BLACK SEA BASIN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES
(A Background and July -
September 2000 Issue in Brief)
Hard Copy: ISSN 1311 3259
ISN SPONSORED QUARTERLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
PROFILE BACKGROUND OF THE BLACK SEA BASIN
Geopolitical and Geostrategic Tendencies
2. Sources of
Conflict: The Oil and Gas Issue
CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA
Post-Conflict Issues in Chechnya
2. The Abkhazian Conflict
3. The Nagorno-Karabakh
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS
THE BILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BLACK SEA REGION
THE STATE OF REGIONAL INITIATIVES
The Economic Situation in Black Sea Region Countries and Its Consequences on
Black Sea Cooperation
Political and Security Aspects of the Cooperation
EXTERNAL FACTORS (STATES AND INSTITUTIONS) INFLUENCING THE BLACK SEA REGION
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES: CONCLUSION
The last three months
proved how dependent the security situation and the realization of
region-building opportunities are on domestic developments in individual
countries within the Black Sea-Caspian Sea area.
Internal developments in Russia were again of priority significance for
the general stability of the broader region.
A terrorist act in the Moscow subway, the sinking of the Kursk nuclear
submarine and the deaths of its crew, the fire in the Ostankino TV tower, and
continuing terrorist attacks against Russian soldiers in Chechnya greatly
burdened the first months of newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Pressed by the deep human tragedy, Putin said the poor technological
state of the whole Russian economy and hardware had logically led to the
suffering of recent weeks.
Issues concerning oil and
gas transportation routes from the Caspian Sea region to world markets were a
reminder of the many unsettled questions in relations between the former Soviet
republics. This conflict factor is
still pending, with options to escalate tensions or to engage in mutually
beneficial cooperation between the region's countries.
in Chechnya remained complicated, with very modest signs of political
settlement, given the background of continuing scattered terrorist opposition in
the rebel republic.
The dangers arising in
Central Asia led to a joint Russian-US force to counter Afghan terrorist
activity in the broader area. The
EU resumed its TACIS program with the Russian Federation.
The US continues to display its strategic interest in the region's
Geopolitical and Geostrategic Tendencies
US and Russian experts met
in Washington, DC, on 1-2 August to review the threat posed to regional and
international stability by Taliban support of terrorism.
The experts are part of a US-Russian working group on Afghanistan, and
the meeting was convened at the suggestion of US Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, to whom the working group
reports. During the June summit
meeting between US President Bill Clinton and Putin in Moscow, they agreed to
explore ways to stem threats to the international community from Taliban support
for terrorist activities. The two
countries' experts explored bilateral, regional, and multilateral options for
addressing the threat. Both sides condemned terrorism emanating from Afghanistan and
reiterated their determination to cooperate in countering it.
They called for full implementation of the United Nations Security
Council Resolution 1267 and support for further measures against the Taliban, in
view of the group's refusal to implement that resolution.
Both sides also jointly condemned Taliban promotion of illicit drug
production and trafficking in territory under its control and use of drug
profits to support terrorism. The
expert group members noted that a multifaceted approach must draw upon
diplomatic, law enforcement, and other legal means to counter the threat of
international terrorism from Afghanistan and to create conditions for Afghans to
establish a broad-based government in that country.
They agreed that continued cooperation between the Russian and US
governments was necessary to promote that approach.
tendency in the Central Asian region adjacent to the Black Sea-Caspian Sea area
was the removal of Russian troops from Tajikistan at the end of the third week
of September. Meanwhile, the Afghan
Taliban carried out a successful military campaign in the northern part of the
country against the Northern Alliance of Ahmad Shah Massud.
That posed a direct threat against Tajikistan. Russia failed to arrange
its legal relations with this country in the newly arising situation at the
Afghan border during the 10 days before the legitimate stay expired on 17
September. If Taliban aggression
persists, Russia will probably return its forces at a higher cost in both
financial and strategic terms.
A third major trend gained
momentum in the region after Romania declared its readiness to join GUUAM – an
alignment of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.
The group was formed in 1997, and Uzbekistan joined in April 1999.
Romania displayed its interest in joining during the UN Millennium Summit
meeting in September. Obviously
this country seeks a political guarantee on its future profitable participation
in building up and exploiting benefits of the Trans-Continental Transport
Corridor or TRACECA (the East-West Corridor).
