28 May 2006 - BLACK SEA REGION CRITICAL FOR EURO-ATLANTIC SECURITY SAY NATO POLITICIANS [PRESS COMMUNIQUE]
The importance of the Black Sea for Euro-Atlantic security was highlighted at the spring meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's (NATO PA) Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security in Paris today (Sunday).
In their very lucid addresses to the Committee, Mr Lubomir Ivanov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to NATO and Mr Ovidiu Dranga, Director General for Political Affairs in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pleaded for a greater involvement of Euro-Atlantic institutions in the Black Sea region.
The two speakers underlined the strategic relevance of the Black Sea for Euro-Atlantic institutions both in terms of challenges and in terms of opportunities. As Europe's enlargement is bringing its new borders to the shores of the Black Sea, Mr Ivanov urged parliamentarians to "build a gate, not a wall". It was time to recognise the potential contribution of the region to security and prosperity in the Euro-Atlantic area.
Both speakers regretted the lack of a strategic vision, within Euro-Atlantic institutions, of the Black Sea region as such and called for a "comprehensive, multifaceted and concerted" approach to the region. Promoting democracy and stability in the Black Sea could become a new transatlantic project. According to Mr Dranga, "the Black Sea can become a new hub of cooperation among Russia, the United States and the European union for mutual economic and security benefits, in partnership with the countries in the region".
Two areas in particular could be of particular interest for Euro-Atlantic policies: maritime security and energy security. The latter area was crucial both for the region, which is a major corridor for energy resources from Russia, from the Caspian Sea, as well as from the Middle East, and for Euro-Atlantic partners.
Mssrs Ivanov and Dranga were more cautious as to the role of regional and Euro-Atlantic organisations in assisting with the resolution of the so-called frozen conflicts in Abkahzia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. However, according to Mr Ivanov, Euro-Atlantic institutions can contribute by "apply[ing] concerted leverage aimed at furthering the positive momentum".
Both addresses supported a report on the Black Sea region presented by the Rapporteur of the Sub-committee on Democratic Governance, Bert Middel (NL), which explores opportunities for regional cooperation in the Black Sea and for greater involvement of Euro-Atlantic institutions in the region.