PRIORITIES OF THE RUSSIAN CHAIRMANSHIP-IN-OFFICE OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION
(January - June 2016)
1. GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE RUSSIAN CHAIRMANSHIP
During its Chairmanship, Russia intends to work towards increasing the economic impact of the Organization's activities. To this end, Russia plans to further implement the main provisions of the BSEC Economic Agenda: Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership adopted at the meeting of the BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade and approved at the BSEC Summit in Istanbul in June 2012.
We also assume that the Russian Chairmanship in BSEC in 2016 will lay the necessary groundwork for the events timed to mark the 25th anniversary of the Organization (2017). We consider that the 25th anniversary should primarily emphasize a new stage and set new tasks, which require an informal and focused discussion on the future of BSEC. Therefore, during Russia's Chairmanship, we plan to organize in April 2016 a special informal meeting at the level of senior officials of the Member States in order to work out a number of specific recommendations for improving the efficiency of the BSEC activities and strengthening its financial basis.
Russia is interested in the further improvement of BSEC, provided that its Charter is respected and its institutional framework is enhanced. And it is extremely important to follow the existing format of work in full compliance with the BSEC Statutory Documents without politicizing the matters of economic, investment, and infrastructure-related cooperation.
BSEC can only operate successfully if it focuses on achieving specific results, builds confidence in the Black Sea region, and implements the projects that contribute to sustainable development and comprehensive modernization of the Member States' economies, enhanced competitiveness of the BSEC region and its recognition across the world.
2. SPECIFIC AREAS OF COOPERATION
2.1 Economic, trade and customs cooperation
In this area, the Russian Federation will prioritize the issues of expanded use of guarantee funds for small and medium-sized enterprises that facilitate their access to financial resources, prospects for SME’s of BSEC Member States to enter the international markets, promotion of the dialogue on e-commerce and trade facilitation procedures in the Black Sea region.
As for cooperation on Customs Matters, Russia will intensify the work on elaborating standard-form contracts with the Member States on developing the “green corridor” system and enhancing interaction between adjoining checkpoints, including in the context of the preliminary sharing of information on goods transported.
2.2 Transport and tourism
The systematic work on the implementation of the Russian initiative to develop multimodal cargo and passenger ferry lines in the Black Sea region will be continued, with a view to signing a corresponding memorandum by Member States as a result of such work.
Taking into account the significant share of services in the economic structure of the BSEC Member States, Russia will promote further development of regional tourism, inter alia, through creation of the cruise lines in the Black Sea.
The work on further implementation of two major BSEC infrastructure projects – the Black Sea Ring Highway and the Development of the Motorways of the Sea in the BSEC Region – will also be continued.
As for energy cooperation, Russia will focus on the development of energy infrastructure as a whole (oil, gas and electricity), including the creation of enabling environment for the realization of the Black Sea Electric Power Ring project and attraction of investments for the implementation of vital infrastructure projects.
It is also planned to develop cooperation in the area of regular exchange of information concerning the updates and amendments to the energy legislation of the BSEC Member States. Such exchange will contribute to raising awareness among the BSEC partners and establishing a constructive dialogue within the Organization.
2.4 Emergency situations
In our opinion, one of the priorities in that area is the establishment of new and improvement of the existing mechanisms within the Organization on the interaction among national services for prevention and elimination of consequences from natural and man-made disasters.
In addition, we intend to pay great attention to developing a package of measures for early warning of the Member States and coordination of their activities in case of natural or man-made emergencies.
We will continue to make efforts to establish a network of crisis centers which would provide the necessary assistance in preventing and eliminating consequences of natural disasters and emergency situations.
We will be further contributing to the increase of the level of interaction within the sectoral BSEC Working Group as well as within the Ad hoc Working Groups on Floods and Torrents, Massive Forest Fires and Seismic Risk established on the Russian initiative.
As to agriculture, Russia will pay special attention to cooperation in food security, in particular to the issues of providing the population of the BSEC countries with safe agricultural products and food.
We plan to intensify the cooperation in the field of agro-industry development in BSEC Member States. The aims of such cooperation development are as follows: to attract the investments into the agro-industry of the Russian Federation and, vice versa, to encourage Russian investments into agro-industry of other Member States.
At the same time, we will promote favorable conditions for improving infrastructure of agri-food market of the BSEC countries and making the most of the advantageous geographical location of the States of the region in order to increase mutual food supplies.