As a prospective NATO member, Romania will bring specific content to the
GUUAM grouping with repercussions on Russian attitudes, unless it assumes a more
favorable stance towards NATO. Politically
Russia paved the way for this move after introducing a visa regime for its CIS
Sources of Conflict in the Black Sea-Caspian Sea Region
Delimitation of the Caspian Sea
During the first week of
August an official in Putin’s administration responsible for Caspian Sea
regional issues and deputy minister of foreign affairs Viktor Kaliusin visited
Iran and other coastal countries. Putin
discussed Russia's position on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Russia considers the undefined limits of the Caspian Sea the
basic impediment to broader extraction of oil and natural gas in the region.
Russia declared its opposition to the notion of dividing the sea
territory into national sectors, holding that this would drastically destabilize
the region and intensify various problems and tensions among the Caspian Sea
neighbors. A conference of all
Caspian states may provide the opportunity to discuss these fundamental issues
comprehensively. The need to transport oil and gas from the Caspian Sea area
to world markets necessitates the convening of such a broad discussion but
probably with the participation of other interested partners outside this
region. Similar issues are also not
solved in the Black Sea.
The Oil and Gas Issue
Construction of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline could progress after the Turkish government
decision in late August to begin basic engineering work, route surveys, and
environmental studies. The pipeline
would run from Baku, Azerbaijan, on the western side of the Caspian Sea, across
Azerbaijan (some 465 kilometers) and Georgia (about 255 km) to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan,
with 1'010 km on Turkish territory. The
cost of the project is estimated at US$2.4 billion.
According to the EuroPA Monthly
intelligence bulletin of 13 July, to become commercially profitable in the
absence of US subsidies the pipeline would need an estimated through-put of 1
million barrels a day – a figure beyond the immediate capacity of Azerbaijan.
Furthermore, proven reserves are below the 6 billion barrels on which
banks are said to require a commitment before construction can start.
The letter of intent, signed by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev
at last November's 1999 OSCE meeting in Istanbul, to ship 20 million tons
annually through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is non-binding.
Requiring access to the pipeline by the Kazakh side is not an urgent
issue, since export of oil from the huge Tengiz on-shore field flows directly to
the Russian port of Novorossiysk. News
of great hydrocarbon deposits at the East Kashagan concession in the northern
Caspian, exclusively in Kazakh territory, re-ignited great expectations from
this pipeline project, which is both of geoeconomic and geopolitical importance.
Despite the fact that experts are not hurrying to confirm the magnitude
of this oil and gas reservoir, reportedly between 8 and 50 billion barrels at
4'000 meters depth, supporters of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route have added value
to the project by linking Kazakh energy resources to the opportunity to
transport them through the pipeline under construction.
In criticism of the present US administration’s energy policy, the
Republican candidate for US president, Governor George Bush, Jr, said at the
beginning of September that he would favor transporting Caspian oil through
Iranian and Russian territory, triggering outrage in official Baku and Tbilisi.
The governor’s argument is that this would be almost five times cheaper
to construct. This position
perfectly matches the opinion of official Moscow.
A similar big project, the
Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, is proceeding in a different way from that initially
planned. Turkmenistan received
pre-financing of some US$500 million to join Azeri and Turkish partners in
constructing and transporting gas resources.
The problem arose when Azerbaijan, becoming a potential gas exporter in
1999 after a surprise discovery of a large deposit of natural gas at Shah Deniz,
demanded a 50 per cent share of the pipeline capacity, which Turkmenistan
President Sapamurat Niazov expected to have entirely for his country.
Niazov proposed to Moscow an increase to about 50 billion cubic meters in
five years in the hope of obtaining transit rights for Turkmeni gas through
Russian territory. The US Secretary
of State’s special adviser to the CIS, Stephen Sestanovich, visited Ashkhabat,
the capital of Turkmenistan on 10 July but failed to get Niazov to change his
position on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline.
However, the project will proceed in transporting Azeri gas with the
agreement of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, and the US.
