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The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and Turkey

The BSECO should be put  into the category of not ‘regionalization’ but ‘region-building’ since ‘regionalization’ is a natural and passive process without a conscious  or programmed human activity but region-building is an active process with a conscious human subject. (see Saarikoski, 1995, pp.228-229) and should be regarded as the result of  two main changes: 1.The new international political system and  2.The neo-regionalist concept and the necessity of rethinking of the regional groupings. Since these two gave way to the establishment of the BSECO it would be ideal to explain those two roughly.

The new international political system prepared a suitable milieu for flourishing the BSECO ideal. As we all know the balance of the new international political system is largely based on the notions such as unity/globalism/interdependence/universalism in every field from economy to politics. In stead of dividing or categorising the countries having similar characteristics  into one group against another group of countries for the sake of ideology or political purposes, the world has started to be regarded as  one big region, containing  small or medium size  regions or other sub-regions.

In this process while the regional groupings, built according to the political and economic  needs of  the Cold War period, are gaining  more importance, the need  for  setting up  the new regional groupings has started to be felt more profoundly. “On December 4, 1996 more than 300 European regions with diverse territorial, administrative and political goals, representing the interests of  more than 400 million residents, proceeding from their aspiration toward further regionalization within the institutional framework of their respective countries and taking into account the importance of the process of the integration and regionalization, adopted a Declaration of Regionalism in Europe” (Stoliarov, 1997, p.119). So, this gave way to the activation  of the bare ideas related  to  building  new regional  groupings. In this context, we should give a response to the question “Why the regionalization and the region-building are getting more  and more important  in the new  international political system. The explanation will also ease to understand the responsibilities  of the BSECO.

First of all, the regional groupings are regarded as the main confidece-building measure. Preliminary conclusions of a research project by the Institute for East West studies, which looked at six such organizations, indicate that “they continue to make a contribution to the stability and the security of Euro-Atlantic area and that there is a strong  synergy between the sub-regional process and integration” (Bailes,1997, pp.27-34). Taking the importance of global security for the planned single Europe into consideration, security in the Balkans and the Black Sea region will also bear importance since the mentioned regions have always been the most conflicting regions in history.

Secondly, the new Europe strongly needs economically stable countries which solved economic shortcomings largely and set up economic structures. According to the EU members the structure of the planned single Europe are strongly against the membership of the countries which will certainly bring economic problems together with their underdeveloped economic vision (Schwok, 1997, pp.107-115). For this reason, the EU believes that regional groupings will help transition economies be better off by preparing their member countries for the specific economic and social rules of the EU with in a small group.

Thirdly, the new international political system needs political maturity so as not to have negative experiences lived before due to the political immaturity. Partly the new system gives support to the setting up the new regional groupings assuming that these groupings will remove negative political rivalries, political hatred and extreme nationalist aims. The superpowers of the new system also believe that the countries politically, economically and socially developed more will be good examples for the countries  which lacked human rights, democratization, good-neighbourly relations  during the Cold War period  by playing a pioneeering role in the region.

Fourthly, in the new international political system hard security issues such as inter state wars, nuclear rivalries, risky armament, military superiority etc. have been replaced  by soft security  issues such as drug smuggling, money laundering, sex trade, terrorism, extreme nationalism, environmentalism, pluralistic democracy, market economy  etc. In encountering soft security issues, the Western European countries strongly support region-building process and building regional groupings arguing that by improving bilateral and multilateral social, economic and cultural relations, the regional groupings will solve those kinds of problems by themselves for a secure Europe (Lodgaard, 1993, pp.7-24).

Fiftly, for the planned integrated Europe, the region rather than the nation-state has gradually become the focal point of the international development. “The time of the roman strategy of  ‘divide et impera’  seems to be replaced  by ‘the golden age of   regional harmony’ ” (Bleda, 1991, p.19). Based on this view, region-building is thought to be the preparatory process in which the regional groupings experience to co-operate almost in every field for a united Europe.

Depending on the explanations above; the new international political system and the West’s supportive attitude towards building new regional groupings  and regionalization both paved the way to  the BSECO.

In this article we will discuss four main points; in the first part, the function of Turkey in the establishment process of the BSECO; in  the second part, the BSEC with its  structure, aims  and outcomes, the importance of the Black Sea region and  the obstacles  which make  the  cooperation difficult; in the third part, the internal and external advantages  the BSECO presents; and in the last part some suggestions for the well-being of the BSECO.

KONA, Gamze (1999). “Mustanmeren alueen talousyhteistyö ja Turkki” (“The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and Turkey”), pp. 117-138, published in Nkökulmıa Ja Tausoja Kaakois – Euroopan Nykytilanteelle (“Balkan 2000” Project), Turku University – Department of Political History Press 17, 1999, Turku – Finland. ISBN 952-29-1414-X

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