Supplement to Geostrategic Pulse no. 209 - An analisys of the University Foundation of the Black Sea (UFBS): Towards a new NATO strategic concept in the Black Sea Region

An analisys of the University Foundation of the Black Sea (UFBS): Towards a new NATO strategic concept in the Black Sea Region
Nicolae Țîbrigan and Radu Cupcea | UFBS |

Twelve years ago, Ronald D. Asmus and Bruce P. Jackson justified the necessity of a coherent and lasting strategy of the North Atlantic Alliance towards the Black Sea Region through the famous manifesto „The Black Sea and the Frontiers of Freedom”. Unfortunately, now as in was the case in 2004, the Black Sea does not typify a particular strategic interest for the Euro-Atlantic community as it is referred to only as „securing the stability and security” of the riparian states of the Black Sea as mentioned in the official declaration of the heads of states and governments attending the NATO summit in Great Britain (para 18).

However, no matter how much would the experts wish to sidestep this region, the Black Sea caught the attention of many specialists and political decision-makers as a result of the changes of the geostrategic landscape, of the dynamics of the military situation of the Pontic Basin and  of the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. The Black Sea cannot be overlooked especially by Romania which should define a concrete and solid response concerning a possible updating of the regional strategic dossier that could find us unprepared when it comes to realigning to a new changes of ballance of power. Unfortunately, the political leadership of the Atlantic space understood too late that the hesitant policies with regards to additional eastward expansion and lack of regional coherent projects/strategies led to submitting the Black Sea to Russia’s influence. As a result, the international community got the most turbulent sea with actual „frozen/active conflicts” (Transnistrian region, Donbas, the separatist „republics” of Abkhazia and South-Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey’s south-eastern regions, North Caucasus) and the militarization of the Crimean Peninsula with A2/AD (anti-access capabilities and regional ban), through  deploying  navy defence missiles (with a range of 600 km), S-300PMU surface-to-air missiles (with a 200 km range and a Big Bird radar), SU-27 and SU-30M2 fighter jets, as well as by increasing the number of military deployed (around 23,000 servicemen now), submarines and electronic warfare. The region became a supplier of vulnerabilities and multiple risks, of conflict factors spread within the northern, north-western and north-eastern areas of Caucasus Region and the Middle East

In other words, the Black Sea is being transformed from an area with contact and communication potential among civilisations/cultures into a strategic fault line separating political and military blocks and integrating regional projects via an „Instability belt”. Undoubtedly, the Black Sea is now an area without a well-structured Pontic regional identity for the riparians, as it stands still divided and complicated, with many a problems which solutions are yet to be found.

„The Black Sea situation  is blue”

The region centered on the Black Sea is a  stone-still space with an uncertain fate. The former Pontus Euxinus of the Hellenistic world open to the Mediterranean through Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits ceased to represent after the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union a portion of the border separating the two political and military blocks. The 1990s opened for discussions the first regional project for a „Black Sea Common Market”. The idea, in fact the search for a geopolitical identity of the region, belonged to Turkish  leader Turgut Ozal. Following Istanbul Summit (1992) the Economic Community of the Black Sea (ECBS) was unveiled and had as political objective the peaceful resolve of disputes, promoting democracy, of human rights and the rule of law. Economically it was meant to setting up a liberalised trade area like the EU’s one. „ECBS Chart” signed in Yalta (June 1998) become the founding paper of  The Black Sea Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OCEMN-BSEC) with twelve members once Serbia joined it. In spite of a huge regional potential (an area of 2,2 mil. sq. km and around 350 mil. inhabitants), the organisation did not succeed in implementing bigger projects. The reasons of this structural inefectuality are more complex and are depicted at large by the the academic Mircea Malița in his collection of dialogues „History through a diplomat’s eyes”: „After creating the two bodies (BSEC and PABSEC) which worked willy-nilly it has been found out that the political one does not work properly. Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) headquarters were initially in Istanbul. […] However, the Turks made it more international in time even inviting a Soviet to preside there. The Russians had actually quite all general secretaries. They were making decisions there. Nothing worked in fact”.[1] Practically  OCEMN become a Turkey’s project supported by the Russian Federation in order to obstruct any other alternative projects in the region. OCEMN’s last project of scale implicitly supported by both Turkey and Russia was the Black Sea ringroad project, with an estimated cost of 19 bill. dollars. The four-lane highway of more than 7,000 km. long was to connect Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. Not even the feasibility studies were initiated after signing the Memorandum by the OCEMN’s member states and the new regional tensions shelved the project inside the ministries of transportation of the riparian states.

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back Published in 2016-03-05 Print Download up