The practical transportation is expected to start at the end of 2002 or
the beginning of 2003. US
ambassador John Wolf, special advisor on Caspian energy to the US president and
secretary of state, said in Ankara on 25 August that the region's countries
remained ready to include Turkmeni partners if and when they were ready to join.
While waiting for the decision of Ashkhabat, economic development of the
East-West corridor will not be delayed.
In August and September the
Russian-Ukrainian dispute on pumping of some 1 billion cubic meters of the 130
billion cubic meters of natural gas transited through Ukrainian territory to
Central and Western Europe Russian by Ukrainians with highest governmental
protection intensified. Russia's
Gasprom holds that the quantity is more than twice this amount.
Russia already has four options to bypass Ukraine and transport its gas
supplies to Poland, Slovakia, and elsewhere in Europe.
At the beginning of September the prime ministers of Russia and Slovakia
– Mikhail Kassyanov and Lubomir Charach – discussed one of these options and
agreed to proceed with construction of the new pipeline.
The Russian-Ukrainian dispute on gas routes and gas supplies for Kiev has
broader geopolitical and geostrategic dimensions, linked particularly to
Ukraine's policy of closer ties with the West, NATO, and the US.
For its part, Ukraine is in
a hurry to build the Odessa-Brodi oil pipeline.
Some 500 km of this pipeline that would provide Ukraine with Azeri oil
are ready. The scheme is a pipeline
that transports the oil from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Supsa, Georgia, where
it is loaded in tankers bound for Odessa and then transited to Brodi and the
broader European oil-pipeline network. The
system's capacity is expected to be 40 million tons a year.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2001.
The US oil company Frontera
Resources announced proof in mid-September that Taribani oil deposits in Eastern
Georgia are immense and of very high quality. The prediction is of 230 million barrels of oil during the
next 25 years. Processing of the
deposits will proceed in three stages, the first by 2007, the second by 2015,
and the third in 2025. Frontera
Resources and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have
already invested US$30 million and have pledged another US$60 million. The Georgian oil company Gruzneft is a major participant in
Post-Conflict Issues in Chechnya
attacked neighboring Daghestan a year ago (during summer 1999), thus launching a
dramatic effort to construct a powerful Islamic stronghold in the area between
the Caspian and the Black Sea – the state of Great Ichkeria.
In a war with Russian federal forces Chechen separatists, claiming they
defend the rights of the Chechen people, waged a cruel terrorist campaign that
targeted Russian civilians. A year
later more than half the Chechen fighters had been killed and their heavy arms
destroyed. According to Russian
military estimates, some 12'000 Chechen fighters and 500 to 600 foreign
mercenaries from Central Asia, Africa, and some Slavic countries continue their
anti-federation activities. Many
Russian soldiers were ambushed and killed or wounded in July and August.
The war goes on at a lower level of intensity.
One significant negative
consequence of this war is the 170'000 Chechens that face the prospect of a
second rough winter in tents and other uncomfortable shelters outside the
province. In mid-August the World
Food Program sent two food convoys to Chechnya to help 31'000 internally
displaced people who faced starvation in this conflict, mostly elderly, ill, and
disabled Chechens, as well as single mothers with children.
The main challenge for the
federal government since the end of the military campaign has been to find a
political settlement. One main
aspect of this solution has been to establish an adequate and flexible local
government, adapted to the mentality and the family and clan connections.
The government formula in Chechnya creates opportunities but also a lot
of problems. Muslim cleric Akhmad
Kadyrov, who was appointed by Putin president as head of the administration in
Chechnya, has long had tense relations with his deputy and chief of the internal
forces, Bislan Gantamirov. Together
with 13 other contenders, they clashed in the election to represent single-seat
constituency No 31 in the State Duma. Elections
were held on 20 August in Chechnya amid a continuing conflict and without the
presence of international observers. The
winner appeared to be Major-General Aslambek Aslakhanov from the Russian militia
who headed the association of servicemen in law-enforcement agencies in Russia.
Aslakhanov won about 30 per cent of the popular vote, expressed by 60 per
cent of eligible voters. The
message of the elections was that people want new faces in politics and wish to
stay with the Russian Federation.
Moscow is working on three
other lines of post-conflict arrangements:
appointing judges; proclaiming amnesty for ending armed resistance; and
providing adequate money to revitalize the economy for 2001 and to bring about
social rehabilitation. The Chechen
diaspora in Moscow is actively supporting the creation of a consultative council
to support the constitution of the province's governing bodies including the
municipal militia (police).
