KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine takes over the six month chairmanship of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), starting January 1st, 2013. The previous head – Turkey – handed over its duties to the Eastern European country on Sunday, December 15th. During its chairmanship, Ukraine plans to promote economic cooperation between members and strengthen the regional impact of the organization, focusing on infrastructure issues.
According to the minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, Ukraine will focus on the projects of the Black Sea Ring Highway and marine highways (the Motorways of the Sea). “These projects are expected to bring the countries of the region closer together and to have a positive impact on their economies through contributing to the increase of trade and investments,” reads the official press release for the December 15th BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, taking place in Istanbul, Turkey.
Other projects Ukraine plans to facilitate while at the helm of the BSEC include the signing of the plurilateral agreement regarding multimodal shipments and introduction of the direct ferry-railway transportation for cargo. Additionally, Ukraine will deal with issues of trade, transport, energy, science, technology, tourism, environmental protection, and combating organized crime, said Hryshchenko. He stressed the importance of environmental problems evaluation, setting regional goals for sustainable development, as well as solving problems of the nearshore regions and settlements.
The BSEC countries encompass an area of approximately 20 million square kilometers and population of 330 million. The organization includes twelve member countries – Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The latter was one of the eleven founding members of the BSEC, who signed the respective declaration in June of 1992. The BSEC aims to “ensure peace, stability and prosperity encouraging friendly and good-neighbourly relations in the Black Sea region,” states official website for the organization.
In 2011, Ukraine chaired Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE). Throughout the six months of its chairmanship Ukraine followed the objectives of the protection of children’s rights, human rights and the rule of law. Moreover, the country contributed to the strengthening of the European Court of Human Rights and development of local democracy, which would provide citizens with broader opportunities to participate in local decision-making.