Grant Mikaelian, Researcher at the Institute of the Caucasus (Erevan, Armenia)

Today the Black Sea Region must make a choice between developing internal integration in close relation with other structures and preserving the tension on its borders. The BSEC provides a good opportunity for further promoting mutually advantageous economic cooperation. The organization is primarily valuable in that it gives a boost to the development of production, rather than commerce. Today, along with Greece, Russia and Turkey are playing the main organizational roles, striving to develop the BSEC as a structure equal in status to the EU.

Armenia has also been interested in implementing Black Sea integration programs, especially the building of the Black Sea Ring Highway (HWBSR). Making use of regional potential will promote a leap in economic development similar to the one Europe once made, although the world economic crisis may have a certain slowing impact on this process.

1. The BSEC and the Black Sea Region

1.1. The Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation

The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) was instituted in May 1999 on the basis of an Agreement on Black Sea Economic Cooperation entered in 1992. Eleven countriesTurkey, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Albaniaare the founders of the organization, Serbia joining them later. Hereafter, when referring to these countries, we will use the term Greater Black Sea Region.

The BSEC not only encompasses countries located in the littoral region of the Black Sea, but also those that do not have access to it. The organization has an institution of observers, they are representatives from European and Mediterranean countries, such as France, Germany, Austria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Poland, the U.S., and others. The BSEC also has the status of observer in the U.N.

The Council of Foreign Ministers is the organizations main working structure, which meets once every six months. There is also the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly, which represents the national parliaments of the member states and provides ongoing consultations.

The population of the BSEC countries amounts to 330 million people. It is one of the worlds most dynamically developing regions in the economic respect. The organizations headquarters are in Istanbul, while the Bosporus Strait provides a gateway to the Black Sea.

1.2. Member States

Most of the BSEC member states are at the transition stage in their development and lag economically behind the West European countries. In contrast to the Southeast Asian statesJapan, Singapore, and

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