The Abkhazian Conflict
Zurab Achba, a former
member of parliament and a consultant to the OSCE office in Sukhumi, was
assassinated in that city on 15 August. Another
ethnically motivated terrorist act took place on 12 August in Sukhumi when the
monument of the founder of the Abkhazian language, Dmitriy Gulia, was damaged
substantially. The Abkhazian
conflict remains a permanent source of tension in Georgia and between Georgia
The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
Armenian President Robert
Kocharian and Azerbaijan President Geydar Aliev met in mid-September in New York
during the ongoing UN Millennium Summit and discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. Both leaders expressed
their will to peacefully resolve the conflict by mutual compromise and defined
the meeting as very important and useful. However,
they think it would be premature to declare concrete results.
They agreed on the need to continue discussing the problems of the
enclave in Azerbaijan, populated mainly by Armenians.
Nagorno-Karabakh unilaterally declared its independence from Baku in 1988
and sought union with Armenia. During
the military crisis 30'000 people were killed and about a million Azeris were
displaced. A ceasefire was
negotiated in 1994, but there is no final agreement on the issue.
The Armenian government has
asked international organizations and foreign governments for help after the
devastating drought in the country that compromised the wheat and potato crops.
Forests and pastures also suffered from the drought.
The situation in the food-supplies sector created grave threats to
national security, according to governmental sources.
Armenian agriculture provides 60 to 65 per cent of the southern Caucasian
state's yearly food supplies.
Parliamentary elections in
Azerbaijan will be held on 5 November. The
threat of an opposition boycott continues because the opposition sees the new
election laws as unfair. The
opposition protest was intensified after the arrest of Rauf Arifoglu,
editor-in-chief of an opposition newspaper Eni Musavat, and after a court decision to close another opposition
newspaper Uch Nogta.
These acts have been assessed both in Azerbaijan and abroad as a
crackdown on independent media. The
arrest lacked grounds, and international reactions, including those of the
Council of Europe (CE) and the OSCE, have been very negative.
The law covering the media falls short of international standards and
easily leads to de facto governmental
censorship of the press.
In July the Georgian people
commemorated 17 centuries of Christianity in the lands of the present state.
Former Polish finance
minister Leszek Balzerovic agreed to become financial adviser to Georgian
President Edward Shevardnadze, according to an 11 August announcement. The US Agency for International Development will subsidize
the Polish expert's activity.
Georgian Defense Minister
David Tevzadze told the Bulgarian press in mid-August that the chances of a political solution to the
Abkhazian conflict were better than that of a military approach, though the
Georgian army can deal with the situation.
He does not expect NATO intervention in resolving the Abkhazian issue.
The defense minister reminded the press of the dominating opinion in
Georgia that foreign military bases are unacceptable on its territory.
Russia is closing two of its four military bases.
The other two are expected to remain there for some time.
Russia adopted its new
foreign political concept in the second week of July after Putin signed it.
Foreign policy is expected to be of major support to the federation's
domestic reforms. Russia will
endeavor to preserve the UN as the center of regulating international relations
in the 21st century as well as towards formation of a multi-polar international
system that would better reflect the diversity of interests in the world.
According to the new concept, Russia maintains its negative attitude
Putin and Chinese President
Jiang Zemin met on 17-19 July in Beijing. They
both pledged to work as strategic partners for a multi-polar world and adopted a
joint statement denouncing the proposed US national missile defense (NMD)
During the last days of
July Putin succeeded in bringing to life a law reforming the Council of the
Federation, diminishing the power of regional governors.
A terrorist bomb blast on 8
August killed 12 and wounded more than 100 people in a metro station in downtown
Moscow. Many of the victims were
children and women.
A few days later the Kursk
submarine tragedy showed the vulnerability of Russia’s under-funded,
unreformed, and oversized armed forces. Putin
made a grave mistake by not asserting his presence at the scene immediately, but
he had initially not been fully informed. The
minister of defense and commander of the Russian navy reportedly tendered their
resignations after the tragedy, but Putin did not accept them. An open inquiry and drastic changes are needed to repair
Putin's image as a decision-maker.
