YEREVAN (Radiolur)–An international conference entitled Enlarged Black Sea Region: Prospects of International and Regional Security began Monday in Yerevan. Organized by the Armenian International Economic Policy Research Group with assistance from the OSCE, NATO, the Kingdom of Netherlands and the Union of Alumnae of the Yerevan State University, the two-day conference features political and public figures, analysts, scholars, political scientists from a number of countries, including Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby, who was also in attendance, addressed the conference on the issue of unsolved conflicts. These conflicts, he said, are the heritage of the collapse of the Soviet Union and double the challenges existing in the region.
"The unsolved conflicts hamper the stability in the region and in some cases present concern with regard to the possible escalation in the future," Semneby remarked. "Despite the unexpected economic growth in the region, the South Caucasus is still associated with problems and conflicts."
The most complex conflict in the region is that of Nagorno-Karabakh, Semneby but one should never get disappointed, he said in response to a question by Armradio.
"I still continue to hope that there will be progress in the direction of the Karabakh conflict resolution. At this point diplomacy continues and I hope that it will yield results," he said. "I hope that the presidential elections will be a good opportunity for raising the question."
The Black Sea Region has acquired a special degree of importance for the EU. Semneby noted. The South Caucasus, he said, has come closer to the EU border and are becoming full neighbors of the European Union.
According to Semneby, the development of relations with countries of the South Caucasus is one of the EU’s priorities. The European diplomat emphasized the "necessity of diversification of transport and energy routes, where an important strategic role belongs to the countries of the South Caucasus situated on the crossroads of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East."
Semneby called the Black Sea region "the place where world powers meet to solve the issues of fighting organized crime, illegal migration, opening of closed borders and unsolved conflicts."
In a video address to the conference, the Special Representative of NATO Secretary General for the South Caucasus and Central Asia Robert Simmons declared that the Black Sea region can play a very important role in maintaining international security and stability.
Simmons noted that there are a great number of problems in the region, which need to be solved and emphasized the necessity of developing economic and energy ties between the countries of the Black Sea basin. He also declared NATO’s willingness to promote the processes of regional development and stability.
"Although NATO is not immediately involved in the negotiations on the settlement of regional conflicts, we do hope that the parties will manage to come to terms and find solutions," he declared.