15th Anniversary Summit of BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation) Heads of State
Mr. Mahmood Ayub
United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Turkey
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to begin by thanking His Excellency Minister Abdullah Gul for inviting me to address this important gathering of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
Exactly fifteen years ago today, the Heads of State and Government of eleven countries—joined by a twelfth member a dozen years later—demonstrated the vision and the recognition of global realities that gave birth to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in this beautiful and cosmopolitan city of Istanbul. Those pioneers would have been pleased to know that BSEC has today become a key regional player. A player that provides a forum for economic cooperation extending from the Balkans to the Caucasus, uniting an area of nearly 20 million square kilometers, providing a market of 370 million people, and a gross national income of over 1.5 trillion dollars.
In the process, BSEC has evolved into a dynamic project-oriented organization, with examples of such important activities as the Black Sea Ring Road Project and the Motorways of the Sea Project. These projects herald a culture of concrete cooperation. But they are more than that. They are also surgical instruments to extract the cancer cells of sub-regional tensions among neighbours, which are rather casually referred to “frozen conflicts”.
But the strength of BSEC is not just in improving inter-governmental cooperation. It also promotes other players, such as civil society and the private sector.
In this context, I am proud to refer to the ongoing partnership between BSEC and the United Nations Development Programme, which I represent in Turkey, which goes beyond the government level cooperation and involves the dynamic private sectors of member countries. This project, called the Black Sea Trade and Investment Promotion Programme, is an initiative cofinanced by the Governments of Turkey and Greece, as well as BSEC and UNDP. It endeavours to identify the untapped trade and investment potential in the sub-region, and to put in place mechanisms to exploit this potential.
I am also pleased to inform you that BSEC and UNDP will enter a new phase of strategic partnership later this week with the signature in this very building of an Agreement on Cooperation between Secretary General Ambassador Chrysanthopoulos and the UNDP Administrator, Mr. Kemal Dervis.
Let me end by reaffirming the UNDP’s strong commitment to supporting BSEC in its laudable efforts to develop a harmonious, stable, peaceful, prosperous and friendly neighbourhood.