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ForMin: Black Sea Region to only surface strengthened from economic crisis with joint solutions

Bogdan Aurescu

The Black Sea Region will only surface strengthened from this major economic crisis only with joint solutions and mutual confidence, Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu told the informal meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which he chaired on Friday.

"Our region will only surface strengthened from this major economic crisis if we are willing, in spite of all our differences, to find joint solutions and if we are willing to promote better connectivity among us and within our region, by building confidence and trust. This is our best alternative if we want to forge a shared vision about a sustainable progress of the Black Sea region, especially in the context of a constantly evolving environment, still affected by a stark crisis that brings ahead of us a long journey towards post-COVID-19 recovery," the Foreign Affairs Minister emphasized.

Aurescu reconfirmed Romania's active commitment for stimulating regional cooperation in the extended Black Sea area, consistent with a substantial agenda on the economic dimension of cooperation, as well as modeality of promoting stability and prosperity in this region of strategic interest for Romania, reads a Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) release sent to AGERPRES.

According to MAE, the Romanian chief diplomat highlighted that, based on this constructive agreement and as an expression of its responsibility on a regional level, Romania has decided to extend, on an exceptional basis, the national mandate of Chairmanship-in-Office on the second half of 2020, after it got the approval of all member states on a package-solution meant to ensure the continuity of the following chairmanships-in-office.

The sustained demarches carried out by Romania to identify a consensual formula for ensuring the continuity of the future mandates of the organization's leadership, starting January 1, 2021, have thus led to unblocking the institutional setback by agreeing on the following chairmanships, successively assumed by Albania, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, MAE shows.

Aurescu also maintained the added value of the intergovernmental cooperation on a regional level, in supporting the national efforts of social-economic recovery after the pandemic crisis. The Foreign Minister underscored that the current challenges represent a test of solidarity and, implicitly, of the BSEC states' capacity of cooperation and coordination on a regional level, aimed at attaining an efficient response to this crisis.

He also stressed the macro-financial assistance offered by the EU for the support of the states of the Eastern Partnership and the Western Balkans, aimed at combatting the pandemic and at the social and economic recovery, an initiative reflecting both the EU solidarity towards these partner states and the importance granted to the sustainable development of the Black Sea region overall.

Furthermore, Aurescu also mentioned the significant financial and medical assistance support Romania offered, on a bilateral level, to some BSEC member states, such a the Republic of Moldova.

In respect to the BSEC cooperation, Bogdan Aurescu pointed to the importance of the need to draw up some innovating action priorities within the organization and making efficient the coordination among the member states in view to manage the social-economic consequences of the pandemic on a regional level, by encouraging the good practices exchange or by launching some more flexible cooperation formats.

The Foreign Minister reconfirmed Romania's "continuous" support for the pragmatic and flexible interaction BSEC - EU, which contributes to the consolidation of the common dimension of action in the region aimed at implementing concrete projects in sectoral areas, by capitalizing on the opportunities provided by the policies, initiatives and financial instruments allotted by the EU for the sustainable development at the Black Sea.

He emphasized the relevance for the region of thrusting the pragmatic cooperation initiated within the Common Maritime Agenda at the Black Sea and the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda at the Black Sea, documents adopted in Bucharest, in May 2019, during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

In accordance with the agenda priorities of the Romanian Chairmanship-in-Office on thrusting the BSEC - EU interaction, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi also participated in the Council of Ministers' informal meeting and he presented the activities of the European Commission regarding the concrete cooperation with the BSEC.

Also participating in the meeting were Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, and Deputies of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Georgia, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine.

The debates within the informal ministerial council meeting focused on the modalities in which the BSEC Organization can efficiently and coordinatedly respond on the regional cooperation dimension in view to manage the social -economic implications of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting also represented a stage report of the main activities and initiatives of Romania's Chairmanship-in-office at the BSEC during the first semester of this year.

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