On November 1, the Republic of Armenia assumed the chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. The six month rotating chairmanship, set to end in April 2009, will see Armenia focusing on several issues, primarily dealing with energy cooperation between the BSEC member countries.
In that capacity, the Armenian Chairmanship will draft a BSEC-EU Policy on energy cooperation in the Black Sea region and development of legal mechanisms to facilitate purpose-oriented activities to that end. Also on the agenda is a thorough reworking of the bureaucratic and practical difficulties met in the projects undertaken by the BSEC.
As the BSEC Chairman-in-Office Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian will work to promote interaction between the regional organization and international bodies such as the United Nations regional offices for economic development, the World Health Organization, the European Union, etc.
Nalbandian has committed to improving the efficiency and credibility of the BSEC by raising the effectiveness of its decision-making mechanisms to ensure the successful and rapid implementation of its Action Plans. He has also set out to strengthen communication between member-states, one of which is Turkey.
Asbarez’s Thora Giallouri interviewed the Secretary General of the BSEC, Ambassador Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, to discuss the BSEC, the Armenian Chairmanship, and the challenges facing the Black Sea region.
Amb. Chrysanthopoulos was the first Greek ambassador to post-soviet Armenia, serving from 1993-1994–the final year of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Armenian Diaspora first got to know more about the Ambassador with the publication the English and Armenian translations of his book “The Caucasus Chronicles,” which was a vivid and exciting account of his experiences in Armenia and Karabakh. In the book, Amb. Chrysanthopoulos discussed the challenges he faced and painted an eloquent picture of the social and political condition in the newly independent Republic of Armenia. In 2006, Amb. Chrysanthopoulos assumed the position of General Secretary of BSEC and moved from Athens, Greece to Istanbul where he resides and works ever since.
Thora Giallouri: How do you envision Armenia’s future within the BSEC framework? What initiatives has the Armenian state taken so far?
T.G.: What do you want to accomplish through a BSEC-EU partnership? How will this affect the Black Sea states? How will it affect Armenia in particular?
T.G.: Talk about your experience so far as the General Secretary of BSEC.
T.G.: You mentioned specific projects and the Black Sea Ring Highway, to which Armenia is a partner. Such a transport corridor requires support structures in the areas through which it will pass. From this perspective, does the Black Sea Ring Highway promote the development of communities along its route?
T.G.: What are your thoughts on Armenia’s progress since the time you were there? In what terms is it satisfying and what has there been lack of?
T.G.: In your perspective, which do you think are the most serious “threats” for Armenia today?
T.G.: As General Secretary of the BSEC, how would you describe your cooperation with Armenian delegates today?
T.G.: With all that is happening in the Caucasus today (in terms of regional conflicts, struggle for influence from the outside, the global economic momentum, etc.) what do you think the future holds for the Caucasus states? What is it that you are most afraid of and what is it that makes you hopeful? What do you consider will affect the Caucasus states relations the most?
About the BSEC
On June 25 1992, the Heads of State and Government of eleven countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine signed in Istanbul the Summit Declaration and the Bosporus Statement giving birth to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).
It came into existence as a unique and promising model for a multilateral political and economic initiative aimed at fostering interaction and harmony among the Member States, as well as to ensure peace, stability and prosperity, and encourage friendly and good-neighborly relations in the Black Sea Region.
The BSEC Headquarters – the Permanent International Secretariat of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC PERMIS) – was established in March 1994 in Istanbul. With the entry into force of its Charter on 1 May 1999, BSEC acquired international legal identity and was transformed into a full-fledged regional economic organization: Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. With the accession of Serbia and Montenegro in April 2004, the Organization’s Member States increased to twelve.
About the BSEC Region
– BSEC covers a geography encompassing the territories of the Black Sea littoral States, the Balkans and the Caucasus with an area of nearly 20 million square kilometers. The BSEC region is located on two continents;
– BSEC represents a region of some 350 million people with a foreign trade capacity of over USD 300 billion annually;
– After the Persian Gulf region, it is the second-largest source of oil and natural gas along with its rich proven reserves of minerals and metals;
– It is becoming Europe’s major transport and energy transfer corridor.
From the BSEC website: www.bsec-organization.org