UN Development Program signs agreement
with Black Sea EconomicCooperation
Dec 02, 2006
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Turkey and Greece contribute
the bulk of funds in the 1.2 million euro program aimed at matchmaking
between small and medium-sized enterprises in a huge region. The
project will focus on young and women entrepreneurs and also will
be open to expanding the programs to other countries in Central
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed a historic
agreement on Friday with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
in Istanbul to implement a project aimed at fostering trade in
the region, especially among the 12 member states of the BSEC.
Marta Ruedas, deputy assistant
administrator and deputy regional director for Europe and the
Commonwealth of Independent States, signed for the UNDP, and BSEC
Secretary General Ambassador Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos signed
on behalf of his organization.
The signing took place at
the organization's headquarters on the Bosporus.
“This is an historic moment
for BSEC, the first time the organization has signed an international
agreement to participate in such a project,” said Chrysanthopoulos.
“This time it's with the UNDP. Both Greece and Turkey are very
happy with the program and we hope it gets good, practical results
in bringing more investment to the region and increasing intra-BSEC
Turkey and Greece each are
contributing 500,000 euros to the project, while the BSEC is contributing
in kind by providing office space and facilities for the two people
who will work on the project from Istanbul. The UNDP is contributing
200,000 euros to the three-year program.
“It's an historic event for
the UNDP as well,” said Ruedas. “It is the first time in the history
of the U.N. that Greece and Turkey are co-financing a project,
and both countries feel comfortable with the UNDP. It's the first
launch of a project under our new emphasis on sub-regional development,
and we're very happy to do so with the BSEC, whose mandate so
closely coincides with ours.”
Since 1992, the BSEC has united
the littoral states of the Black Sea and other interested countries
in common efforts to improve trade, communication and transport
links among member states. Members include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and
Ukraine. The number of member states was increased to 12 upon
the accession of Serbia and Montenegro in April 2004, though the
latter is Serbia's sole responsibility now following Montenegro's
independence in June of this year.
The framework of the program
is multilateral, promoting investment in the region but with a
special emphasis on using untapped resources in the private sector.
“We recently had a conference
in Central Asia to extend such a program to Afghanistan, and there
the dynamism is entirely in the private sector,” said Ruedas.
“The officials are saying the same old statements of goodwill,
but in the private sector, money talks, and people are eager to
The project will be based
in Bratislava, Slovakia, and have its program management office
in Athens, in addition to the unit in Istanbul, according to
BSEC project coordinator Konstantinos Zaimis.
“The idea is to develop trade
among the BSEC member countries, commerce now represents only
16 percent of the average trade volume in the region,” said Zaimis.
“We aim to boost intra-BSEC trade, particularly in non-oil sectors,
through closer economic integration and the expansion of existing
trade. The program will identify untapped resources by doing trade
flow analysis and promoting networking.”
In the program's focus on
the private sector, it will especially identify small and medium-sized
enterprises run by young entrepreneurs and women, and it will
work to develop relations with women's business associations in
Russia's support of a stronger
international role for the BSEC should help the development program
succeed, as Russia, together with Turkey, is a key Central Asia
investor and market.
A museum exhibit in Edinburgh
last month of items from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg showed
the long history of trade relations in the region. The show, “Beyond
the Palace Walls,” included an elaborate Ottoman tent, a 17th
century miniature table from Mughal India and a spectacular gift
from the Shah of Persia, a jewel piece consisting of over two
thousand precious stones, all diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
The gifts for the Russian
court testify to the historical, political, diplomatic and economic
interactions in the region, interactions which the new UNDP alliance
with the BSEC aims to revive, enhance and increase.