Russia not to join Romanian Black Sea Euro-region project - Romanian report

Rompres news agency
31 Mar 06

Bucharest, 31 March: The representative of the Russian Federation at
the Conference for the launch of the Black Sea Euro-region project,
director with the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Vladimir Lebedenko,
expressed Russia's stand in this issue, which distances itself from
the adoption of the Political Statement regarding the establishment
of this body.

Government representatives from the other riparian countries of the
extended Black Sea area - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia,
Greece, Turkey, the Republic of Moldova and Bulgaria - expressed
their support for the project proposed by Romania and the Congress
of the Local and Regional Authorities (CLRA) of the Council of Europe.

Vladimir Lebedenko specified that Russia did not take part in the
preparation of this document and does not consider itself bound to
express support.

The Russian diplomat also voiced reserves regarding this initiative,
pointing out that such ideas are fine and interesting, but for the
time being, his country cannot commit to supporting them because it
is yet unclear if the new body would not overlap with the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation Organization (BSECO).

President of the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities
Giovanni di Stasi voiced confidence that, in the end, Russia will
join the Black Sea Euro-region project, the more so as the Russian
authorities have proven openness to the cross-border cooperation
methods initiated by CLRA, as they offered support for CLRA's opening,
in the coming months, in St Petersburg, of a centre that will offer
assistance with the establishment of a similar project in the Baltic
Sea region.

"We will continue the dialogue with our partners from Russia and I
believe we will succeed in persuading them to join us," said Giovanni
di Stasi.

In his turn, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis,
underscored that this initiative is not "binding" for all the Black
Sea riparian countries, but that their own will was at the basis of
the project. However, he insisted on the utility of the Euro-region
project, pointing out that a climate of cooperation needs to be
established between the local authorities in the area, aimed at
eradicating pollution, corruption and the trafficking of humans
and weapons.

Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu expressed his opinion
that the initiative of the Black Sea Euro-region does not overlap
with BSECO's activity object, underscoring that cooperation is very
frail in the Pontic area, so that this body's coming into being would
be beneficial.

In the end of the Conference on regional cooperation, the
representatives of the Novorossiysk region joined the final common
statement assumed by the participants that represented the local
authorities from Black Sea riparian countries and CLRA.

The statement sets 2007 as the deadline for the establishment of the
Euro-region, as a concrete dialogue body between the local elects
from the mentioned countries, and also provides the establishment of
a standing technical secretariat that will facilitate the dialogue
until 2007. According to Giovanni di Stasi, the technical secretariat
will be probably based in the Romanian city of Constanta and will be
staffed with Romanian experts.

The next Black Sea inter-regional cooperation meting will take place
in the Turkish city of Samsun.

The Black Sea Euro-region is the first form of regional partnership
accomplished with the support and contribution of European institutions
- the Council of Europe and the European Union - that will represent
the main funding sources for the concrete projects that will be drawn
up by the local authorities from the coast areas of the Pontic basin.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress