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A HotNews.ro analysis

Black Sea as a regional priority hub

de     HotNews.ro
Luni, 15 ianuarie 2007, 0:00

Map: mytravelguide.com

Romanian President Traian Basescu would like to change it into a “Mediterranean of the East”. The Foreign Ministry in Bucharest placed it on its list of top priorities. The European Union does not have a defined policy in its regard, but European media bring it more often to public debate. The Black Sea is becoming into a major issue for Romania’s international stand.

While the Black Sea area is far from resempling the Atlantic area of collective security, the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU is expected to boost the interest of member states towards this region, which would involve a series of processes aimed at the development and strengthening of the regional economies. But how viable is the project?

“The project is fully viable given that the Black Sea is a transit hub for energy routes from Central Asia to Western Europe. And the value of the area increased as the number of NATO and EU member countries bordering it brew with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria.

However, the financial and political resources in the eastern area of the Black Sea do not allow for that fast a development process as Romania would like to see”, analyst Radu Tudor told HotNews.ro.

“The European Union will have to tackle with the Black Sea as a direct political, economic and security area. Now, the Black Sea neighbors the EU thanks to littoral countries”, Tudor says.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde in late December, President Basescu made an evaluation of the Black Sea situation as it becomes a border region for the EU.

“The Black Sea is a foggy area. It harbors three types of traffic - drug trafficking from Asian countries to Western Europe, human trafficking from ex-Soviet countries to the EU, and arms trafficking. Still, the highly insecure area will become part of the eastern borders of the EU and NATO”, he said.

He argued that “Romania will not be able to solve all the frozen conflicts in South ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdniestr and Nagorno Karabakh by itself” as “these conflicts may be reopened anytime and pose a major threat to the stability of Europe”.

That is why “only the common political will of the EU, the US, Russia and Turkey may solve this problem. What we do is only to send a warning about the urgency to calm down these hotbeds of conflict”, he said.

Analysts in Romania believe a deal between major world powers - the EU, the US, Russia - along with Turkey is the only solution to solve the fronzen conflicts of the region.

“Turkey and Russia are rivaling positions towards Romania and Bulgaria when it comes to use the increasing strategic value of the Black Sea basin; the US offers the strongest support for our initiatives in the area.

While Turkey is a NATO member, its national interests dominate its political agenda related to its obligations toward other allies such as Romania and Bulgaria”, Radu Tudor believes.

“And there remains a difficult taks for our country: to bring the Black Sea on the main agenda of the EU. The Union reacts slowly to security initiatives and does not have a practiced experience about its own security and defence policy - the ESDP”, he says.

The Black Sea starts making waves
The Black Sea region, however, is returning to the agenda of international organizations once Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union.

The EU presented its new political strategies regarding the integration of the Black Sea in the European maritime space in summer 2006. A European Commission document speaks of the creation of a common policy on maritime and coastal areas starting 2008.

Romania was urged to launch a process of domestic analysis to identify the Black Sea-related national priorities in the context.

And the European Commission believes the maritime policy should stimulate economic, social and environmental development in line with the existing strategies of the EU, such as the Lisbon Agenda.

An area of NATO interest
Under the pressure of political and military events in the region, the Black Sea has become a complicated crossroads for geopolical and geo-economic borders.

A recent report of the Heritage Foundation, the US think-tank, says the United States must promote a cautious, balanced and realistic strategy to contribute to the security and stability of the Black Sea basin.

The documents recommends the Bush administration to start talks with authorities in Bucharest and Sofia to cool down concerns expressed by Turkey that US bases in Romania and Bulgaria may threaten its dominant position in the region.

The HF report also tackles the energy problem, saying that the Black Sea is an importanc component for the transport of energy from the Middle East and Central Asia to Europe.

Radu Tudor believes “NATO is interested in transforming the Black Sea into a platform of stronger security and the US have a major role in this regard... Establishing American bases on the Black Sea coast in Romania and Bulgaria would open other perspectives for the Black Sea in the coming five years”.
























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