Security in the Black Sea Region
His Excellency Ioan Mircea Pascu
Minister of Defense of Romania
Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu
Leading a panel with Turkish, Bulgarian, and Georgian Defense Ministers, Minister Pascu calls the Black Sea region "a passageway for Caspian oil and gas" that will be central to future European development.
Unintentionally, I believe, our program is illustrating the growing gap between evolutionary technology and static politics. During earlier sessions on technology, we saw how rapidly that area is developing. Then, with the help of Nick Burns, and now, with this session, we are seeing that whatever we try to do about technology and however fascinated we might be with it we are back to square one, which is politics. Unfortunately, however, politics has not developed very much since it was first employed. These realities show us that perhaps we should apply inventiveness and ingenuity to transforming politics as well as to technology. I am not saying that we should back off on technological development but perhaps that we should start thinking about how technology and its development might help move the political arena forward.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BLACK SEA AREA
I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues Vecdi Gonul, Nikolai Svinarov, Gela Bezhuashvili, General Skvorzov, and Ambassador Khandogiy for answering the invitation to organize this panel and to present to you our national views on the Black Sea, an area that is becoming increasingly important and relevant. Geographically, it is a landlocked sea dominated by important land powers of the area. During the Crimean War, it was the main area of operation along with theaters in the Baltic and East Asia; opponents were Turkey and Russia and the involvement of France and Britain gave it a European dimension.
When we look at a map of this area, we see that one of the accesses to Russia is through the Black Sea. Turkey also has important interests because of its location there. The area actually opens toward three important strategic areas: the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Caspian Sea, which opens toward Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Gulf. We also have the Danube, which is becoming the waterway of a united Europe. The sea is also a passageway for Caspian oil and gas for consumers in the West and a source of value in addressing traditional and nontraditional threats. Consequently, its current relevance and its importance for the foreseeable future are significant.
In addition, the area is significant to three major actors in international politics: NATO, the EU, and Russia, because demarcation lines are not yet fully crystallized. To my mind we need to discuss how to approach and manage the area and its problems in order to minimize its negative potential and to maximize common access to its promising benefits. We must continue to coexist and further develop cooperative attitudes in order to guard the sea lanes, deal with nontraditional threats, and manage the environment in the interests of all the countries around the sea.
We also need to share intelligence, either through organizations or individuals, regarding terrorism, arms smuggling, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and organized crime. We must work together to do everything we can to stop some of the major problems we have been hearing about.
Currently we have effective bilateral exchanges with other countries. We have a good relationship with Turkey, and BLACKSEAFOR, which started as a cooperative effort in the area, now deals with an increasingly larger spectrum of activities in the area. It may develop into an avenue for intercepting threats and addressing smuggling and other issues, but that is a decision that must be made by all the coastal countries. However, I believe we are moving in that direction, and the situation urges us to exchange relevant information.
The Black Sea is an area in what we are calling a complex emerging security region. I predict that over the next several years, European development will be centered around it. But will we engage in crystallizing the vision or will we let things develop on their own, and limit ourselves to managing whatever configuration emerges? I do not expect to get all the answers to all the problems today, but we can make a good start.