EU Black Sea Conference Seeks to Boost Regional Cooperation

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner is scheduled to participate in the first Black Sea Synergy Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EU and the Black Sea region in Kiev on Thursday, the EU Mission in Armenia reported.
The Black Sea Synergy is an initiative that was launched by the European Commission in 2007 with the aim of boosting cooperation in the region as well as between the EU and the region as a whole.
Foreign Ministers are set to agree on priorities for future projects and discuss the potential for enhanced EU involvement with countries of the region and the role of regional organizations and other initiatives in this process, the EU Mission reported.
"Black Sea Synergy is designed to attract political attention to the Black Sea region and provide new opportunities through increased cooperation with the EU. It also provides opportunities for increased cooperation with Turkey and Russia," Ferrero-Waldner said ahead of the meeting. "We believe Black Sea Synergy can achieve results particularly in five key areas: energy, good governance, transport, environment, migration and the fight against cross-border crime."
"I am personally committed to exploring all the potential provided by Black Sea Synergy, and I am convinced that this new process could also be conducive to facilitate joint solutions for the frozen conflicts around this region," she said, referring to Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Black Sea Synergy Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the EU and of the countries of the Black Sea Region will be co-chaired by Ukraine and the EU and will be presided over by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. Black Sea Synergy will go beyond European Neighborhood Policy by including Turkey and Russia, according to Ferrero-Waldner.
Countries which have expressed a special interest in Black Sea regional cooperation, international financial institutions and regional organizations and initiatives active in the Black Sea region will be given the opportunity to observe the conference, she said.
The EU is developing a framework of cooperation with a number of concrete initiatives in the fields of transport, energy, environment, and fight against organized crime, maritime policy, fisheries management, migration, information society and education. Examples of this would be the common interest for the EU and the countries in the region to focus on the development of "motorways of the sea" and a solid environmental framework to protect the Black Sea and its river basins. In addition, there will be a Black Sea cross-border cooperation program involving local authorities and supporting civil society activities and people to people contacts, the EU Mission in Armenia’said.
On the eve of the ministerial meeting, an informal meeting of ministers will provide the opportunity to discuss a wide range of political issues affecting the Black Sea region. Meanwhile, a special ministerial meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization will be held Thursday before the Black Sea Synergy Ministerial Meeting. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will also participate in this Meeting together with the current Slovenian and future French EU Presidency.

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