The Russian Security
Council decided in mid-September to cut the armed forces from 1.2 million to
850'000 over the next three years. The
reform still remains locked in the numbers stage, and less attention is devoted
to improving civil-military relations, including social integration of the
thousands of former officers.
The Presidium of the
Supreme Court of the Russian Federation rejected an appeal on 13 September by
Russia's general prosecutor to reopen espionage charges against Alexander
Nikitin. Nikitin is a renowned
environmental and human-rights activist who has done valuable research, exposing
the dangers posed to the environment by the Russian Navy’s handling of nuclear
materials. Nikitin's research
highlighted the environmental and health risks posed by the Northern fleet’s
dumping of nuclear materials and other debris along the Kola Peninsula.
There are expectations that the court’s ruling will help strengthen the
rule of law, freedom of expression in Russia, and the role of NGOs in creating a
General David Tevzadze,
Georgian minister of defense, made an official visit to Bulgaria on 11 July.
He met with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Minister of Defense
Boyko Noev. The Georgian defense
minister visited the navy base in Burgas. Bulgaria
and Georgia are partners in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and in
its Black Sea navy exercises. They
also cooperate in the framework of Black Sea coast guard relations.
Ukrainian Prime Minister
Victor Yushchenko visited Sofia on 28 July and met with Bulgarian Prime Minister
Ivan Kostov. They cleared a long
list of pending bilateral economic issues and agreed to create better education
conditions for the Bulgarian minority in Ukraine.
In early July Azerbaijan
Vice-Prime Minister Abid Sharifov visited Varna and its port, including the
ferryboat complex. He said the
equipment and tariffs are acceptable for Azerbaijan's transportation needs. He was accompanied by Bulgarian Minister of Transport Antony
The Russian Ministry of
Defense announced in mid-July that it is suspending the exit of Russian troops
from Georgia for financial reasons. The
initial agreement required a full pullout from two of the four military bases on
Georgian territory by this 1 August. In
early August the Russian troops continued their withdrawal from Georgia.
According to the 1995 bilateral agreement, Russian bases in Georgia will
remain till 2020, and Georgia can rely on Russia’s support in dealing with the
Abkhazian issue. The first bases to
be abandoned are those in Viziani and in Gudauta.
The Georgian side has certain claims on the way the pullout takes place,
and it will raise the issue at the fourth round of negotiations this October.
Georgia stated in
mid-September that it would establish three additional peacekeeping stations in
the secessionist region of Southern Ossetia.
The reason for this act was said to be increased crime in the area.
Ten years ago Southern Ossetia seceded, and a joint peacekeeping force of
Georgian, Russian, and Ossetian armed forces was later instituted to keep the
region under control. The lack of
reciprocity in behavior of the South Ossetian forces and the rise of crime and
need for protection are given as reasons for the Georgian move.
Armenian Prime Minister
Andranik Margaryan told the media during his 19 July visit to Belarus that his
country did not intend to join the Russia-Belarus Union.
The context of relations between Armenia and Russia will continue to be
the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The presidents Putin
and Kocharian met in Moscow, where they concluded an agreement for visa-free
movement of their countries' citizens. After
Russia’s withdrawal from the Bishkek Agreement for CIS visa-free movement,
Armenia became the first commonwealth country to regulate its relations with
Russia on a bilateral basis. The
two presidents also signed a declaration of cooperation in the 21st century on
26 September. Putin called Armenia a traditional ally of Moscow.
In early August Moldovan
President Petru Luchinsky made a short visit to Moscow and met with Putin.
They discussed a broad range of bilateral trade and economic issues,
including Moldova's obligations to pay Russia regularly for natural gas
supplies. Moldova has mounted a
US$681 million debt to the Russian Gasprom by failing to pay for energy supplies
from the Russian company.
