Black Sea - Caucasus Region: Economy, Energy, Security
Süleyman ŞENSOY
Süleyman ŞENSOY
TASAM Başkanı / Chairman
Release Date : 11/6/2017
Black Sea - Caucasus Region: Economy, Energy, Security
Black Sea-Caucasus region, as one of the most important geostrategic and economic areas, has been continued to be an essential part of the world throughout history. Trade, transport and communication have always been some sort of grueling and hazardous activities around the region. Natural obstacles, border changes and disintegrations through wars have constantly posed challenges for stability. Considering the new chapter in the story of globalization, however, the prerequisites for economic development and welfare are the free circulation of commodities, services and capital within a nonviolent-safe environment and without constraints. But there is no doubt that the specific characteristics of Black Sea-Caucasus region make impossible any political and economic integration structurally similar to European Union.

However, this will not necessarily prevent to be developed bilateral relationships based on co-operations among the players in the region. International Black Sea-Caucasus Congress aims to remark concretely what the new opportunities are on the fields of economy, energy and security, and bring new perspectives for the future, considering potentials in Black Sea and Caucasus as part of global power struggle and the region’s geopolitics.
 
The ongoing incidents around the Black Sea and the Caucasus region show that the post-cold war geopolitics is different from the past and it should be understood as a proof of a new order in terms of Turkey. The world's geopolitical codes and paradigms have broken down. The new period has the characteristics of the formation process of the new geopolitical paradigms. Roles, co-operations, contrasts and interests are being revised. The background of the cold war alliance is far from describing the cooperation objectives of the Union today. New geopolitical struggle areas have been emerging and the tone, color and opposite sides of the fight are being reshaped. Consequently, the efforts to establish sovereignty in the same region for the same reasons make the conflicts inevitable.

In terms of Turkey, which is looking after its historical heritage and responsibilities in the Black Sea-Caucasus, the necessity of redefining its interests and objectives in the region take more primacy than ever.

Turkey has not only the largest, following the Russian Federation, economic and military power of the region but also an economic, military and cultural system, which is most in line with the western countries. It’s an obvious reality that Turkey should develop and carry out new policies concerning the Black Sea-Caucasus region, in which some significant developments expected to happen. Because Turkey, which is the only actor in the region has the most reliable relationships with the US, EU and the Russian Federation in particular, can hold a mediatory position, and will be able to prevent possible partitions in the Black Sea-Caucasus region.

Due to its geopolitical importance, natural resources, ethnic structure and cultural richness,  Black Sea-Caucasus region has always attracted the attention of the major powers. It still continues to draw the interest of global and regional powers such as the US, EU, Russia, Turkey and Iran. Black Sea-Caucasus region has recently become a crucial energy, transport and security corridor between East and West. Both the common usage of petrol and natural gas in Eurasia and the transfer of them to the Western markets have been increasing the importance of the region. In this framework, it will suit to be concentrated on political developments of the region’s governments and frozen conflicts in the region, and their effects over the regional stability, new economic opportunities and energy security issues. These themes will also respond to the requirement for dialogue concerning concrete opportunities, fruitful co-operations and solutions.

As the Black Sea and the Caucasus regions are geographically interconnected, the Congress was planned to be included both of them in terms of their geopolitics. In this frame besides the Black Sea countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia; Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova have been taken into the scope of Congress. What’s more, it’s observed that the focus of international security has shifted to the Black Sea-Caucasus as EU and NATO are expanding, and EU’s energy dependences to the Russia Federation and the interests towards Caspian Sea region are increasing.

The crisis of August 2008 put down the fact that the structure of the Black Sea-Caucasus region is very fragile, in terms of security. It’s not possible to figure out this crisis without understanding its origin, reasons and characteristics of its inner conflicts as well as following experiences. The crisis has impacts on so many countries particularly in terms of regional political stability and democratization efforts. Turkey is one of these countries which have seriously been affected from this crisis. In 2014, countries came up against another crisis right after the UN members, without recognizing the referendum for Crimea as an autonomous republic, defended, except Russia, territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The Black Sea-Caucasus region will be one of the most critical regions as of being in the focus point of the problems in the center of international agenda such as frozen conflicts, Russian-Western relations, the energy flow of the East-West, the proximity to the Middle East and Caspian Sea region in the next period of time. Therefore, in order to develop new policies coherent with the new conjuncture, it’s crucial for Turkey to reconsider its policies towards the problems that will take place Black Sea and neighborhood areas.
 
The Black Sea - Caucasus region has a crucial geopolitical importance in terms of the energy flow of the East-West. The European Union’s energy demand has mostly been supplied by Russian Federation. But the increasing energy dependence for Russian Federation by EU has begun to create a threat to the European’s energy security especially by the power cuts in the result of disagreements experienced between Russia and Ukraine in Black Sea. This situation has taken attention of European Union countries to the Caspian Sea resources. And even if it strengthens the role of being an energy route of Black Sea and Caucasia; it has also heated the efficiency challenge on energy resources and transition routes in the Region. This efficiency challenge showed itself as one of the important reasons of Georgia - Russia conflict. The energy transition lines, which have already established and been being planned to be establish in the Black Sea-Caucasia region, is one of the most important factors that negatively influence the security in the region.

The political polarization that has showed up among the Black Sea - Caucasus countries has been escalating the distrust among the neighbor countries. It will be helpful to keep diplomatic channels open, called public diplomacy that mostly shaped by academicians, non-governmental organizations and think-tanks, for the communication and diplomatic relations that are closed to interstate relations. Thus, major powers have been able to increase their efficiency and consequently their effects on the region. So there has been a requirement for organizing an international congress, in the point of revealing the forecasted idea sharing and solution suggestions, especially with the participation of academicians, representatives of economy-oriented sectors, think-tanks, non-governmental organizations and different international organizations.

The International Black Sea-Caucasus Congress will meet this requirement by offering the suggestions for the future of the region’s security by gathering a diverse range of experts together, and organizing a discussion platform aimed to mold a public opinion on the issue within the context of possible developments, concerning the expansions on economy and energy, emerged right after the crisis of August 2008 and February 2014 in particular.

( Süleyman ŞENSOY, Chairman of TASAM | Preface to the book of “Black Sea - Caucasus Region: Risks and Opportunities Economy, Energy and Security” | October 2017, İstanbul )
 
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