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Leaders Of Black Sea States To Discuss Economic Ties


http://gdb.rferl.org/466B9449-4ED4-4FFF-9945-8970694132B8_w203.gif --> http://gdb.rferl.org/466B9449-4ED4-4FFF-9945-8970694132B8_mw800_mh600.gif (RFE/RL) June 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders of 12 countries in the Black Sea region will gather on June 25 in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, to discuss projects aimed at boosting economic cooperation and trade.


The summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) marks the 15th anniversary of the grouping, which was founded following the collapse of the Soviet Union, with an aim to promote stability and economic ties between nations in the region.

New Force Needed


Turkey, which currently chairs the BSEC, says it wants to give new force to the organization founded in 1992.

Ankara is calling for increased efforts toward expanding regional cooperation in the areas of transport, energy, trade, environmental protection, and combating organized crime.

One of the major objectives on the group's agenda is developing transport infrastructure, including projects for regular maritime links between the ports of member states and a 7,500-kilometer road along the Black Sea coast.

The BSEC includes the six Black Sea littoral states -- Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine -- as well as neighboring Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Moldova, and Serbia. The area is the second-largest source of oil and natural gas, after the Gulf region.

One of the major objectives on the group's agenda is developing transport infrastructure, including projects for regular maritime links between the ports of member states and a 7,500-kilometer road along the Black Sea coast.

The organization is also seeking to remove legal barriers to trade and develop closer cooperation with the European Union.

High Attendance


The vice president of the European Commission, Guenter Verheugen, is expected to attend the summit.

All member countries are due to be represented by their presidents or prime ministers. The one exception is Armenia, which will be represented by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.

Turkey and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations, and their 270-kilometer common border has been closed since 1993.

Ahead of the summit meeting, the foreign ministers of member states will hold a separate round of talks on the morning of June 25.


The same day, the annual "East Meets West: New Frontiers of Energy Security" conference starts in Istanbul. Azerbaijan and Georgia's president Ilham Aliyev and Mikheil Saakashvili are due to address participants during the three-day event.

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