Black Sea Synergy: progress and prospects

realizat pentru Masa Rotunda din Praga, organizata de Asociatia pentru Relatii Internationale de la Praga: „Black Sea Sinergy: „Eastern Barcelona Process” or „Southern Northern Dimension” ? „ 

At the continental scale, the initiative of Black Sea Synergy (launched in April 2007) represents an endeavor that includes a lot of partnerships, projects and programs already functional in the Black Sea zone (ENP, BSEC, Baku Process, DABLAS etc.). It brings together such states as Turkey, Russia and countries envisaged in European Neighborhood Policy, creating a framework for dialogue between candidate state for EU membership, states looking for Association and Stabilisation Agreement (Eastern Europe, including Caucasus) and applicant for deep Strategic Partnership with European Union (Russia). In this context, there was foreseen that Black Sea Synergy will address troubles. The conflict in Caucasus clearly showed the relevance of this prognosis.

The European Parliament revealed a kind of anxiety before the events in Georgia within its Report on the Black Sea Synergy[1], considering that EU (Commission) have to draw its attention to a small set of priorities instead of the large spread of efforts, as well as reduplication of functions. This report sketched out the stringent need for cohesion, well-targeted actions and result-oriented policy approach which will enable the Black Sea dimension. Also the European Parliament pointed out the considerable role of the Romania, Bulgaria and Greece to enhance the cooperation in the region. In result, EU is not able to be a competitive player in the Black Sea region, losing its position in favor of Russian Federation that recently stressed out its rights for the regions of its privilege (referring to post-soviet space).

 

The involvement of the Republic of Moldova in this cooperation tool is not quite visible. It could be the direct consequences of the puzzle characteristics of the Black Sea Synergy, as well as a result of the communication deficiency within national governmental reports, local mass-media ignorance or gaps of information. Furthermore, Black Sea Synergy is absent in the National Security Concept of the Republic of Moldova, adopted in spring 2008. Thus, the development of the Black Sea Synergy can be perceived only through the progress within European Neighborhood Policy on Republic of Moldova. The most significant successes were registered in spheres like management the movement (in May 2008 was signed the Partnership for Mobility by EU and R. of Moldova, the platform of this program was established on 24 September 2008, in Chisinau); cross-border cooperation (this year was approved by the European Commission the Romania-Moldova-Ukraine which will provide financial support for local stakeholders connections, project realization etc.); trade (the Autonomous Preferences Trade are available to Moldova since March 2008); conflict resolution (the activity of the European Border Assistance Mission for Moldova and Ukraine was prolonged untill 2009). Nevertheless, such domains as democracy and human rights were practically absent from the political agenda of the Moldovan authorities (this question was raised by European official not only in Brussels, but also in Chisinau). This situation influenced the delaying of the negotiations on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between EU and R. of Moldova (the conditions stressed by European institutions and officials were linked to the real progress in the democracy, human rights, freedom of express fields etc.). Even if the conflict in Eastern rayons of Moldova is monitored by European Mission, this one is too minor in order to contribute to the effective solution of the problem. In the same time, European representatives in Chisinau are incapable to improve the discursions between Chisinau and Tiraspol, as a cause of the Russian dominance of the negotiations process. The Black Sea Synergy initiative showed its weakness in transport, energy, environment sectors (the growing European dependence of Russian fuels and political pressure on the new democracies in the proximity of Russia, environment disasters are not adequately tackled by the EU that is focused more on the aid financing than disasters preventions and management etc., the example of current summer floods and last year draught).
 

During this period Black Sea Synergy established valuable ties with Black Sea Economic Organization (BSEC), and was more reticent to GUAM. In first case, EU tried to attach all Black Sea countries using the institutions existing within BSEC. GUAM is a smaller organization that is detested by Moscow for its pro-occidental (NATO promoting) aspirations and the tendency to disseminate the values of “colored revolutions” through the post-soviet regions. Of course the BSEC is important for EU and its policy in Black Sea due to its economic, transport, energy etc. potential, but simultaneously, Brussels must move towards pro-west political trend adopted by Georgia and Ukraine in order to extend the democracy beyond and around the Black Sea (Community of Democratic Choice, transformative regionalism). Moreover, EU must reflect about the geo-political presence increasing in region that connects Europe to Caspian Sea and Central Asia sources of oil and gas. Georgia and Ukraine are important not only for their faithfulness to democracy, NATO and “colored revolutions” values, but also for their fuel transporting capacity. Eastern Europe Partnership will be a real challenge for EU and its Black Sea Synergy. First of all, it will compete with BSEC, CIS and other organizations where Russia is leading. Secondly, it is already considered as a species of compensatory regionalism for those Eastern European countries that are looking for European membership. The ambiguity of the Black Sea Synergy along with the fears that Partnership consists of could create difficulties for EU penetration in Eastern Europe.  
    

Czech presidency of the EU in 2009 should take in consideration the following issues:
-Russian influence and pressure on the Eastern Europe and ways to decrease it by means of European integration, ENP, Eastern Partnership and Black Sea Synergy;

– ensuring a legal European framework for energy production, transport and transit as sooner as possible;

–  attaching the Caucasus in development and stability program in order to secure the energy supplying and production, and to build equal conditions and fair rules for all Black Sea stakeholders instead of Russian tentative to submit the region to its prerogative;

– developing frozen conflict mechanism of resolution within Black Sea Synergy, involving EU and EU members and ENP states from Black Sea region (in condition of  parity could be invited Russia), like Romania, Ukraine, Turkey etc.;

– enabling civil society in ENP countries through regional civil structures of communication, twinning, cooperation etc., keeping alive and promoting the democracy and human rights in all Black Sea states and in its proximity;

– making connections bolder and deeper between further Eastern Partnership and today Black Sea Synergy, even to focus Black Sea Synergy on the development and consolidation of the Partnership as a prior (geo-political regionalism plus transformative, security, but not compensatory);

– involving societal security issue in the EU political agenda of the Neighborhood Policy and bilateral agreement with states belonged to the Eastern European.

 

All these actions should be carried on the basis of the bottom principles:

 

–         humanization of the europenization process (bringing the European wealthy and opportunities closer to the people, improving the communication to people );

–         conditionality of the relationship between the EU and countries from the ENP;

– promoting and advancing of the “colored revolution” achievements ahead on the Eastern Europe.
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[1] Report on the first year of implementation of the Black Sea Synergy, Communication from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament, COM (2008)391 final

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