Meeting of the Shanghai Five
State leaders of five
countries – Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, and Kazakhstan – met in
the Tajikistan capital Dushanbe on 5 July as the Shanghai Five group, named
after the city of their first meeting. Together with the president of Uzbekistan
they adopted an anti-terrorist plan. They
agreed to join forces in fighting Islamic extremists and terrorism and to set up
an anti-terrorist center in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Separatism and religious extremism are major security threats
in this region.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
An unofficial forum of CIS
leaders, without the presidents of Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan, convened in Crimea
on 18 August, engaged with military operations against Islamic extremists on
their territories. The president of
Turkmenistan preferred to stay out of the meeting, during which a dispute arose
between Ukraine and Russia on the natural gas issue. Economic issues and the eventual CIS free-trade agreement
were the main discussion topics.
Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov declared on 30 August Russia’s withdrawal from the Bishkek
Agreement of 1992 for visa-free movement of citizens on CIS territory. The danger of international terrorism and extremism posing
grave security threats to Russia were the motives for this decision.
Another reason was the rise of immigration to Russia from CIS states.
In the future Russia will regulate these issues on a bilateral basis with
CIS members. Russia has signed
bilateral agreements with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
The Economic Situation in Individual Countries and in the Region
Prime Minister Mikhail
Kassyanov of Russia wrote in an article for the Financial
Times in July that it is in everyone’s interest for the Paris Club of
official creditors to reduce the burden of Soviet-era debt on Russia.
He writes that the Russian government adopted an ambitious economic
program in July, calling for urgently needed structural reform that will lay the
groundwork for sustained economic growth and development of an open and
democratic society. Russia’s
ability to implement this program will depend largely on solving the debt burden
inherited from the Soviet Union. Russia
has suffered massive economic dislocation as a result of the USSR's dissolution. Russia has accepted responsibility for the former Soviet
Union's debts and forgiven a significant portion of its Soviet-era claims on
other countries. It is time for the
Paris Club to put a financial end to the Cold War by agreeing to a comprehensive
solution to Russia’s Soviet-era debt comparable to that already agreed with
Russia’s London Club creditors.
The Russian Duma created a
subcommittee at the beginning of July that will draft legislation for electronic
trade, including the issue of electronic signatures.
The Russian prime minister
announced 1 per cent inflation for August and 12.6 per cent for the first eight
months of this year. Although the
Russian economy is doing well in some sectors, the key to recovery –
investment – is still lacking. Foreigners
need more persuasion. Domestically,
the banks are unable to attract a satisfactory volume of savings, which nearly
all go into the state-backed Sberbank for the short term.
The sum of investment money (US$ 2 billion to US$3 billion a year and
just 1 per cent of the investment money crossing international borders) is very
Ukraine's debt to the
Russian Gasprom continues to mount. Ukraine
authorities threaten to stop Russian gas supplies and to negotiate with
Turkmenistan for new supplies. Ukraine's
problem is that it has a US$100 million debt towards Turkmenistan for previous
gas deliveries. Even if a new deal
is reached, Ukraine will have to pay transit tax to Russia.
A realistic continuation of gas supplies to Ukraine may be through
re-scheduling payment to Gasprom. However,
Ukraine’s claim is to pay by fixed prices, and Gasprom disagrees, insisting on
payment of fines.
Black Sea Coastal States’ Cooperation on Protecting the Environment
The US Department of Energy
sponsored a second workshop with Black Sea countries on 25-27 July in Constanza,
Romania. The workshop's aim was to
encourage environmentally responsible energy development in the region.
Representatives from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Georgia, and
Bulgaria attended the workshop. More
specifically, the workshop tried to formulate better response capabilities in
the event of an oil spill. The
workshop provided an excellent opportunity for Black Sea coastal countries to
work together in sharing technology and building stronger plans for preventing
spills and protecting the environment.
Political and Security Aspects of Black Sea Basin Regional Cooperation
The Black Sea naval
cooperation group continues at the expert level of drafting an agreement.
While there is a full agreement on the areas of cooperation (rescue and
humanitarian contingencies), there are still disputes on who will participate in
the agreement. There are two opinions – participation by the coastal
states’ navies and participation of navies outside the Black Sea area.
Considering the universal nature of the rescue and humanitarian
operations, it would limit the cooperative effort if only locals were involved.
Furthermore, Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (OBSEC)
membership covers a greater number of states and observers whose involvement
should not be discarded. There are
also navies in the Mediterranean whose support may be decisive in certain
USA-Armenia. US Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Armenian Defense Minister Serzh
Sarkisyan signed an agreement in Washington on 24 July for US help to Armenia to
improve its customs and border patrol services controlling the spread of weapons
of mass destruction. The US will
provide Armenia with training and $300'000 of equipment, including kits to
detect nuclear and contraband items.
