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Prospects for the Black Sea ring 30 juin 2006

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, Russia / Russie, Turkey / Turquie.
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What the Papers Say Part A (Russia), June 29, 2006 Thursday

Olga Stroinova

An interview with Federation Council member Alexander Dzasokhov; The 27th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation was held in Yerevan, Armenia. Federation Council member Alexander
Dzasokhov discusses the results of the meeting and the work of this international parliamentary organization.

The 27th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABEC) was held in Yerevan, Armenia. Alexander Dzasokhov, Federation Council member for North Ossetia, headed the Russian parliamentary
delegation. Dzasokhov discusses the results of the meeting and the work of this international parliamentary organization.

Question: You have the richest experience of work in international parliamentary organizations. In the past, when you were a Duma member, you headed the Russian parliamentary delegation at meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe. Now you head of the Russian parliamentary delegation to PABEC.

Alexander Dzasokhov: PABEC is the youngest interstate organization that accumulates a big diversity of countries and peoples. It was established at the beginning of the 1990s when serious disintegration processes were underway in the Balkans. Afterwards, after breakup of the USSR, contours of the former Soviet Union were really formed. The tension of ethnic political conflicts is not relieved there. That is why for us, for Russia, PABEC is very interesting.

Question: So to speak, member states of the Black Sea economic cooperation form the Black Sea ring and, as we see, economy is the basis for the organization’s name. One of the member states, for example, Turkey has a stable state system. Some others are countries of the Greater Caucasus that have acquired their statehood quite recently. The region is very difficult. Do you manage to abstract yourself from politics absolutely ?

Alexander Dzasokhov: In working our of coordinated positions and decisions the incumbent generation of parliament members, politicians and state officials participating in activities of PABEC operates results of the events of the last 10-15 years. What happened in the Black Sea countries then had such serious
consequences that it was necessary to take this into account in agenda of the plenary meetings this way or the other. PABEC was established when PACE and OSCE already existed and this was not incidental that it was named organization
of the Black Sea economic cooperation because the founders wanted to get abstracted from politics and from very difficult issues that sometimes could not even be resolved. It is already possible to say that they have been right.
An organization was needed that could synthesize political problems through solving of economic problems. You are right saying that the region is

Let us recall that the ranks of participants of the Black Sea economic cooperation were formed with big difficulties. The organization will turn 15
years in 2007. Turkish politicians and parliament members stood at the cradle of this organization. They never questioned the fact that Russia should play an important role there. However, those who started this large geopolitical project were not ready to see the current composition of participants in the organization, a part of them
being in a state of conflict with each other. If the principle we will not accept any country having no Black Sea coast or we will not accept any country that has conflicts with the others has been followed the organization would not have been established at all.

As a result of very difficult discussions and motivations there is Armenia in PABEC because it is connected with the Black Sea countries with life bonds. Now the organization includes 12 countries. Countries located far from the Black Sea already manifested their interest in their presence in the organization. For instance, Belarus already received a status of observer. At the next general assembly the Czech Republic will be included into PABEC. The US and Canada are
standing in a queue. I presume that sooner or later Middle Eastern countries including Iran will enter the organization too. That is why it is impossible to fully rule out the political components and this would probably be not quite

Question: Was the recent session of PABEC in Yerevan different from the previous ones ?

Alexander Dzasokhov: Unfortunately, we need to admit that unregulated conflicts have the biggest density among the Greater Caucasus countries. These are Armenia-Azerbaijan, Georgia-South Ossetia, Georgia-Abkhazia, that is why I take the proposal of Armenian President Robert Kocharyan « not to wait until regulation of all conflicts and to start development of the economic projects planned a long time ago » as a real political stance. Our economic plans should not be overlaid on the conflicts that exist in the Black Sea region. We should progress significantly in development of our trading, infrastructure and energy projects that will contribute to resolving of the conflicts hanging above our countries.

Question: Is there such project that can unite the conflicting countries?

Alexander Dzasokhov: It is necessary to say that there is still a huge deficit in correct and realistic representation of the role of PABEC. Externally, there is frequency of organization of various meetings and so on. As to the really meaningful part with possible potential result in Russia and in the Caucasian countries it does not exist yet. I am convinced that Russia with its southern regions, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan should check opportunities of economic interaction and then understanding and readiness for more efficient and detailed participation in the Black Sea economic cooperation would change qualitatively.

Let us take, for example, energy being one of the most problems for the region. Experts say that Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have such hydro energy potential that they can generate 140 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a
year. However, possibilities of hydro energy are used in the mountainous rivers of the Caucasus only by 9-10% now. Turkey needs purchase of electric energy and Caucasian republics need these resources too. Here is already one project.
As you know, the European Union proposed a new transport project TRASECA to connect European countries with Asia via the Caucasus. This is a kind of clone of the Great Silk Road. The authors of this project moved the route to the
south of our borders under the influence of political situation of the middle of the 1990s. Now European countries, for example, Germany and Scandinavian countries, understand that this project is expensive and it is necessary to
correct it. Natural and recreational wealth of the Black Sea with their mineral waters is very big. This may be another joint project. What is the most interesting what should be done now is construction of modern transportation routes on the Black Sea coast. If four countries, namely Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, worked out common energy, transportation and environmental projects, I am convinced that potential allies would join this « nucleus. » First of all, these are Iran and Turkey.

Question: Everything that we speak about is only a wishful thinking yet.

Alexander Dzasokhov: History has proven frequently that relations between big and large nations and between the states are primarily determined by relations between the leaders of these countries and nations. Of course, the epoch in which we work now is remarkable because some leaders of the post-Soviet states probably think like this: now it is possible to use the overall configuration of forces and to strengthen our positions relying on the states located far overseas. They think that the less is the influence of Russia the bigger is the influence of Europe or America. Along with this, having no common borders with Europe and moreover with America they wish to become members of the European
Union and NATO. There is an absolutely different example of the group of leaders and post-Soviet states in the Asian region who reflect expectations of their citizens more accurately. Of course, relations among politicians and leaders of the Greater Caucasus countries are uneven but the latest session in Yerevan has shown that new trends appear in these relations. The next 28th
general assembly of PABEC will be held in November in Azerbaijan and I think that reassignment of the post of the chair from Armenia to Azerbaijan opens new opportunities for strengthening of relations in the Caucasus.

Question: To what extent is the executive branch involved in Black Sea economic cooperation activities ?

Alexander Dzasokhov: Discussion about the multi-polar world played its role. Look how many serious regional organizations were created by now. These are Council of Europe, European Union, CIS, Euro-Asian Economic Community, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, APEC. It is possible to say that multi-polar world is making its way. As for representatives of executive branch bodies in activities of PABEC, I will only indicate the issues that are discussed at permanent meetings of representatives of the executive branch bodies. These are combating of economic crimes, creation of tourist programs and simplification of the visa regime. On the nearest agenda there is energy security. A big work is being done by non-governmental organizations that send signals to us with regard to migration issues and wages formation. In the Caucasus alone more than 2 million people are involved in migration processes. Incidentally, activities of PABEC are currently based in the Caucasus. Now the general assembly was held in Yerevan.

Azerbaijan will chair it in the next six months. That is why we hope very much that in the framework of our discussions we will manage to increase the level of interaction of Russia and other Caucasus countries.

Source: Parlamentskaya Gazeta, June 28, 2006, pp. 1, 7 Translated by Pavel Pushkin


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