The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), launched as a regional initiative with the vision of promoting peace, stability, dialogue, and prosperity by means of economic cooperation, continues to be the most comprehensive international platform around the Black Sea.
In the course of the last three decades, our Organization has matured into a solid and dynamic institution. It has not only asserted itself as an anchor of cooperation in the wider Black Sea region but also as a prominent actor of international relations —as demonstrated by an ever-growing interest by third parties in establishing observership or partnership relations with it.
Present State of Affairs and Looking to the Future
It is no secret that the continuing tensions in our region adversely affect the state of cooperation under BSEC, too. However, Türkiye is confident that with its proven resilience, BSEC will resume its role in promoting stability and prosperity among the Member States as well as in encouraging and inspiring interaction and cooperation in the wider Black Sea region.
The main objective of the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office in 2023 will be to ensure the full resumption of collaboration among the Member States despite the present challenges. We intend to achieve that objective through a realistic, but pragmatic approach. We will build on the progress in the past two Chairmanships-in-Office and focus on less-explored avenues of cooperation that will serve the interests of the peoples of the wider Black Sea region.
Updating BSEC Economic Agenda & Approving Main Cooperation Documents
Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC aims to take the necessary steps together with the Member States to further strengthen the efforts that will contribute to the development of peace, stability and economic cooperation in the Black Sea region in accordance with BSEC’s founding principles and objectives.
The BSEC Economic Agenda, which serves as a medium-term guideline and strategy paper for BSEC’s work, needs to be updated to reflect the changing economic circumstances at the regional and global levels. The updated Economic Agenda will constitute a good reference point in navigating the tough waters with eyes on the horizon.
The work on updating the Agenda has already begun in the Serbian Chairmanship-in-Office particularly through the establishment of the “Informal Ad hoc Group of Experts on Updating the BSEC Economic Agenda”. Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will continue this important task with a view to concluding it before the end of 2023.
In this regard, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office in 2023 will work to establish concrete mechanisms for closer cooperation among the Member States in the respective areas, and the Adoption of the “Regional Trade Facilitation Strategy for the BSEC Region” and the “Framework for BSEC Single Window Cooperation” may positively contribute to the facilitation of trade among the BSEC Member States.
Activating the Project Development Fund (PDF)
An inherent part of advancing economic cooperation is developing and implementing sound and mutually beneficial projects. While PDF stands as an established funding mechanism to realize joint projects in BSEC, it remains inactive due to a lack of sufficient contributions from Member States. The Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will strongly encourage contributions form Member States to reactivate the PDF and introduce joint projects to give our Organization a new impetus in regional collaboration.
Reactivating BSEC Business Council (BSEC BC)
As an economic cooperation organization without a strong private sector pillar is unthinkable, Türkiye will work to reactivate BSEC BC to intensify commercial relations among the Member States. To that end, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will strongly support the initiatives of BSEC BC and facilitate private sector events during its tenure.
Resuming the work of the BSEC Coordination Centre for the Exchange of Statistical Data and Economic Information
Sharing data is necessary to help us see how we are doing and how cooperation leads to development. As we progress towards increased cooperation, it is necessary for us to collate our data to ensure we are all moving forward together.
BSEC Coordination Centre for the Exchange of Statistical Data and Economic Information had issued various publications concerning the socio-economic indicators and trade statistics of Member States until 2007. However, the Center, hosted by Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) in Ankara, has been inactive since 2007 due to insufficient data-sharing by the Member States’ corresponding agencies.
TÜİK stands ready to resume its data collection and publications, which will serve as a solid scientific reference point in enhancing trade and economic cooperation in our region. Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office encourages all Member States to share data with the Center and will follow up on the issue in appropriate formats.
Strengthening the External relations of BSEC and the PERMIS
The scope and depth of relations with non-member partners are key factors defining the strength of an intergovernmental organization. Likewise, the level of interest of third parties to cooperate with an intergovernmental organization is a critical indicator of that organization’s attractiveness, relevance, and importance in its field of work and geography.
As the most comprehensive organization of the wider Black Sea region, BSEC attracts the attention of many States and regional/international organizations, which wish to become part of the synergy and cooperation created by BSEC by obtaining Observer or Sectoral Dialogue Partner status.
Likewise, Observers and Sectoral Dialogue Partners contribute to the achievement of the goals of BSEC in a number of different ways and create a mutually beneficial relationship. Therefore, it is a necessary and useful policy to increase the number of BSEC’s partners as well as to deepen our cooperation with them.
Acting in a spirit of friendship and good neighborliness, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will strongly support the Improving of BSEC’s relations with Observers and Partners and other regional/international organizations.
The Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will strive for enhancing the international standing of BSEC through intensified relations with other regional and international organizations and to that end continue to support a strong Permanent International Secretariat (PERMIS), which can develop joint projects with partner institutions in line with the BSEC principles and objectives.
Strengthening the Troika mechanism
Troika, an established mechanism in many international organizations that helps to maintain the continuity of successive chairmanships, is particularly important for BSEC, where the chairmanship period is relatively shorter.
We appreciate the revival of this important mechanism by the previous Chairmanship-in-Office. Strongly believing in its benefits for our Organization, the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office will continue to hold regular Troika meetings.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, all BSEC meetings were held online until recently. For example, the last in-person Council of Foreign Ministers (CMFA) meeting was held in December 2019 in Athens. We thank the previous Serbian Chairmanship-in-Office for resuming some meetings in physical format. Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office is planning to hold an increasing number of meetings in physical format, including the CMFA meeting in December and the Troika meetings, while being mindful of the possible restrictions of Members States in terms of physical participation to meetings.