Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan reiterated the new Armenian government’s commitment to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) during the group’s recent meeting in Yerevan, but warned against bringing political tensions to the table. BSEC member states include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Russia, among eight others.
“Persistent attempts by some member states to abuse and politicize the BSEC platform not only negatively affect the multilateral economic cooperation in the region, but also the core foundations of the organization,” Mnatsakanyan said. “Such attempts undermine the credibility of the BSEC as an effective regional economic organization. We should resolutely prevent such dangerous trends, including within the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly, which has to support the core goals of the organization rather than to engage in parallel activities independently from the rest of the BSEC. Furthermore, open borders, depoliticized, unconstrained, free and inclusive regional economic cooperation as the key objectives of this organization, are also important requisites for the promotion of regional stability and peace.”
Mnatsakanyan emphasized the organization’s role regarding the promotion of regional economic and commercial cooperation, as well as for advancing goals of regional peace, prosperity and stability. He described Armenia’s active role in promoting this mission.
“These objectives were also at the heart of our chairmanship,” Mnatsakanyan said. “Over the past six months, we held two meetings of the Committee of Senior Officials, 14 meetings of working groups and two Ministerial Meetings on Education and Tourism. The Green Energy Strategy was finally adopted, following the nearly six years of deliberations. The Steering Committee of the Black Sea Project Promotion Facility adopted a project proposed by Armenia on Information and Communication Technologies and the Small and Medium Enterprises.”
Mnatsakanyan further highlighted Armenia’s contributions to the organization.
“As a Country-Coordinator of the BSEC Working Group on Information and Communication Technologies, and with considerable capacity for ICTs and software development, Armenia has been consistently promoting result-oriented cooperation among the member states in this field,” he said. “In 2019, Armenia will host the World Congress on Information Technologies.”
He invited BSEC member states to make use of the opportunity to share and mutually benefit from the collective experiences of other member states, encouraging the advancement of robust regional cooperation.
“The sustainable tourism development bears considerable potential for cooperation in the BSEC area. Armenia has initiated the ‘Silk Road Wine Trail’ project and promotes its implementation also through the BSEC-UNWTO cooperation framework. The project already enjoys the support of some BSEC member states. We encourage others to join,” the Minister noted.
He added that, with regards to entrepreneurialism, Armenia values stronger engagement, promotion of and support for small and medium-sized business interactions within the BSEC economic community. Working with other regional organizations and integration platforms would further strengthen and aid BSEC’s economic objectives, he said.
“Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, which opens customs-free access to a strong market of over 180 million consumers,” Mnatsakanyan said. “Armenia also enjoys strong and extensive cooperation with the European Union with the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement as its legal foundation. This October, Armenia will host the 17th Summit of the International Organization of La Francophonie. Within the framework of the summit, we will host a Francophone Business Forum to provide a solid platform for regional and global business actors, government and civil society representatives from over 80 countries. Needless to say, we would look forward to welcoming our BSEC partners and their business communities at this forum.”
During the meeting, Armenia handed over BSEC chairmanship to Azerbaijan, per the organization’s term requirements.