Unity Through Security: Assumptions, Opportunities, Suggestions. Part 2


Discussing regional cooperation has become increasingly frequent at different forums or gatherings in the Black Sea region, and this rising interest is absolutely logical given the geopolitical and geo-economic developments the region is witnessing. In general, many bilateral or multilateral papers have been dedicated to relations in the Black Sea region.

This tendency is of course welcome, but there remains the feeling that the Black sea region is still not being paid a quality and level of attention commensurate with current events. Many also feel that the region is undervalued, and that the responses to certain challenges that have been proposed to date do not reflect the region’s true geopolitics, an opinion that we share.

The importance of the Black Sea region as a geopolitically distinct space is undeniably great if we consider the Black Sea’s status; the maritime transport arteries that cross it; its proximity to two large normative camps; its role as a vital gate on NATO’s eastern flank; and, finally, the region’s role as a ‘safety locker’ for Western security between Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Even this short list would be enough grounds to increase the essential recognition of the Black Sea region in terms of international and regional security.

In a word, it is urgent that regional efforts towards a Black Sea format of cooperation be intensified, and the sooner the better. That said, these efforts should be pursued with appropriate levels of caution and observation, with every risk being carefully calculated. Such a balanced approach is dictated by the region’s specificity, particularly considering ongoing geopolitical (and not ethnic) conflicts, the problem of Russian occupation and Russia’s aggressive policy, the peculiar legal status of the Turkish Straits, and so on. It would indeed be inadmissible for these rather important circumstances to limit the priorities of those Black Sea states that are striving towards integration with Western geopolitical civilization. What must also be considered is the fact that, in order to better outline the Black Sea region, any initiative must unambiguously do away with the supposed ostensible weakening of Western strategic interest in the region: every step taken by parties interested in the proper development of the Black Sea region should debunk any doubts over its ‘peripherality’ and ‘secondary status’.

At the same time, it is essential that actions to establish a Black Sea ‘free unity’ be in alignment with the principles of modern diplomacy; that they be as compact and purposeful as possible; that they be flexible and immediately adaptable to regional challenges; and that they represent a modern multilateral and regional-thematic model fitted to real scenarios.

Considering all this, we believe that the signing of a Black Sea declaration would be a proper step in the right direction. Such a document would underline the unity of interests of Black Sea states as well as the United States’ firm and irreversible interest in our region. It is noteworthy that, along with the other issues that its signature would imply, such a declaration made by a strategic ally would send another strong signal that the West does not recognize Russia’s ‘zone of influence’ in the Black Sea region, and does not recognize any other revisionist or authoritarian country’s view of it.

By mentioning the uniqueness and specificity of the Black Sea region in the format of complex measures directed towards common Eurasian stability, the Black Sea declaration, on its own, would be a step towards the establishment of stability and peace in the region. The declaration should also define grounds for the repeated assessment and revision, if required, of regional security principles. Doing so would give a green light to defining a new and regional modus vivendi in alignment with current times.

We would also consider it vital to draw the attention of the declaration’s participants (declarants) to the need to attract additional investments in the region. A preliminary ‘warm-up’ idea for declaring a large-scale regional project might for example be a ‘Black Sea Prosperity (Development) Network’, whose aims we would consider including the mobilization of financial resources for the development of regional infrastructure, decreasing dependence on certain energy resources and carrying out social and environmental programs.

One of the advantages of the Black Sea Declaration format lies in its freedom from formalized structures, and at the initial stage this format should exclude the creation of standing institutions. At the same time, in order to ensure proper coordination, it would be advisable to hold regular high-level summits between the heads of the declaration’s members and high-ranking US officials. In order to do so, as a kind of ‘work in progress’ note, we would suggest a ‘Black Sea Declaration [Number of Members]+1’ format. We believe that the role of such regular summits would be to support the independence of the region’s countries as well as their sovereignty and territorial integrity; the summit’s participants would also discuss regional geopolitical (pseudo-ethnic) conflicts and other issues of general regional security, international terrorism, cyber security, illegal migration and other relevant topics.

It would be advisable for the declaration to underline US activity in different regional projects, from defense to culture, as this would serve as a strong lever for the region’s integration with Western shared political unity.

We also believe that a Black Sea Declaration should prepare the ground for future trade agreements, properly configured for a regional scale of coverage, or even for the establishment of one or several complimentary trade blocs.

Concluding Statements

New threats in the Black Sea region indisputably increase the relevance of Georgia’s efforts, and those of its international allies and partners, to minimize regional risks and attempt to neutralize some of them. Achieving this process requires adequate levels of competence, courage, purposefulness and vision, as well as leadership.

To repeat it again: there is a prevailing assumption that the world currently lacks the resources and readiness to rapidly progress along the most desirable path. It is certainly true that we hear many declarations and considerations where considerable part of them seems lacking specificity and a proper connection to reality. Our extraordinary, non-standard times demand extraordinary, non-standard approaches. What is certain is that Georgia and its strategic ally and other partners are currently at a ‘historic turning point’, and that a successful outcome is our common and long-term interest, as well as a matter of honor.

By Victor Kipiani, Geocase, Chairman

Image source: bsec-organization.org

17 December 2020 19:03