USA-Georgia. After his visit
to Georgia, the US ambassador-at-large and special adviser to the Secretary of
State for the New Independent States (NIS), Steven Sestanovich, told reporters
in Tbilisi on 14 July that he and President Shevardnadze reviewed bilateral
cooperation, including the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia.
The US has resources that can be made available to Russia in support of
the withdrawal. After the talks, Sestanovich said he was confident the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project would be implemented.
At the end of July the US president sent a letter to the Georgian
president in which he confirmed the readiness of the US to support Georgia in
overcoming economic difficulties and dealing with the issue of separatist
USA-Azerbaijan. Clinton sent
a message to the US Senate on 12 September asking for approval of a bilateral
investment treaty with Azerbaijan. The
Fourth Annual Conference of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce convened on
the same day in Washington. A major
conclusion of this meeting was that the energy sector will be the main engine
for economic development in Azerbaijan for the foreseeable future, but other
industries must be developed to prevent another example of citizens living in
extreme poverty in an oil-rich country.
USA-Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. 70
US Special Forces troops and supporting personnel were deployed in Georgia on 14
September to train Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani troops in humanitarian
mine-sweeping techniques. The
training takes place at a military base near Tbilisi and is intended to create
real conditions for peace and prosperity in the southern Caucasus as called for
by the Organization for Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE). The landmines were laid
during the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and continue to cause casualties
in these countries. Landmines were
also set during the separatist conflict in northwest Georgia and pose an ongoing
threat to the people of Abkhazia.
USA-Russia. In continuation
of joint efforts to combat international terrorism, the American Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) and the Russian Ministry of the Interior created a joint
working group in mid-September. Alongside
anti-terrorist activity, the working group will deal with financial and computer
USA-Ukraine. US Labor
Secretary Alexis M. Herman and Ukraine’s Minister of Labor and Social Policy
Ivan Sakhan signed an agreement In Washington on 26 July that launches a
technical assistance program. The
program includes five projects in the areas of mine safety and health,
dislocated worker services, child labor, industrial relations, and gender
equity. The budget for the
project's first year is US$3.75 million.
The United Nations
The UN Security Council
decided in a formal meeting on 28 July to extend the mandate of the UN Observer
Mission (UNOM) in Georgia by six months, until the end of January 2001.
Council of Europe
President of the Council of
Europe (CE) Lord Russell Johnston sent a letter to the Speaker of the
Azerbaijani Parliament, Murtuz Alasgarov. It
states the CE concern about treatment of journalists and newspapers, especially
in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections on 5 November.
NATO secretary general Lord George Robertson made an official
visit to Tbilisi, Georgia, on 25-27 September.
He attended an international conference dealing with regional cooperation
and the partnership with NATO. Lord
Robertson highlighted the regional peacekeeping role of the United Nations, the
OSCE, and GUUAM. A significant step
in improving the region's security is the withdrawal of Russian troops from
Georgia. Visits by the secretary
general to Azerbaijan and Armenia were cancelled due to developments in Former
Republic of Yugoslavia.
The European Union (EU)
resumed financing Russia through TACIS – the program for technical assistance.
The decision was taken by the Council of Ministers at the foreign
ministers' level during the first week of July in Brussels. The TACIS program
was suspended because of the war in Chechnya.
The European Commission was assigned to propose TACIS measures by the end
of 2000 that would support political, economic, and social reforms in Russia.
Domestic stability in
Russia continued to be a major security factor in the broader region.
Alongside continuing terrorist acts in Chechnya, there are efforts of
post-conflict reconstruction, including political settlement of Chechen
Cooperation in the region
continues to be linked with activity of outside states and institutions in the
region, especially the US and the EU. Oil
and gas resources continue to create both opportunities and tensions among
states of the region.
A promising regional sign
is the rising cooperation between outside states and institutions in fighting
international terrorism. US-Russian
cooperation is of major significance. The
southern Caucasian states' rising interest in cooperation with NATO is another
major factor strengthening stability in the region.
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
Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A.
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
Dr. Todor Tagarev