|Date||8 October 1999|
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Agenda item 168
Granting of observer status in the General Assembly for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization
Draft resolution (A/54/L.8)
I give the floor to the representative of Greece to introduce draft resolution A/54/L.8.
It is an honour and a pleasure for me to briefly take the floor in order to introduce draft resolution A/54/L.8 on the granting of observer status in the General Assembly for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Greece has submitted this draft resolution, under item 168 of the agenda, in its capacity as holder of the presidency of the organization, a post that rotates on a six-monthly basis.
The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) came into existence in 1992 as an intergovernmental mechanism aimed at establishing a network of economic cooperation among its 11 founding member States, namely Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine.
BSEC functioned effectively, in its initial form as an intergovernmental forum, until 1 May 1999, when it was transformed into a regional international organization under the name "Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization". According to its Charter, adopted at the summit meeting in Yalta on 4 and 5 June 1998, the BSEC institutional structure consists of, inter alia, a Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, a Chairman-in-Office, a Troika, a Committee of Senior Officials, a permanent international secretariat, and a number of working groups on a variety of topics such as economies, finance, science and technology, communications, tourism and the environment.
In addition, since its inception, BSEC has been gradually extending its scope by developing a grid of international relations. Nine States have already acquired observer status: Austria, France, Germany, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Tunisia. Many others have applied for such status, and their requests are currently under consideration. Observer status has also been exchanged with the Energy Charter Conference.
Furthermore, BSEC has been productively cooperating with various international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, as well as within the framework of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe.
The principles and objectives enshrined in BSEC's Charter are broadly supportive of, and in complete harmony with, those embodied in the United Nations Charter. Since its very first steps, BSEC has energetically pursued friendship, good-neighbourliness, mutual respect, confidence, dialogue and cooperation in a wide variety of fields ranging from development, economies and finance, health care, and science and technology to the fight against terrorism and organized crime, including the illicit trafficking of drugs. BSEC has, in effect, consistently used economic means with a view to promoting also politically significant goals and, in particular, peace, security and stability in the entire Black Sea region.
Two years ago, in Yalta, the heads of State or Government of BSEC decided to seek observer status in the United Nations General Assembly in the conviction that this would substantially benefit both organizations and enable them to promote and enhance their economic and social efforts, contribute to the establishment of a common approach and joint policies, and avoid unnecessary contradictions and duplication.
Furthermore, obtaining observer status would greatly assist BSEC itself not only in consolidating the positive results already achieved so far, but also in continuing, with renewed vigour, its endeavours in pursuance of its noble goals and principles.
Before I conclude, I would like, on behalf of the member States of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, to extend our heartfelt thanks to the numerous delegations that sponsored this draft resolution. I should like also to mention some others that have joined the list of sponsors: Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Slovenia and Uruguay. Our heartfelt thanks go also to those delegations.
I would be grateful if all the delegations present here would kindly lend their support to this draft so that it could be adopted by consensus.
I should like at the outset to express the Romanian Government's satisfaction at the inclusion on the agenda of this session the item regarding the granting of observer status in the General Assembly to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSECO). The granting of such status would represent additional support for the States members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization in their efforts for regional integration as well as in the broader global integration process.
The June 1992 Declaration establishing the Organization demonstrates the will of the participating States to develop among themselves broad economic cooperation, to work together to transform the Black Sea region into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity and to promote friendly and good-neighbourly relations.
For Romania, participating in this cooperative structure enables us to accelerate our economic and social development and our process of integration into the European Union. As a founding country, Romania actively supported the idea of transforming the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization into a regional economic organization with its own identity and a unified position in its relations with other international organizations. Hence, prestigious international organizations such as the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have expressed an interest in granting observer status to the BSECO or are already supporting the activities of the organization.
Cooperation with the BSECO is being strengthened by the initiation, in June 1999, of the activities of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, whose headquarters are in Thessaloniki, and which will be providing financial support for cooperation projects in the region. Likewise, the memorandum of cooperation between the BSECO and the European Union, adopted on 30 April 1999, attests to the interest that the organization attaches to relations with the European Union. In this context, particular importance is accorded to the European Union's decision to provide assistance, through its regional programmes, to countries members of the organization so as to carry out the projects initiated within the organization as well as to participate on a permanent basis in BSECO meetings.
