Turkey pushes reforms to Black Sea Economic Cooperation

Turkey would like to see changes in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) to make it a more effective group, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said Sunday.

“Turkey favors reforms to the BSEC. For instance, the chairmanship period should be extended from six months to a year. This would be very useful for the country holding the chair, and the level of attendance at meetings would rise,” Tugrul Turkes told a special BSEC foreign ministers’ meeting in Istanbul.

Turkey is now BSEC chair, and Anadolu Agency is the hosting photo provider for the event.

Mentioning how Istanbul is hosting the BSEC’s 25th anniversary summit this week, Turkes said the group’s foundations were laid during a turbulent time for international politics.

Turkes said the BSEC is seen in the region as an international organization.

“More importantly, the BSEC has come a long way in contributing to peace, democracy, and stability,” he added.

Citing recent technological developments, Turkes stressed that the BSEC must adapt to changing environments, and that its 25th anniversary marks an opportunity for the group to renew itself.

Mentioning the UN’s sustainable development goals, Turkes said that sustainable development has been identified as one of the BSEC’s main themes during Turkey’s term chairmanship.

Other top issues during Turkey’s turn at the helm are foreign trade, small- and medium-sized enterprises, agriculture, finance, banking, energy, education and tourism, he added.

“While preparing the declaration of the summit, which will be approved tomorrow, we put special emphasis on sustainable development, and it has been enriched with the contribution of participants,” Turkes underlined.

– ‘Declaration will be loud and clear’

Also speaking at the event, Ambassador Michael Christides, the BSEC’s secretary general, said, “The declaration will convey a strong and loud message that the BSEC is here, it is adapting to changing circumstances, and it is reacting positively and in a timely way to new challenges.”

He added, “And that it is ready to lead the way to turn our geostrategic region into an area of cooperation, stability and prosperity.”

Christides also said the Council of Foreign Ministers, the BSEC’s highest decision-making organ, will take stock of efforts so far to improve the organization’s effectiveness and sketch a roadmap for the years to come.

The group has 12 members; Turkey, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

Turkey holds the BSEC’s rotating chair this January to June.