Oskanian Participates in Black Sea Conference

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian was in Kiev Friday participating in a Special Session of the EU and Black Sea Economic Cooperation Foreign Ministers Meeting.
The Conference began with the opening statemen’s of Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko. The ministers discussed deeper cooperation between the countries of the two regions in the areas of energy, ecology and transport. Oskanian’s statement at that meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities of such collaboration.
"Our challenge at this meeting is in many ways tougher…our histories overlapped in the centuries when the world was much bigger than it is today. In today’s shrinking world, it is inevitable that our interests too, will overlap," Oskanian said. "Here then is the opportunity and the challenge: to advance together when those interests coincide, and to avoid confrontation where those interests clash."
The BSEC has been able to include sates that depend on and benefit from the Black Sea, even when those states have had differing policies and approaches, Oskanian remarked.
But cooperation within the framework of the BSEC has not reached its optimal levels because cooperation is still highly lacking, he noted.
"If we were not able, or willing, to shoot for the greater good for our own sakes, perhaps we can do so through the opportunity of a new role of bridge between Europe and Europe’s neighbors, between our neighbors and Europe," he said, as he encouraged a new era of cooperation between the states of the region. "Therefore, the Black Sea is not just a body of water, but a definition of a potential geopolitical role in a modern world."
"Today’s discussion is about connecting markets and values, institutions and experiences, thus protecting and promoting stability, prosperity, democracy and security of the countries around and near the Black Sea region and thus in and around Europe," Oskanian remarked.
"Armenia will chair BSEC in the second half of this year," he concluded. "We look forward to continuing to serve as a bridge between our old neighbors, our neighbors."
The conference passed a joint declaration at its conclusion. During the conference, Minister Oskanian signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the development of waterways in the Black Sea region.
Within the margins of the conference, Oskanian held bilateral meetings with several of the foreign ministers in attendance. He met with Georgia’s newly appointed Foreign Minister David Bakradze and discussed issues of concern to the two countries, noting the two sides’ commitment to deepen relations and to support mutually beneficial projects in all areas. Acknowledging the two countries’ differing approaches to conflict settlement, they reaffirmed that they would continue to be circumspect in their policies, intending to buttress as much as possible Armenia-Georgia relations, which is at the basis of South Caucasus stability. Minister Oskanian highlighted that it is important for both countries to be engaged in regional transport programs. The two colleagues also spoke about current international issues including Kosovo’s expected declaration of independence and its consequences. The Georgian Minister also hinted at the prospects for better Georgian-Russian relations.
Minister Oskanian also met with Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. The two highlighted the friendly relations between the two peoples. They discussed the Kosovo issue and related developmen’s, the approaches of interested parties on the settlement of existing conflicts. Oskanian spoke about domestic Armenian issues, including the upcoming presidential elections.
Oskanian will is also scheduled to meet Friday with Ukraine’s new Foreign Minister, Vladimir Ogrizko.
The cooperation between the EU and countries of the Black Sea region may promote the settling of frozen conflicts in the region, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, said at the conference.
"This meeting is a good opportunity to create a favorable environment for the Black Sea region’s countries with frozen conflicts and pave the way for solving those," she said.
Ferrero-Waldner said she is ready to cooperate with the Black Sea countries in regional projects, particularly in the issues of collective security of the region, water resources, as well as fighting against international terrorism.

Below is the complete text of Minister Oskanian’s Speech:
A few months ago we gathered in a similar format, with a similarly broad geographic base, to solidify the potential for cooperation and collaboration offered by the ENP between EU members and other countries.
Our challenge at this meeting is in many ways tougher. Today we want to build on the fact that throughout the Black Sea region, we share history and civilization and values with Europe. This should make it possible therefore to solidify cooperation and collaboration. Our histories overlapped in the centuries when the world was much bigger than it is today. In today’s shrinking world, it is inevitable that our interests too, will overlap. Here then is the opportunity and the challenge: to advance together when those interests coincide, and to avoid confrontation where those interests clash.
It’s interesting that what we call the Black Sea today, in the ancient maps was known as the Inhospitable Sea. Then, only a conscious name change, motivated by a clear intent, transformed it into the Hospitable Sea, as it was known for centuries.
The BSEC philosophy has been to include all those who depend on and benefit from the Black Sea, even when sometimes policies and approaches differ. Still, by bringing even divergent states together, the chances and why not, the obligation, to cooperate multiplies. And the capacity of our members and our organization to act, not just respond; to initiate, not just submit, that capacity grows.
As true as that theory is, it is also true that cooperation within BSEC has not reached optimal levels, that we have not lived up to the Cooperation part of our name. But if we were not able, or willing, to shoot for the greater good for our own sakes, perhaps we can do so through the opportunity of a new role of bridge between Europe and Europe’s neighbors, between our neighbors and Europe.
Therefore, the Black Sea is not just a body of water, but a definition of a potential geopolitical role in a modern world. Before it was the focus of our geopolitical and strategic attention, it was the thoroughfare connecting continents and peoples.
Today’s discussion is about connecting markets and values, institutions and experiences, thus protecting and promoting stability, prosperity, democracy and security of the countries around and near the Black Sea region and thus in and around Europe.
The EU’s individual approach toward member countries and neighborhood countries will be complemented by this regional approach. This too is enlargement of a sort, but enlargement of a vision and of methodology – of working together towards specific objectives for the common good.
Armenia will chair BSEC in the second half of this year, and we look forward to continuing to serve as a bridge between our old neighbors, our neighbors."

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

*

Top