Starting on 1 November 1999 and for the duration of its chairmanship of the BSECO in 2000 -- and in the context of its membership, with Greece and the Republic of Moldova, in the troika of the organization -- Romania intends to identify specific ways of cooperating with other neighbouring cooperative organizations, including the Central European Initiative, the Mediterranean Initiative, the Baltic Council, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The step that we are taking today is being given concrete expression in draft resolution A/54/L.8. Initiated by Greece on behalf of the Chairman of the organization and supported by Romania and all the members of the organization, that draft resolution would grant observer status to the BSECO in the General Assembly and represents an important step in affirming the role of the BSECO on the political and economic stage at the international level.
The delegation of Armenia is pleased to join the sponsors of draft resolution A/54/L.8, on the granting of observer status in the General Assembly for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, which was introduced today by the delegation of Greece.
Throughout its centuries-long history, the Black Sea basin has been a region with many problems and an area where the interests of different countries have intersected. Meanwhile, the tendency towards strengthening cooperation in the region is becoming more and more dominant. The establishment of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization is a remarkable manifestation of this positive tendency. At the current stage, the States members of the BSECO differ both in the level of their economic development and in their approach towards the regulation of the economic process. They also have different views on regional problems, the solution of which will require a determined stance and resolute political will on the part of the leaders of the States of the region. It was the desire to create a real basis for regional economic integration that drove 11 countries of the Black Sea region to found an organization which will lead their societies towards a common understanding of the indivisibility of their political destiny.
The objectives of the BSECO remain clear and understandable: to develop an equal partnership, to strive for a better life for the peoples of the region and to achieve the prosperity of all Black Sea countries in the interest of peace and stability. Regional economic cooperation, which aims to transform the different national economies through dialogue, mutual respect, confidence and conciliation, will significantly contribute to success in the complex process of transition to a market economy and will ultimately lead to the consolidation of a beneficial partnership in all fields of common interest.
Since independence, Armenia has been expressing its firm commitment to developing regional cooperation, and we are a founding member of and an active participant in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Armenia has always considered the BSECO to be a promising model for fostering interaction and harmony among the participating States, and we believe that it will undoubtedly contribute to the creation of a Europe-wide economic space in the future and promote understanding and security in the region.
Armenia believes that efficient and effective cooperation among the Black Sea countries will help consolidate the strategic economic potential inherent in this area, promote free trade, open roads and other means of communication and foster the welfare of peoples, thus stimulating the peaceful settlement of existing political disputes and reinforcing the independence, sovereignty and democratic development of the BSECO member States. We attach great importance to the financial pillar of the BSECO, the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, which has recently started operations. The Bank is to become the principal mechanism of the BSECO in working out, financing and implementing joint regional projects and providing financial resources for the participating States.
Much has been done in the seven years since the BSECO was founded, although there are still certain difficulties. These may be accounted for by the fact that the majority of countries in the organization are going through a period of reform and transition to a market economy and are searching for an economic model for their development and role in regional processes. Accordingly, they need to search for new, adequate ways and means of strengthening the BSECO process. Putting the main emphasis on discovering additional reserves in the BSECO region itself, the member States must use the significant resources that are at the disposal of other international organizations and regional structures. A number of them, including the Council of Baltic Sea States, the Central European Initiative, the South-East European Cooperative Initiative and the Economic Cooperation Organization, are interested in collaborating with the BSECO in areas of common interest. The tendency of a number of countries to pay greater attention to the activities of the BSECO and to apply either for observer status or full membership in the organization is also worth noting.
Guided by the principle of BSECO openness towards the global economic environment, member States are further developing activities aimed at promoting fruitful working relations with other international organizations and institutions whose own experience could be beneficial to the needs of the BSECO countries. Contacts between the BSECO and other regional and international organizations include exchanges of information and documentation, working visits and participation in each other's events. It was the principle of openness towards the outside world which motivated the member States when, two years ago in Yalta, they took the important decision to apply for observer status for the BSECO in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Good traditions of partnership already exist with the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The ECE has provided support in the organization of joint workshops for BSEC countries on specific subjects regarding multilateral economic cooperation, while UNIDO is engaged in projects in the field of environmental protection.
Armenia believes that observer status in the General Assembly would facilitate the fulfilment of BSEC's mission and significantly increase the organization's weight in the international arena. I would like to conclude by expressing the hope that the General Assembly will give its unanimous support to the draft resolution before us.
The Assembly will now take a decision on draft resolution A/54/L.8. May I take it that the General Assembly decides to adopt that draft resolution?
May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its consideration of agenda item 168?