2.6 Cooperation in combating organized crime
In this area, Russia prioritizes combating human trafficking and extremist activity, as well as ensuring security during the preparation of major international events, including sporting ones (FIFA World Cup 2018).
In healthcare, Russia proposes to focus attention on the quality control of medicines and provision of sanitary and epidemiological welfare. In this regard, we will further work on harmonizing relevant draft documents prepared by the Russian Ministry of Healthcare – the Memorandum of Understanding on Information Exchange and Cooperation in the Sphere of Quality Assurance of Medicines and the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Sanitary Protection of the Territories of the BSEC Member States.
It is also expected to expand the cooperation areas by putting on the agenda such issues as combating non-communicable diseases caused by alcohol and tobacco consumption and advancement of innovations using the latest achievements of medical science.
Due attention will be given to the development of common approaches to medical care provision, including disaster medicine.
2.8 Scientific and technical cooperation
In scientific and technical cooperation, Russia seeks to develop the four key elements of the common research space – establishment of funding mechanisms for multilateral research projects; support for and development of network cooperation between scientific and educational organizations, principally within the Black Sea Universities Network which has the status of a BSEC sectoral dialogue partner; application of scientific research outputs for the economic development of the Member States; increased international interaction regarding joint participation of the BSEC countries in the implementation of major research projects and, consequently, joint use of the research infrastructure of the BSEC Member States.
3. INTERACTION WITH BSEC-RELATED BODIES AND PARTNERS
Russia intends to promote further capacity development of BSEC-related bodies – Parliamentary Assembly, Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, Business Council, International Centre for Black Sea Studies.
It seems appropriate to continue developing interaction between BSEC and other international and regional organizations, with a special focus on preserving BSEC identity and strengthening its authority.
In this context, Russia will further encourage strengthened interaction between BSEC and UN organizations, pursuant to the provisions of relevant UN General Assembly resolutions on cooperation between the United Nations and BSEC, as well as to the outcome of the special BSEC CMFA Meeting which took place in New York on the margins of the 70th session of the UNGA. On our initiative, the representative of the UN Secretary General was invited to participate in this special CMFA Meeting.
Russia intends, in close cooperation with the management of the Permanent International Secretariat, to continue to make efforts to intensify interaction between BSEC and the EU on an equal and mutually beneficial basis primarily in such fields as Transport, Environmental Protection, Innovation, Information Technology, Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime.
The BSEC observers and sectoral dialogue partners have a considerable potential for enhancing the BSEC capacities. Russia seeks to promote their more active involvement in addressing issues of regional cooperation. In this respect, it is necessary to bear in mind that the participation of extra-regional countries in multilateral cooperation within the BSEC must be tailored to mutual needs. It is also reasonable to consider the possibility of attracting international financial institutions for example such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB BRICS) and the Silkroad Foundation to the implementation of the regional infrastructure projects.
The Calendar of Events of the Russian Chairmanship-in-Office in the Organization of BSEC for the period from January through June 2016 was designed on the basis of these Priorities.
The large-scale integrated work with the Russian Ministries and Agencies has been carried out for its development.
As key events we plan to hold the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Healthcare, Culture and Tourism, Emergency Assistance, as well as the Meetings of Heads of Customs Agencies and Statistical Services.
Besides, we will hold the Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) in Rostov-on-Don on 22-23 March 2016, the Informal Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials, which is also “The Brainstorming Meeting”, in Sochi on 19-20 April 2016 and the CSO Meeting in Sochi on 29-30 June 2016 just before the CMFA Meeting which is scheduled for 1 July 2016. This date has been agreed upon with our Serbian colleagues.
The following events will also take place: Meetings of the BSEC Working Groups on Science and Technology, Transport, Emergency Assistance, Education, Agriculture and Agro Industry, Energy, Healthcare and Pharmaceutics, Tourism, Combating Organized Crime, Small and Medium Enterprises, Trade and Economic Development, Customs Matters, as well as seminars, conferences and meetings of the steering committee on certain aspects of the BSEC activities.
We will actively work towards consistent implementation of the agreements reached at Member States meetings. And we also call on you, dear colleagues, to engage more closely with your counterparts from the line ministries in order to encourage them to participate actively in the forthcoming events.
Official website of the Russian Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC