BLACK SEA BASIN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES
(A Background and July -
September 1999 Issue in Brief)
Hard Copy: ISSN 1311 3259
ISN SPONSORED QUARTERLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
BACKGROUND OF THE BLACK SEA BASIN: SOURCES OF CONFLICT
1. The Conflicting Models of Integration in
the Northern Caucasus
2. The Competitive Interests Over the Oil
and the Gas Pipelines from Russia and the Caspian Region to the World
AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA
1. The Northern Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan,
Northern Ossetia, Karachaevo-Cherkessia)
2. Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
3. The Intensification of the Lezgin
Separatist Movement in Azerbaijan
4. The Abkhazian Conflict
5. The Transdniestria Conflict
6. The Kurdish Issue in Turkey
NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS
BILATERAL AND THE MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BLACK SEA REGION
1. Bilateral Contacts
2. Multilateral Relations
STATE OF REGIONAL INITIATIVES
1. The Economic Situation in the Countries of the
Black Sea Region and Its Consequences on the Black Sea Cooperation
2. Political and Security Aspects of
(STATES AND INSTITUTIONS) INFLUENCING THE BLACK SEA REGION
SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES: CONCLUSIONS
The July-September 1999 period in the developments of the countries of the
Black Sea basin continued the tendency of reviving the conflicts in the
Transcaucasus. The clashes between the Chechen separatists and the Federal
forces of Russia enlarged their territory. The marks of Islamic fundamentalist
terrorism and the shadow of one of its leaders – Osama bin Laden, could be
seen in the bombings and killings of innocent civilians in Buinaksk (Dagestan),
Moscow and Volgodonsk (Rostov oblast). The devastating earthquake in Turkey of
17 August 1999 put on the move also major regional political relationships and
increased the hopes for an acceptable for the international community turn of
the Kurdish question inside the country. The drive of some New Independent
States to European and Atlantic integration was further demonstrated . The
motivation of their leaders is the expectation of the acquisition of a larger
package of economic, infrastructure and political modernisation by their
Two sources of real and potential conflicts were especially actual in this
The conflicts and various other problems throughout the 90s, including of the
last twelve weeks are a curious repetition of a similar problem of the 18th
century of imperial Russia – how to integrate the people of the Northern
Caucasus into Russian society. The clue to finding the answer to this question
two centuries ago was the old Roman principle of "Divide and Rule".
For too many years the Russian political leaders of today have been trying (with
very few exceptions) to exploit this same approach to the issues of the Northern
Caucasus. However, the effect is rather counterproductive for the Russian
interests and for the stability of the entire region.
The people of this region have been for several decades part of an integrated
economically, socially and politically society. The abdication of the central
federal authorities from playing the role of the integrative factor – in
conceptual, political, economic and social terms, called in an anarchic way the
process of integration of the people of the Northern Caucasus. There are many
real factors that drive this process: the small area of the region populated by
many ethnic, religious and language communities that need an encompassing
economic activity and relations; the historic linkages of the various
communities; the vital need to survive economically and the incapacity to carry
out this task individually. Most acute are the issues of employment in an
environment of low-qualified in professional terms working force; a mostly
agrarian orientation of the regional economy and a deficit of a fertile for
agrarian activity land.
After the loss of the war in Chechnya by the Russian Federation an
anti-Russian, Chechen-based integration nucleus evolved. The initial ambitions
of this integration centre was just the differentiation of the Caucasian people
from Russia. Gradually Chechnya assumed the role of the leading consolidating
factor of these people from the Russian Federation. The rising appetite drew the
Chechen separatists to their role of active participants in the regulation (and
instigation in many cases) of conflicts, tensions, animosities and issues in the
area. The Dagestan and the Ossetia-Ingushetia cases are the latest examples of
this strategy. However, all these roles are just steps in the direction of
solidifying the anti-Russian (anti-federal) integration centre and establishing
an anti-Christian, anti-modern Moslem, Wahhabite, Great Ichkeria, stretching
territorially from the Caspian to the Black Sea.
Unlike a similar situation in the 20s of this century the external factor
that is involved openly by the separatists is not a local or world great power,
but the most repugnant brand of contemporary international terrorism – the
extreme Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden, his money and mujaheddin organisation.
The second contending integration nucleus, the Russian Federal one, has
chosen to cope by violent force with the mounting aggressiveness of the
separatist Chechen forces and their followers from within and outside the region
and the country. A total blockade of Chechnya by Russia and a combined military
operation of the ground and air forces are the most distinctive features of the
present approach of Moscow to bringing this region back to its integrated state.
The issue of the world-wide wanted billionaire-terrorist, Osama bin Laden and
his involvement in the Northern Caucasus has brought closer in cooperation
Moscow, Washington and other world leading capitals and their allies. The US FBI
has pledged to provide practical support in fighting international terrorists.
But even if the second most powerful nuclear power of the world succeeds
militarily in fighting the strong men of Chechnya it is doomed to lose
politically if a comprehensive economic, social and cultural strategy is not
implemented to the Northern Caucasus and the different peoples who inhabit the
The prospects for a clash of interests and for reaching compromise for the
mutual benefit of the actors involved remain open options.
On 17 August 1999 the US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said his country
will further cooperate with Turkey on the next steps of the Baku-Ceyhan oil
pipe-line to which the United States are firmly committed. Turkey and Azerbaijan
discussed in the last week of August 1999 in Washington, D. C. the financing for
The Energy Secretary said that regarding the Trans-Caspian natural gas
pipeline the USA strongly supports its construction because it represents
important regional cooperation among Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and
Turkey. Earlier, on 6 August 1999 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, three significant
agreements on the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline were signed. The agreements
establish a partnership between the Government of Turkmenistan and the pipeline’s
developers – PSG and Royal Dutch Shell. They also lay the commercial and legal
foundation for the pipeline within Turkmenistan and open the way for the next
round of discussions on this project, which will include the Governments of
Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, as well as PSG and Royal Dutch
Shell. The United States conceive these developments as a cornerstone of the
construction of the East-West energy transit corridor. Alongside with fostering
cooperation among the new states of Central Asia and the Caucasus the project
will bolster their independence and prosperity, strengthen their integration
with Europe via Turkey, enhance the energy security of the United States and the
American allies and create business opportunities for companies from the USA and
The competing conception about the development of the oil and gas routes from
Central Asia and the Caspian Sea basin is shared by Russia. In the third week of
August 1999 the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a declaration which blames the
United States of blocking big foreign-economic projects of the Russian
Federation. Russian analyses link the oil and gas issue of the Caspian region
with the conflicts in Northern Caucasus, mainly the recently escalated one in
Dagestan. Russian experts find a relationship between the oil/gas and the ethnic
conflict issues with the religious influences from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the
UAE, Iran etc.
There are also economic arguments that further complicate the perception of
the dominating concepts about the region. First, the newly found natural gas in
the off-shore zone of Azerbaijan may turn this country into a competitor of the
Turkmeni gas at the Western markets and compromise the encompassing US concept
of the progress of the region through the cooperation of the neighbouring
countries and outside partners. Second, the transportation of the Kazakh oil
from Tengiz to Novorossiysk is the only real and viable project of
transportation that makes a strong case for the powerful Russian participation
in the distribution and directing the routes of the oil and gas from the area.
Definitely, isolating Russia and Iran is a working concept about the mixed
geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic issues of the Black Sea-Caspian
region. However, Turkey, a key factor in most of the complex equations has also
a definite interest of balancing its relations with both Russia and Iran.
Shouldn’t the concepts and policies about the oil and gas energy projects
consider more options that would not antagonise but bring-in both Russia and
Iran into the East-West energy and transport corridor, and hence, into the
democracy-building evolution of this area?
The July-September 1999 period that was monitored was characterised by the
escalation and the broadening of major conflicts in this area and by the further
complicating or efforts of regulating of others:
The growing tensions, the terrorist acts of the previous months and a growing
need of Moscow to prove it has a policy in this area led to the escalation of
the military confrontation of the opposing and most armed forces. The territory
of the various conflicts marked a clear tendency of merging, reminding the
stakes of the Russian Federation in this region are high and the expectations
from a comprehensive political and economic treatment of the Northern Caucasus
by Russia are great after the firm military engagement of the federal army and
security forces. The dramatic catalyst of the events is hard to point precisely:
the strike against Chechen separatists on the Chechen-Dagestan border on 5 July
1999; or the death of the brother of the Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev;
the death of peaceful villagers in the region after the raids of Russian Air
Force against terrorists who were based among the civilians; or, probably, after
the start of a terror campaign against innocent Russian citizens in different
cities of the Federation, including the capital Moscow.
A closer analysis of the situation in the last three months shows that the
Russian Federal Government and especially the armed and the security forces were
in a process of preparation for a broader military campaign in Chechnya – the
core and most militant dissident among the different autonomous units with
separatist tendencies of the Federation in the Northern Caucasus. From the
beginning of July 1999 the Central Russian TV station started an information
campaign of preparing the people for violent opposition of the Chechen cruelties.
A military victory is becoming a needed part of the election campaigns and a
step-stone in overcoming the psychological blow of the humiliation suffered by
the Russian armed forces in the 1994-96 Chechen war. The economic, especially
the energy – oil and gasoline, pressure over Chechnya by Russia simply through
by-passing Chechen territory in the transportation of Russian oil-products (
thus depriving the local people from stealing but also losing from making
dysfunctional the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline through Chechnya) marked a next
step in preparing for a greater pressure. Soon after that 17,000 troops of the
Russian Interior Ministry were stationed along the borders with Chechnya in the
end of July 1999. It was leaked in the Russian press in the beginning of
September 1999 that the Russian General Staff has planned an operation of
entering Chechnya and taking hold of the Northern part of the separatist entity,
thus making the Chechens fight inside and outside – in Dagestan. On 21
September 1999 was built a sanitary cordon around Chechnya by the Russian armed
and security forces under the command of Gen. Vladimir Shamanov. Part of the
Russian Marine Special Forces were dispatched in the Northern Caucasus; the
Russian intelligence, counter-intelligence and the Air-Force intensified their
activity in countering the Chechen terrorist campaign.
The chain of events that either preceded or developed in parallel with the
Russian military preparation included terrorist bombings organised by the
Chechen field commander, the Jordanian Khattab in Vladikavkaz, Northern Ossetia.
This republic is included in the plans of creating a big Islamic state from the
Caspian to the Black Sea with the Chechen war-lords and Wahhabites at the head.
Exploiting internal ethnic (between Ossetians and Ingushetians), social and
economic tensions, the complicated relationship with the brethren in Southern
Ossetia (an autonomous part of sovereign Georgia) the ambitious geopolitical
designers Basaev, Khattab and their mentor – Osama bin Laden, polarise the
internal situation to the point when Islamic fundamentalist amalgamation would
remain the only option for the republic which is part of the sovereign Russian
Tensions evolved throughout August and September 1999 in the neighbouring
Karachaevo-Cherkessia autonomous area. The causes were the traditional ethnic
tensions between Karachaevs (33% of the population) and the Cherkes (10%); an
undemocratic election campaign for the Head of the area, protests after the
elections and poorly managed politically Russian involvement for regulating the
situation. One may easily predict good opportunities for bringing in this
territory in the larger conflict of the Northern Caucasus.
However, the most dramatic developments that led to the encirclement of
Chechnya and reaching the edge of a more intensive local war with broader
consequences were in Dagestan. The escalation of the internal situation started
one year ago after the killing of the Muslim religious leader of Dagestan and
the shift in the relations among the Moslem population of the autonomous Russian
republic. Wahhabism and its Chechen separatist followers began their fight for
enlarging the territory of their future "Great Ichkeria" by taking in
Dagestan and gaining an outlet to the Caspian Sea shore. But Dagestan is both a
part of Russia and one of the Russian springboards in the South, to the Caucasus.
It is also a territory through which passes the route of Caspian oil to
Novorossiysk – the largest oil exporting terminal in the Black Sea region.
This terminal serves the transportation also of Kazakh and Azeri oil to the
world markets. On 7 August 1999 a Wahhabite group from Chechnya under command of
Shamil Basaev and Jordanian-born (married to a Dagestani woman) ‘commander
Khattab’ occupied/liberated four mountain villages in Dagestan, the Botlikh
region. The Russian counter-operation restored the sovereignty of the territory
and brought to an end the existence of "independent Muslim state of
Dagestan", its Islamic judicial organisation and the jihad that was
declared to non-Moslems. The Chechen aggression did not meet the popular support
it has expected. After re-organising their forces the Wahhabites of Chechnya and
throughout the Moslem world started on 5 September 1999 the next phase of their
campaign for pushing the Russians out of the Northern Caucasus. 2,000
mujaheddins attacked Dagestan from Chechnya. This act was accompanied by the
launch of bomb-terror operation in Buinaksk, Moscow, Volgodonsk killing more
than 300 innocent civilians in their apartments while sleeping in the night.
Several other targets in different Russian cities have been saved after planned
acts of the counter-terrorist services of the Federal Government or just
accidentally by vigilant and traumatised psychologically civilians.
The Russian Government succeeded to gain the international support in
fighting "international terrorism". The US President, Secretary of
State, Secretary of Defence and the Director of FBI have already extended their
support and readiness to work together with Russia for protecting democracy and
human rights against terrorists (including Osama bin Laden, chased for $5 mil.
reward world-wide by the US law enforcement authorities). Russia has keenly
avoided accusations of waging ‘ethnic war’ in the North Caucasus by carrying
an information campaign inside Russia and internationally. Russia is careful of
the reactions of some 18% of its population which is of Moslem confession. China
and Japan also extended some support in what Russia is doing in the Caucasus.
The UK, French and Israel’s secrete services also are cooperating in blocking
the acts of terror in Russia. Interpol is already tracing 18 leaders of the
terrorist activities in the Northern Caucasus. The visit of the Russian Foreign
Minister in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the first days of September 1999
very probably will cause a change of policy in the region. The Russian call is
for joining ranks in the fight against international terrorism. The missing
stability is directly influencing in a most negative way the suffering economies
of the three traditional Caucasian states.
Russian bombing of Chechen capital Grozni, the military blockade of the
dissident republic, the thesis Chechnya and Chechen outlaws have concentrated
financial and military power that serves already the most dangerous wings of
Islamic fundamental terrorism, the new mood of solidarity in Russian society
compared only to the Russian attitudes during World War II, the international
support Russia acquired show that this conflict has entered a most decisive
phase. It bears many similarities with the NATO campaign against FRY earlier
this year. More than 1,700 sorties have been carried out by the Russian Air
Force against targets in Chechnya and Dagestan. The Russian diplomacy was backed
by the military. The challenges ahead are the effectiveness of the Russian
military machine and the economic, political and the organisational potential of
Moscow to bring back to social and economic vitality the region of the Northern
In the third week of August 1999 the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia,
Geydar Aliev and Robert Kocharian held a meeting and agreed to strengthen their
mutual security along their common borders. They also agreed their negotiations
will continue. Finding a political solution to the bilateral issues, an
up-coming meeting between the Defence Ministries of the two states to find
solution to ending attacks on each other and the understanding of the need for
compromise on both sides were the results of the negotiations.
The Nagorno-Karbakh region of Azerbaijan, populated mostly by ethnic
Armenians separated from Azerbaijan in 1988. The military conflict that followed
and which continued for 6 years led to 35,000 killed on both sides and 1 mil.
Azeris were left homeless.
On 11 August 1999 the National Security Ministry announced unspecified
additional security measures on the border with Dagestan. This comes after
accusations that the Lezgin separatist movement Sadval is exploiting the
destabilised situation in neighbouring Dagestan for intensifying its activity in
The movement is aiming at the creation of an independent Lezgin state that
would unite Lezgins who live on both sides of the Dagestan-Azerbaijan border.
The leader of the separatist movement, Nasyr Primov was arrested in Southern
Dagestan in July 1999. The dramatic events in Dagestan endanger spreading to the
south. This logically may lead to cutting the northern trans-Dagestan and the
trans-Chechnya oil pipe-lines – a development that puts on ends the Western
investors in Caspian oil processing and transportation. The political reaction
of the governments of the countries from the Southern Caucasus is speedily
evolving into a new policy of relations with Russia in an effort to prevent the
creation of an Islamic terrorist state in the Northern Caucasus.
On 30 August 1999 the President of Georgia, Edward Shevardnadze urged Russian
peacekeepers to expand a zone they supervise in the breakaway province of
Abkhazia. Russian troops have been patrolling a narrow stretch between Georgia
and Abkhazia since 1994, after Abkhazian separatists drove Georgian government
For years President Shevardnadze has been demanding the Russian forces go
deeper in the region to facilitate the return of some 300,000 Georgian refugees.
He even threatened, however with no effect to ban the Russian troops from the
region if they refused. The Georgian leadership prefers to avoid the risks, says
President Shevardnadze. "Georgia has no choice but to extend the
peacekeepers’ mandate", added the President.
Both Abkhazians and Russians have previously hesitated to expand the buffer
zone in the restive Ghali region, and Georgia has often accused Moscow of siding
with the separatists. The situation may further worsen in light of the up-coming
"presidential elections" in Abkhazia on 3 October 1999 – an act
Georgia firmly opposes.
In the second week of July 1999 the President of Moldova Petru Luchinski met
Igor Smirnov, the leader of the separatist Transdniestria (Pridniestrovskaya)
republic. They reached no agreement on the status of the dissident territory.
Moldova insists Transdniestria is part of the sovereign state though it may be
granted some autonomy. Pridniestrovskaya republic claims to establish a
federation of two independent states.
The conflict further escalated after it became clear that Ukraine is not
ready to encourage the Russian policy pressure on Moldova and is even ready to
form regional combined peacekeeping forces with Moldova and eventually with
Romania to regulate the stability in Transdniestria. Ukraine will not allow the
retreat of the Russian forces through its territory without the consent of
Moldova. The counter-measure of the dissident republic was to cut the flow of
electricity for Moldova with 40% leaving 70% of the capital in the dark. It
would become too dangerous if the polarisation mounts to the formation of two
opposing blocs: Transdniestria and Russia, on one side, and Moldova, Ukraine and
Romania, on the other.
Meantime, in an effort to stimulate the peaceful regulation of the conflict,
in the last week of 1999 the US Congress adopted a resolution for extending $ 30
mil. of aid for the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the Transdniestria
The PKK Kurdish leader A. Ocalan called on his followers in the first days of
August 1999 to stop the terrorist activities and leave Turkey starting from 1
September 1999. Obviously the unnamed country to which PKK could go is Northern
Iraq. The two Kurdish parties in Northern Iraq – the KDP and PUK, have
committed themselves to the territorial integrity of Iraq and to preventing the
PKK from operating in northern Iraq.
The USA does not support the formation of a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq
and continues to designate the PKK a foreign terrorist organisation under the
1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
The new mood of historical and political reconciliation that the solidarity
and mutual sympathy to the victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and
Greece unlocked and inspired lends an excellent opportunity of approaching in a
new and fresh way the contentious Kurdish question. This holds true for Turkey
and the Turkish policy-makers, for the neighbours and the allies of Turkey. It
is crucial what attitude Russia, the EU and the USA will take in encouraging the
Turkish Government find a satisfactory solution of this painful issue – a
solution that may further change in a favourable way the tides concerning the
application for EU membership.
On 15-16 September 1999 the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev,
visited Bulgaria and declared the wish of his country to transport the Kazakh
oil through the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Bourgas from the Russian Black Sea
port of Novorossiysk. Kazakhstan is ready to cooperate in the construction of
the TRACECA transport corridor from Asia to Europe.
On 20 September 1999 at an international conference in Bucharest – "The
Caspian energy – for Europe", Romania declared its interest the route of
the oil to Europe to pass through its territory and the Romanian port of
Constanza turns into a key transit centre. Romania has suggested two projects of
oil transportation between Constanza and Triest. An Italian and an American
private companies have been involved in these projects.
(1) On 9 August 1999 the Russian President Yeltsin dismissed premier Sergei
Stepashin and appointed in his place Vladimir Putin, head of the Federal
Security Council. This was the fourth change of Russian prime ministers in less
than 18 months . (2) Russia plunged into a huge scandal of money-laundering that
involves the highest levels of power and has major internal and international
repercussions on the eve of the parliamentary elections. According to GOP of the
end of August 1999 47% of the Russians think the transition to market economy is
positive and 39% consider it a blunder or even a crime. 65% of the people insist
on re-distributing the national wealth of the country and on punishing those who
committed crimes. Meantime the Paris Club of the creditors of the former USSR
reached an agreement in the last days of July 1999 with Russia to re-schedule
the country’s debt of $ 8,3 billion. Instead of paying back $ 8 bil. this and
the next year, Russia was allowed to return only $ 600 million. By the end of
2000 Russia is expected to receive a credit from Japan worth of $ 1,1 billion.
For the same period Russia will get $ 1,2 billion from the World Bank. A credit
of more than $ 0,5 billion by the end of 1999 was agreed with the IMF. (3)
Russia activated its foreign policy: the French Prime-Minister was the first
high-level statesman to visit Moscow after the Kosovo conflict in the beginning
of July 1999. Russia participated in the meeting of the five Asian neighbours in
the last week of August 1999 in Bishkek, Kirgistan – Russia, China, Kazakhstan,
Tadjikistan and Kirgistan. The perspective aims of this group of countries is to
evolve into a broader Asian system of security – if it can do it. Russia also
realised two important meetings with the new leadership of Israel and with the
leaders of Syria, reminding of its continuing role in the Middle East. Most
importantly, Russia renewed its active relationship with the United States,
shaping its position of a major and respected country by the dominant USA.
Despite the new, post-Cold War level of relationship of the two countries it has
a crucial impact on the preservation of the Russian stability during the country’s
transition to democracy and market economy. The new cooperation in fighting
international terrorism will improve the climate of solving the nuclear
reduction and the new missile defence issues in the bilateral relations. The US
support of Russian institutions during the money-laundering scandal in Russia is
serving the preservation of Russia’s stability and indirectly – American
interests by keeping the global nuclear stability. (4) Russia is facing a most
difficult period since the beginning of the 90s with a major issue: will its
weakness prove to be dangerously provocative for its rivals. For example, it
became obvious Russia has not developed yet sophisticated means of responding to
terrorist campaigns. It also became clear that Russia’s defence lacks timely
and reliable intelligence and security services – after several rounds of
reforms, cuts, rotations and political appointments. The problem is that Russia’s
weakness is dangerous for many smaller countries in the neighbourhood as well as
for Europe. The military campaign in the Northern Caucasus will be a test-case
with long-term consequences for the future of Russia, the security in the area
and for the international relations in the beginning of the 21st century.
The devastating earthquake of 17 August 1999 had a major humanitarian and
political impact in the internal Turkish developments and significant shifts in
the country’s foreign policy. The challenge to overcome the dramatic losses
and to keep the programme for developing the Turkish economy, society and state
in the next century may be solved with major external support and a creative
approach inside this key strategic country.
In the third week of July 1999 the visit of the then Russian Prime-Minister
Sergei Stepashin to Kiev confirmed the economic need of Ukraine to preserve its
"strategic partnership" with Russia while insisting on the country’s
independence (from Moscow) and neutral status.
In the beginning of July 1999 the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a resolution
calling on the UN and the CE to prevent the execution of the death penalty in
Turkey of the Kurdish PKK leader A. Ocalan.
c) Bulgaria- Georgia
On 24 September 1999 the Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian armed
forces, Johnny Pirzhaliashvili made an official visit to Bulgaria and met with
his Bulgarian counterpart and the Minister of Defence of Bulgaria.
The President of Romania, E. Konstantinescu compared the importance of the
geostrategic situation of Turkey to that of Romania relative to Central Europe
and the Black Sea area during an official visit to Ankara.
On 3 September 1999 the General Prosecutors of the two countries discussed in
Moscow the ways of joint fighting organised criminality.
In the third week of August 1999 the Presidents of Ukraine and Moldova,
Kuchma and Luchinski signed a treaty that clears a long border issue: 7 km
stretch of land with a significant road for Ukraine becomes a sovereign
Ukrainian territory. The two Presidents discussed also the Transdniestria
The 80-years long conflict about the Romanian national treasure is presently
tackled by CE authorities with no clear prospects of finalising. This treasure
is in Russia since 1917 and has not been returned because of the Russia’s
claims to be compensated for the unpaid Russian arms given to Romania and later
– for the damages inflicted by the German Nazi ally – the Romanian army,
during World War II on Russian territory.
A 443 km long optic cable line under the surface of the sea worth of $ 26 mil.
became operational in the last week of July 1999 between the Russian port
Novorossiysk and the Georgian Black Sea ferry-boat and oil pipe-line terminal
port of Poti.
On 29 August 1999 in Kiev was signed a Ukrainian-Greek weapons trade accord.
Greece will buy two Zurb-class ships worth of about $ 100 million, T-84 tanks
and transport planes from Ukraine. The Greek Defence Minister Akis
Tsohadzopoulos, who struck the deal said that relations with Ukraine might
become "strategic points" for Europe and NATO.
On 24 September 1999 in Sofia the three countries agreed to increase from 22
to 34 million cubic metres the transit of natural gas from Russia to Turkey via
On 12 July 1999 in Athens the Deputy Foreign Ministers of the three countries
met within the framework of the second session of the trilateral cooperation
executive committee. They discussed issues of tourism; communications,
telecommunications and transport; energy, industry and technology; disaster
prevention; environment and health.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced on 20 September 1999 that Moscow will
not recognise Turkmenistan’s effort to extend its sovereignty over part of the
The legal status of the Caspian Sea and claims by Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan
have stalled the Trans-Caspian pipeline project. This dispute has worked to
Russia’s advantage as Gasprom, Russia’s gas monopoly is trying to outpace
the US project and supply gas to Turkey’s growing market. The international
status of the Caspian Sea is expected to be finally settled in early October
1999 when the five Caspian states hold a meeting in Iran. Soon after that the
Governments of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will reach a territorial agreement
and there will be no legal obstacles for blocking this US backed project.
d) The Conference for Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia
The Conference (CICA) was convened in Almaty, Kazakhstan in the second week
of September 1999. Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Azerbaijan, China,
India, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and
Palestine agreed to raise their cooperation in fighting cross-border terrorism.
Over a year ago Uzbekistan, Russia and Tajikistan formed a "troika"
alliance to fight Islamic extremism. Kazakhstan’s President is urging the
establishment of a wider collective security set-up in Asia since 1992.
e) BSEC-Baltic Cooperation Countries
An unprecedented meeting of the leaders of the BSEC and the Baltic
Cooperation States took place on 11-12 September 1999 in Yalta, Ukraine. The
participants agreed that European integration without discrimination of the
individual states was the chance for the continent’s future. The Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Khristenco said that a further expansion of NATO to
Southeastern Europe and the Baltic would lead to the creation of dividing lines
and diminish Europe’s security.
From 23 till 27 August 1999 at the exercise ground Ashluk, Astrahan district,
Russia was carried out a military exercise "Fighting Community-99"
with the participation of ground and air forces of the five CIS states.
After the general drop of economic growth in Russia in 1998 by 4,5% the
economic situation continued to be unstable and inflationary pressures have
brought to contracted domestic demand and further economic difficulties. A
further economic decline is observed in Russia and the forecasts of negative
economic growth of minus 5% for 1999 seem already by the end of the third
quarter of this year yet quite probable. The new round of hostilities and war in
the Northern Caucasus, the difficulties in transporting oil from and through
this region may make the figures even worse.
Ukraine was most severely hit by the Russian crisis and will continue to
experience a further worsening of economic growth. The latter is expected to be
negative by the magnitude of minus 5% for 1999.
The economic decline of Moldova of 8,6% in 1998 continued this year and
further worsened the problem of economic depression and social distress.
The post-conflict economies of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have
experienced an economic rebound in 1998, but for the present year seem to have
slowed down considerably the rate of economic growth. After achieving
respectively 7,2%, 10,1% and 2,9% of economic growth in 1998 the three countries
are expected to achieve in 1999 a lower rate of growth and contraction of
domestic demand and exports volumes. Armenia’s growth of GDP is expected to
fall to 4%, Azerbaijan’s – to 5% and Georgia’s – to 1,2%.
The worsening of the economic performance in the CIS countries and the
similarity of their economic difficulties threatens to make the prospects of
their mutual relations rather dependent on the political factor. Thus the
economic crisis becomes a bottleneck to the efforts of enlarging the economic
cooperation in the CIS and in the OBSEC.
As a consequence of the worsening of the economic situation in both groups of
countries that participate in the Black Sea cooperation (the CIS and the Balkan
countries – see more about the Balkan economic situation in the September
issue of the "Balkan Regional Profile") the prospects of
widening this cooperation become even more dependent on the political
cooperation and on the security factor.
(1) From 1 to 14 August 1999 in the NATO designated PfP Training Centre at
Yavoriv, Ukraine was run a PfP exercise – "Peace Shield ‘99". It
focused on the combined command and control and staff procedures at the brigade
level. Participants of 17 nations joined the exercise, among them from Greece,
Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the USA,
Belgium, Italy, Norway, the UK, Poland and others. (2) A PfP disaster planning
exercise was carried out in Neptun, Romania on 10-19 September 1999. It
simulated command post activities during a disaster. Participants from Romania,
the USA, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, FYROMacedonia, Moldova and
Ukraine joined the exercise. Albania, Portugal and Slovenia attended as
(1) USA-Georgia. On 10 July 1999 in Poti President Shevardnadze hosted a
ceremony at which he showcased new equipment worth $ 34 million from the US
Government for enhancing the country’s ability to control its borders and
enforce export controls. The equipment included uniforms, boats, helicopters,
vehicles, an airplane, radiation pagers, bulletproof vests and other basic law
enforcement tools. On 1 August the US Secretary of Defence, William Cohen
visited Georgia and met with the Georgian President. Since 1995 the military
cooperation between the two countries has tripled and only in 1999 they had 30
joint exercises. Georgia supported NATO’s action in Kosovo and plans to send a
platoon to serve with Turkish troops in the American sector. The Defence
Secretary made it clear that the Abkhazian issue must be resolved by Georgia.
The US Department of Agriculture signed on 2 August 1999 an agreement to donate
$ 5 million of wheat – 35,000 metric tons and an agreement to sell the same
quantity to Georgia. On 23 September 1999 President Clinton met in the White
House Georgian President Shevardnadze. They reviewed the full range of bilateral
cooperation and discussed opportunities to enhance relationship in the period
(2) USA-Turkey. On 16-17 August 1999 Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a visit to Turkey. At the same time US Energy
Secretary Bill Richardson visited Turkey (and Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan) to
discuss developments on the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Trans-Caspian gas
pipeline. The US policy in this region seeks to strengthen economic ties to help
ensure the diversity of world energy supplies. On 28 September 1999 Turkish
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit met in the White House with President Bill Clinton
and reviewed regional issues, reaffirming the close bilateral ties between
Turkey and the USA.
(3) USA- Ukraine. In the last week of July 1999 Defence Secretary W. Cohen
met in Kiev and on 31 July-1 August 1999 in Washington, D. C. with President
Kuchma and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kuzmuk. The USA will contribute
to Ukraine’s participation in the KFOR in Kosovo. The two countries agreed to
extend the $ 569 million Cooperation Threat Reduction program by an additional
six years – till 2006. The aim of the agreement is to control the spread of
WMD. The sum is provided by the US budget.
(4) USA-Azerbaijan. The US Department of Agriculture announced on 10 August
1999 that it will donate approximately 10,500 metric tons of wheat to the
Adventist Development and Relief Agency for milling and sale in Azerbaijan.
(5) USA-Bulgaria. On 25 September 1999 the Prime-Minister of Bulgaria, I.
Kostov told the BBC the Bulgarian Government is formulating its position on the
issue of providing bases to NATO and the US Navy. This position is expected to
be finalised before the visit of President Clinton to Bulgaria in November 1999.
(1) On 1 July 1999 took effect the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements
between the EU and the Governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. A few
days earlier the German Foreign Minister, presiding the Union and the President
of the EC met in Luxembourg with the Presidents of Armenia and Georgia and with
the Prime-Minister of Azerbaijan. They agreed to work together for the
strengthening of the democratic institutions of the three Transcaucasian
countries; to narrow the gap between their legislation and that of the EU; to
improve the investment activity and the infrastructure of the three countries.
Closer involvement of the UN and the OSCE in regulating the various conflicts of
the area was underlined by the participants of the meeting in Luxembourg.
(2) Representatives of more than 40 countries from Europe and Asia met on
21-23 July 1999 in the Ukrainian capital Kiev which hosted the secretariat of
the INNOGATE Programme. It aims at achieving independence from the supply of
energy and other sources from Russia by channelling the flow of oil and natural
gas from the Central Asian and especially the Caspian reservoirs. The reparation
and reconstruction of the pipe-line system of Georgia and Azerbaijan are
significant elements of this encompassing programme. Another element is the
"Framework Agreement on the Institutional Format for Developing Inter-State
Systems for Oil and Gas" among 10 countries of the former Soviet Union,
Mongolia, Romania and Bulgaria. Another element of the Innogate agreement was
the signatories to accelerate market reforms in the energy-generating industry.
Russia is presently an observer in the Innogate Programme.
1. The conflicts in the Northern Caucasus marked a tendency of polarising
around the Russian-Chechnya confrontation. The competing concepts of integration
of the region reached a level of direct and massive military clash. Countering
international terrorism and bringing the Northern Caucasus back in the Russian
political and economic system are the challenges Moscow faces during its second
war against Chechnya after 1994-96. In meeting the first challenge Russia will
definitely need the support of the international community. For countering the
second one will be needed a comprehensive political, economic and cultural plan
that will be attractive enough for the diverse in ethnic, religious and language
terms population of this area.
2. The improvement of the region-building opportunities in the basin of the
Black Sea is becoming more dependent on the ability of the influential internal
factors (Russia, Turkey and Iran) and the external providers of capital and
stability (USA, EU, NATO, the oil and gas companies) to strike a deal through
compromise and complete two key tasks: first, regulate in a stable way the
conflicts in the Northern Caucasus and in the Kurdish part of the Turkish
territory; cooperation in crushing international terrorism that has chosen to
erect its state and economic infrastructure in the volatile Russia’s Northern
Caucasus is an obligatory component of this major task. Second, reach a
compromise on the oil and gas issues before they have started instigating more
antagonistic behaviours in the region, thus closing for an indefinite period
world-big US and EU economic projects.
CONTACT AND REFERENCE
Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief
ISSN 1311 – 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova
Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,
Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A.
P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria
Dr. Sc. Venelin Tsachevsky
Phone/Fax: ++(359 - 2-) 551 828
Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A.
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
Dr. Dinko Dinkov
Dr. Todor Tagarev