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The Black Sea Economic Cooperation 

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) has, since its inception, aroused considerable interest both within and outside the region. BSEC aims to ensure that black sea becomes a sea of peace, stability and prosperity based on shared values such as pluralistic democracy, social justice, human rights, rule of law, fundamental freedoms, free market and economic prosperity. These developments become even more important when the current situation in the caucasus and the Balkans is taken into consideration.

During a period in which the whole region is experiencing a dramatic transformation, the establishment of the BSEC has led to the creation of an environment conducive to the initiation of rapid reform towards the development of market economies as the basis for economic recovery and prosperity in the region.

The BSEC is composed of eleven participating states; Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. On 25 June 1992, their heads of state or government signed in Istanbul the summit declaration on the BSEC, thus setting up a regional structure of multilateral cooperation in various fields of economic activity.

The BSEC states representing a region of some 350 million people and a vast territory geographically varied and well endowed with rich natural resources incorporate the basic elements for future development and mutually beneficial cooperation.

With the establishment of the permanent International Secretariat in Istanbul, the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank in Thessaloniki and the BSEC coordination center for the exchange of statistical data and economic information in ankara, the BSEC has created the necessary institutional, financial and analytical instruments for its efficient functioning and for the attainment of the objectives set forth in the summit declaration.

The intergovernmental component of the BSEC has developed a comprehensive multilateral cooperation scheme covering various fields, ranging from banking and finance to exchange of statistical data and economic information, from energy, transport and telecommunications to trade and industry, from agriculture and agro-industry to environmental protection and from tourism to science and technology.

The BSEC principally relies on the inner dynamics of the private sector for its development and diversification. It thus envisages the creation of an environment in which the private sector has priority and a major role to play. In order to perform its function well, the business communities of the BSEC participating states, established in istanbul in december 1992, the BSEC council as their own mechanism for developing proposals, programs and projects in various fields of cooperation. The BSEC council has the observer status in the BSEC.

The foundation of the parliamentary assembly of the BSEC in february 1993 added yet another dimension to the sphere of cooperation of the BSEC enabling now the national parliaments of the participating states to pass legislation needed for the implementation of decisions within the framework of the BSEC.

The cultural and scientific dimension was introduced by signing of the "convention on cultural, scientific and information cooperation between the Black Sea region countries.

The BSEC is concluding its initial phase during which the basis for the organization and structuring of the black sea economic cooperation process has been laid. The second summit meeting of the heads of state or government which was held in bucharest in 30 June 1995, is going to pave the way for the next phase, which will be the identification and implementation of concrete projects, the evaluation and expansion of industry and trade opportunities and the improvement of economic well-being of the peoples of the Black Sea region.

In the meantime, several sub-regional projects are already underway in the field of telecommunications. Just to mention one of them, the project agreement of dokap, which is a combined system of fiber optic terrestrial cable and radio link, has already been signed. The system will connect Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. In addition to the telecommunications projects, a comprehensive transport network is envisaged around the Black Sea.

An important aspect of the BSEC is its flexible and outward oriented nature. The BSEC is both open to and supportive of the cooperation of other interested states through membership or as observers. This also applies to other groups of countries, international organizations and companies wishing to contribute and benefit from this process. It may be worth noting that Austria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Poland, Slovak Republic and Tunisia have asked for and been granted observer status in the BSEC.