systematic exchange of information on health threats and enhance cooperation in combating infectious diseases in the BSEC region.

A meeting of the Ministers in charge of healthcare will be organized during the Moldovan Chairmanship to review the work accomplished by the Working Group on Health Care and Pharmaceutics (WGHP) and to consider the cooperation of the relevant national authorities of the BSEC Member States on the adoption and implementation of the effective regulatory measures in the field of tobacco control, as a high priority for public health and socio-economic development.

Cooperation in Tourism

The Chairmanship will facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration of the Ministers in Charge of Tourism of the BSEC Member States adopted in Athens in October 2014 paying a special emphasis on promoting BSEC region as an appealing leisure and business destination.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the BSEC and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) paves the way for a closer cooperation between two organizations. In this regard, the PERMIS will be entrusted with the tasks to further explore the ways and means of further strengthening the cooperation between BSEC and UNWTO, including by exploring the possibility of initiating joint projects in the field of tourism. 

A meeting of the Ministers in charge of tourism will continue considering the issues of cooperation among the national authorities responsible for tourism and will discuss the Action Plan for the implementation of the provisions of the Athens Declaration. Besides, the ministers will consider, among other important issues, the possibility to stimulate the cooperation between public and private tourism stakeholders and encourage the tourist and travel agencies from the BSEC region to promote joint multi-destination packages combining as many BSEC Member States as possible.

The Working Group on Cooperation in Tourism will hold its regular session in spring 2015 in order to prepare the ministerial meeting.

Culture

As the Country Coordinator of the Working Group on Culture, the Chairmanship will continue to promote cultural ties among Member States and will encourage joint projects in the field of contemporary culture, cultural itineraries and intercultural dialogue.
The Chairmanship intends to submit the agreed Memorandum of Understanding on the Protection of Cultural Heritage among the BSEC Member States BSEC for its final approval to the next Council.

In the meantime the Working Group on Culture will continue considering the Memorandum of Understanding among the BSEC Member States on cooperation in combating illicit trafficking of cultural property belonging to the archeological, historical, ethnographical heritage and arts.

Given the importance of the BSEC region and its Member States in terms of diverse cultural traditions, and attractive geographical landscape the Working Group on Culture will consider the possibility of developing cultural tourism in the region.

Other areas of cooperation

During the 6-months term, the Chairmanship will maintain the issue of Youth and Sports on its agenda, including by considering it within the Working Group on Culture as well as by organizing a workshop on “Governance in professional sporting bodies in the BSEC countries”.

The Chairmanship will continue its close cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in organizing workshop and seminars on SMEs thematic.

In addition to the already mentioned activities, the Chairmanship will convene the regular meetings of the Working Group on Agriculture and Agro-Industry, Working Group on Energy, Working Group on Banking and Finance, Working Group on SMEs, Working Group on Education, other Ad Hoc Expert Groups, Steering Committee meetings and a number of Workshops, International Conference, Round Tables and similar gatherings.

The Chairmanship will attach high importance to ensure a close cooperation between the BSEC and its Related Bodies, Parliamentary Assembly (PABSEC), Business Council (BSEC BC), Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) and International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS).

III. PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

Due to the “synchronization” process, the BSEC Chairmanship coincides with the PABSEC Presidency. Following the Hellenic PABSEC Presidency during the 2014 and building on its achievements, the Moldovan Presidency will continue to facilitate the process of providing the legal ground for the realization of the principles and goals stipulated in the BSEC Charter as well as for the implementation of the objectives set forth in the “Economic Agenda towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership”.

During the 6-month period, the PABSEC Presidency will promote friendly relations and cooperation between the parliamentarians and Parliaments of the BSEC Member States, thus creating an environment of confidence and good neighbourliness among peoples, communities and regions in the Black Sea area.
Taking into account the established contacts with various international organizations and parliamentary assemblies, the Presidency, through the International Secretariat of PABSEC, will continue to maintain and enhance the relations with   these entities, many of them having also the observer status with the PABSEC.
A priority of the PABSEC Presidency will constitute the efforts aimed at advancing relations with the European Parliament, as an additional component of the efforts by the BSEC towards development and enhancement of the BSEC-EU interaction.
The Committees of the PABSEC Assembly will consider at their meetings the issues related to the role of sports in promoting growth, employment and social cohesion in the BSEC region, the new technologies in the development and strengthening of information society in the BSEC Member States and the basic principles of election legislation in the BSEC Member States. The Presidency will host the 44th plenary session of the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly in Chisinau in June 2015.

The interaction between the governmental and parliamentary dimensions of the BSEC will be based, inter alia, on the provisions of the “Modalities for Enhancing Coordination and Cooperation between BSEC and PABSEC”, endorsed by the 19th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 23 October 2008 and the PABSEC Standing Committee held on 9 June 2008. The Chairmanship and the Presidency are willing to submit the draft “Joint Action Plan for Enhancing Cooperation between BSEC and PABSEC” for consideration and ultimate adoption at the appropriate meetings during the Moldovan Chairmanship.

IV. BUSINESS COUNCIL

The Chairmanship in the Business Council (BC) will continue to promote the interaction among the business communities of the Member States and facilitate the public-private partnership. It will further facilitate the contacts between business companies, the exchange of experience and know-how and other forms of interaction through trade conferences, business forums, exhibitions, fairs and sectoral meetings.

The Chairmanship will support the activities of the BC International Secretariat aimed at strengthening direct and close cooperation with business circles in order to better respond to the regional challenges and to provide the private sector with the trade and investment opportunities inside and outside the region.

In order to ensure the proper functioning of the BC International Secretariat and to redress its financial situation the Chairmanship will bring into consideration these issues at the next meeting of the Board of Directors of the BSEC BC.
The 50th regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the BSEC Business Council will be convened in Chisinau in spring 2015.

V. RELATIONS WITH INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The Chairmanship will further promote the existing relations with the international and regional organizations that have established an institutional relationship with the BSEC. The PERMIS, under the authority of the Chairman-in-office, will continue to maintain and further develop these relations based on the existing legal framework of interaction as well as on the already established cooperation that has been carried out with these organizations and institutions.