Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), Belgrade, December 13, 2016
Mr Secretary General,
I would like to begin by expressing our sincere gratitude to our Serbian friends for their efficiency during the semi-annual BSEC Chairmanship and for their warm welcome and hospitality.
The BSEC, which was established almost 25 years ago, has become an important tool for practical cooperation in the Black Sea region. Our common task is not just to maintain cooperation potential but also to increase it to the benefit of our nations.
Russia as a co-founder of the BSEC has been working consistently towards strengthening and enhancing the mutual efforts of the member states. Our key priority is the settlement of practical issues in the areas set out in the BSEC Charter in the interests of strengthening the competitiveness and complementarity of our economies. With this aim in mind, we have been working energetically in the BSEC’s related and sectoral bodies and affiliated organisations. Our chairmanship was focused on motor vehicle and marine transport, trade and customs cooperation, tourism, healthcare and emergency relief. We greatly appreciate the continuity of our common agenda ensured by the Serbian chairmanship. We hope that Turkey as the next chairmanship-in-office will carry on this tradition.
The upcoming 25th anniversary of the BSEC, which we will mark in 2017, is an opportunity to review the results of our cooperation in various areas and to make plans for the future. We welcome Turkey’s plans regarding the celebrations. It is a very responsible task because the results of our summit meeting held as part of the events should reaffirm our shared willingness to promote cooperation through practical efforts.
For our part, we are ready to contribute to the celebration events held as part of the Turkish chairmanship. We are meeting with the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on organising exhibitions and business presentations in time for the celebrations.
The concerned associations in Russia and Turkey have coordinated their plans for the International Black Sea Yacht Festival next summer. We hope this project will contribute to strengthening mutual understanding and trust between our nations.
Russia proposed several initiatives during its chairmanship to give a fresh impetus to joint practical efforts, including in strengthening the BSEC’s finances. We are grateful to the BSEC’s Permanent International Secretariat and everyone else who supported our initiative for a Project Cooperation Development Mechanism in the Black Sea region. The Russian government has approved $1 million as a one-time voluntary contribution to finance it. This initiative provides for preparing and implementing projects in prospective areas like energy efficiency and green technology, the development of small and medium-sized businesses, the improvement of regional and municipal infrastructure and strengthening export potential.
This mechanism will certainly operate within the BSEC’s fundamental principle, under which mutually beneficial joint projects must not be subject to politicisation and must not create any problems for any BSEC member.
We believe that this initiative will enjoy a demand, especially since the BSEC’s Project Development Fund, which was established in 2002, has exhausted its resources.
In keeping with Rule 9 of the BSEC’s financial rules and regulations, Russia signed a donor agreement with the BSEC Secretariat and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) on November 18 to transfer the above voluntary contribution to the Secretariat. We are drafting an auxiliary regulation to ensure the openness and transparency of the Donor Agreement for the BSEC member states.
Any BSEC country can use the Project Cooperation Development Mechanism to receive funding for projects to promote economic cooperation in the Black Sea region. We hope the Mechanism will become operational by the 25th BSEC anniversary next year. This will be fully in keeping with UN General Assembly Resolution 71/18 of November 21, 2016, in which the international community expressed appreciation for the BSEC’s contribution to the achievement of sustainable development goals, including through the establishment of the Project Cooperation Development Mechanism.
Unfortunately, some BSEC members have tried to politicise this issue and prevent the BSEC from accepting Russia’s voluntary contribution. We do not accept the decision to postpone this issue until the next meeting, taken by the BSEC Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) under these countries’ pressure. According to our financial rules, we must transfer the money by the end of the year. If we don’t, the BSEC will be unable to access this financial assistance.
In light of this, we have formulated a Council of Ministers decision on this issue. I am asking the Secretariat to distribute it.
In conclusion, I would like to again congratulate the Serbian chairmanship on its performance and wish success to the upcoming Turkish chairmanship.