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Greece is linked to the wider Black Sea region by unbreakable age-old historical ties. It is no coincidence that the Black Sea and neighbouring regions are home to ancient cities – including Yalta, Trabzon, Istanbul, Mariupol, Constanta and Sevastopol – linked to the history of Hellenism over the centuries.
Greek communities in countries bordering on the Black Sea remain strong to this day, constituting a “living bridge” with Greece. Within the framework of maintaining Greece’s ethnic and cultural presence in the region, Greece has a strong cultural presence, funding and supporting a number of cultural centers, as well as modern Greek language centers and university chairs, while in areas where there is a particularly strong Greek presence, Greek schools are operated within the framework of the local associations of ethnic Greeks. The Greek presence in these areas is confirmed – and their future underscored – via visits of ethnic Greeks to Greece and visits of Greek-language professors to these countries.
Greece also has a significant economic presence and interests in the Black Sea region. Exports to countries of the region account for 20% of total Greek exports.
Greece’s foreign policy regarding the states and peoples of the Black Sea region is focused on developing ties and cooperation on all levels. Greece pursues and supports the achievement of stability in the region, and its general contribution in this direction became even more marked during Greece’s 2009 Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and participation in the OSCE Troika in 2010.
Within the European Union, Greece promotes and supports polices that contribute not only to the economic development of these regions, but also to bringing these countries closer to Europe. Greece was one of the countries involved in creating the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and supports both the Black Sea Synergy and the recently created Eastern Partnership (EaP).
The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) – of which Greece was a founding member – also plays a very important role in interregional cooperation throughout the wider region
Greece is a principal financer of BSEC organs, hosting the headquarters of two of BSEC’s Related Bodies: the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (Thessaloniki) and the International Center for Black Sea Studies (Athens).
Within the BSEC framework, Greece is developing important initiatives and supports the development of important regional projects – including the Black Sea Ring Highway and the extension of Motorways of the Sea – aimed at sustainable development in the region.
The Hellenic Chairmanship of BSEC (1 July 2014-31 December 2014)
Our country is assuming the BSEC Chairmanship after a widely acclaimed Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which focused, thematically, on seeking ways to bring Europe out of the economic crisis, through growth and the creation of new jobs.
Inspired by these concerns, our BSEC Chairmanship’s motto, “Building Support for Economic Cooperation,” which shares the BSEC acronym, reflects Greece’s strong will to build the BSEC support mechanism, with the goal of effective economic cooperation between BSEC member states.
The Chairmanship’s logo, the ancient trireme, symbolizes the means of communication between the peoples of the Black Sea through the ages, with the aim of the development of trade and the spread of civilization.
The Hellenic Chairmanship’s efforts will focus on:
- Promoting BSEC as the appropriate forum for economic cooperation, through the implementation of specific programmes.
- Transferring the necessary experience and know-how, with the aim of shaping BSEC’s operational dimension – in particular the Project Management Unit being formed at the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat.
- Securing the requisite economic resources for supporting this operational dimension, together with the member states, the European Union, and other international funding organizations.
Specifically, the priorities for sectoral cooperation, within the framework of which the corresponding Ministerial Meetings will be held, focus on:
- Health emergency management, through the creation of a cooperation network among the BSEC member states.
- Revitalization of cooperation on the development of green transport – both road and sea – in particular through the completion of the Programmes for the Black Sea Ring Highway and the Motorways of the Sea.
- Development and promotion of specialized forms of tourism, including film induced tourism and gastronomic tourism, with the aim of expanding tourism cooperation and creating new jobs in the wider Black Sea region.