Moscow will host 47th Plenary Session of the PABSEC General Assembly on June 29-30, 2016. Russian Federation is a current presiding country from January to June 2016. Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Turkey are invited as member-states. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also planning to invite representatives of annexed Crimea and International Black Sea Club. So, it is said about cities that are situated on territories unrecognized by international law (Sukhumi, Tiraspol, Yalta, Sevastopol, Feodosiya).
Creation of legal framework on economic, trade, social and cultural cooperation is planned to be discussed over the course of session. With regard to recent actions of Russia in Black Sea region, it is possible that Moscow can use this forum to legitimate its military presence extension in Black Sea and to receive support of BSEC member-states on Crimean issue.
How realistic are these plans?
Everything depends on common sense. The irony is that despite illegal actions of Russia over peninsula and its annexation, Moscow proposes “not to politicize” BSEC and to avoid the territorial and security disputes regarding the peninsula. Basically, Russia proposes other countries to ignore the fact of armed occupation of territories of other sovereign states. That’s for the first time after the WWII, by the way. At the same time Russia declares its intention to facilitate development of EU-BSEC relations on equal and mutually profitable issues in transport, environmental, innovations, IT and counter-terrorist areas. These issues are really crucial and make sense, but not under such circumstances.
It is impossible and inappropriate to consider security and development of region without resolving of Crimean issue. All BSEC member-states are interested in stability in Black Sea region, which is impossible without territorial integrity of Ukraine.
It’s difficult to understand how presiding country can speak of regional projects development when its aggressive actions against the neighbouring state led to destabilization of the whole region. According to the article 3 of BSEC Charter member-states are obliged “to act in a spirit of friendship and good neighborliness and to enhance mutual respect and confidence, dialogue and cooperation among the Member States”.
It’s worth mentioning that BSEC member-states participation in this session de facto approves Russian actions. Moreover, it will put into question Michael Christides’s statement about BSEC in respect to territorial integrity of Ukraine and Crimea. Moscow has already “helped” to create an unfriendly image of Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey. Analytics suggest that new conflicts may rise upon the old ones. As an example, we have an aggressive reaction of Moscow to Romania readiness to handle Aegis Missile Defense System, deployed in Deveselu Base, under NATO control. We should also expect some actions in destabilizing Moldova before upcoming presidential and possibly early parliamentary elections. Thus, Moscow will try to create a Russia-friendly formation in Romanian “backyard”.
It’s obvious that Kremlin’s aggressive Black Sea region policy regarding other sovereign states cannot achieve positive results in economic cooperation. It’s quite on the contrary. This incident can lead BSEC to the dead end and provoke other difficulties in cooperation. Russian actions as BSEC member-state compromise the whole meaning of the organization, whose main task is to develop confidence and mutual understanding.
Acting against international agreements, Russian Federation has no right to declare, according to Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, that it serves the interests of all BSEC member-states and strives to improve both organization and its Charter.
Participation in 47th Plenary Session of PABSEC General Assembly in Moscow is a clear way to support the aggressor. Member-states should consider their intention to visit Moscow or at least send minor representatives to show their disagreement to Kremlin illegal policy.