Upcoming Events 2020
US-UA Security Dialogue XI
Washington, DC
March 5, 2020 
New York City
April 30, 2020
US-UA WG Yearly Summit VIII
New York City [Webcasting]
June 17-18, 2020

US-UA Energy Dialogue SE
Washington DC [Webcasting]
June 29, 2020 
UA HES Special Event:
Ukrainians in 1945/75th 
Year Retrospective 
Ukrainian Institute of America
September 26, 2020 
Washington, DC
October 22, 2020
PL-LT-UA Relations
Chicago, IL 
November 14, 2020 


CUSUR 2016 - Project I
US-UA “Working Group” Initiative

The US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative was launched in 2007 in order to secure an array of experts in "areas of interest” for CUSUR and its various forums/proceedings; at the same time, it was hoped that the ‘experts’ might agree to write a series of ‘occasional papers’ to identify “major issues” impacting on US-Ukrainian relations.
CUSUR 2017 - Project II
Publication Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to set up proper channels for the maximum circulation of the information/analysis CUSUR possessed or had at its disposal, the Center long focused on having ‘a publication presence’ of some form or another.
CUSUR 2019 - Project III
DC Occasional Briefings Series

CUSUR did not turn its attention to having a DC presence until summer 2012. Borrowing space when the need arose (particularly for various forum steering committees meetings) from the American Foreign Policy Council, its longest abiding partner, seemed to suffice; an Acela ride from the Center’s NY office did the rest. If there was a concern, it was to open an office in Kyiv.
Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic Future – Black Sea Perspective

Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic Future: International Forum I

Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic Future – Black Sea Perspective

Erdogan Iscan

Featured remarks by Erdogan Iscan, Turkish Ambassador, delivered at Ukraine’s Euro¬Atlantic Future Forum I on June 12, 2007 at the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine in Kyiv Ukraine.

I am grateful for the opportunity to address this important Forum. My presentation will be related to the Black Sea perspective of the Euro-Atlantic integration. I will attempt to highlight certain peculiar features of the Black Sea region. I hope it will contribute to a better perception of the Black Sea vis-à-vis the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area.

The Black Sea is a strategic sea with a unique position. It is connected to the open seas through two narrow outlets, the Turkish Straits, and an inner sea, the Marmara Sea. The Black Sea region has been attracting growing attention within the larger Euro-Atlantic area.

Turkey exercises jurisdiction over the Turkish Straits under the Montreux Convention of 1936. For over 70 years, the sui generis regime stipulated by this Convention has been functioning effectively. It provides for freedom of merchant shipping through the Turkish Straits. It also regulates passage, presence and duration of stay of warships in the Black Sea.

Allow me first to recall that the Black Sea has never been a sea of major contention or conflict even during the entire period of the precarious Cold War years. It is worth remembering that the littoral states were then the Soviet Union, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. That is one NATO member versus three Warsaw Pact members, one of which was the other super power. I think it was mainly due to the restraint exercised by all concerned. Also, the exclusive regime provided by the Montreux Convention kept the Black Sea out of major international focus. The continuity in Turkish policy vis-à-vis access to the Black Sea of warships of non-littoral states has served to maintain a long-standing regional balance.

In today’s circumstances, we should draw a clear distinction between the Black Sea maritime domain and the wider Black Sea region. The maritime area is surrounded by six littoral states. Three of them are NATO members and the remaining three are NATO partners. The wider region forms an integral part of the area comprising the Balkans, the Caucasus, as well as the Mediterranean reaching into the Middle East.

The challenges faced in these two distinct areas are entirely different in nature and scale. The maritime area is relatively immune from asymmetric risks. The littoral states have efficient means to deter those that may arise in the future. On the other hand, the wider region involves a number of frozen conflicts such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria, as well as issues related to energy security and democratisation.

The two distinct areas do not involve the same actors either. The maritime area is, first and foremost, dealt with by the six littoral states. The wider Black Sea region covers countries of the area surrounding the Black Sea, without necessarily having a coastline. It may also involve intervention of non-regional powers.

It is essential to give due consideration to this distinction between the maritime domain and the wider region of the Black Sea in order to correctly analyse the challenges and develop appropriate ways and means to cope with these challenges in a cooperative manner.

The three sets of aims are indivisible pillars of strategic interests of the Black Sea region as an integral part of the larger Euro-Atlantic area. These are:

  • Democracy and market economy reforms: Expanding political freedom, the rule of law and respect for human rights; improving the functioning of market economies.
  • Energy and trade: Establishing networks of multiple oil and gas pipelines; increasing trade and development through transportation and communication infrastructures; facilitating visa regimes in order to bolster trade, investments and tourism.
  • Security: Combating terrorism, organised crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; enlarging cooperation on border security and civil-military emergency response; resolution of conflicts.

What are the mechanisms so far established with a view to coping with those challenges?

The initiative to set up the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) was launched fifteen years ago. It was formed on the idea that increased economic cooperation among the Black Sea states would serve to achieve sustainable economic growth and enhance stability in the region. Since then, BSEC has developed into a mature regional organisation with a broad institutional basis. It was transformed into a regional organisation in 1999.

Encompassing an area of 20 million square kilometers with 330 million people, BSEC has a huge economic potential. At present, three EU and four NATO members are at the same time members of BSEC. Also seven EU as well as seven NATO members have observer status with BSEC. Thus, it is inevitable that BSEC will continue to be a significant actor in achieving further integration of the Black Sea region into the larger Euro-Atlantic area.

EU Commission, in its communication to the Council on 4 December 2006, expressed “anticipation for establishing a regular dialogue with BSEC at foreign ministers level.” The Commission also stressed in its paper titled “Black Sea Synergy – A New Regional Cooperation Initiative”, dated 11 April 2007, that “the wide membership of BSEC and the fact that Russia and Turkey are its founding members is a decisive advantage and could substantially contribute to the success of Black Sea Synergy.”

BSEC withstood the test of time and proved its worth as an effective organisation in the sphere of promoting cooperation in the wider Black Sea region. During the presidency of Turkey, the 15th Anniversary Summit to be held in Istanbul on 25 June 2007. It will provide an invaluable opportunity to reassess and define the new vision of BSEC in view of developing international circumstances. Ukraine will take over presidency of BSEC from Turkey in November this year.

As regards security of the Black Sea maritime domain, the initiative aimed at building up the military aspect of cooperation was first discussed in 1998. Following negotiations with the littoral states, the BLACKSEAFOR founding document was signed in Istanbul on 2 April 2001, approximately five months before 9/11. Today, all littoral states of the Black Sea are participants in BLACKSEAFOR, an on-call Naval Task Force.

In the beginning, the scope of its activities was limited to humanitarian aid, search and rescue and environmental protection. It served the purpose of enhancing good neighbourly relations among littoral states, some of which had been former adversaries.

Following 9/11, which marked the beginning of a new era in global, regional and national security, NATO’s first ever “Article 5” initiative, Operation Active Endeavour (OAE), was launched in the Mediterranean Sea. These circumstances also required the transformation of BLACKSEAFOR in order to align it with the new security environment. The transformation process is still under way.

Meanwhile, in order to avoid a security gap in the Black Sea maritime area, the Turkish Navy initiated the Operation Black Sea Harmony (OBSH) on 1 March 2004. All littoral states have been invited to join OBSH. The Russian Federation joined in December 2006. The Protocol regarding the participation of Ukraine entered into force on 25 April 2007. Consultations are ongoing with Romania. It is also hoped that talks will be started with Bulgaria and Georgia.

OBSH is a NATO and OAE affiliated initiative. It aims at deterring, disrupting and preventing the threat of terrorism and illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. It consists of conducting periodic surveillance missions, hailing and, if necessary, boarding of suspect vessels. It provides regular information to NATO and closely cooperates with OAE in the Mediterranean. It is regarded as a successful regional endeavour in deterring possible asymmetric risks in the Black Sea maritime area. It complements efforts in this regard in the larger Euro-Atlantic area in the aftermath of 9/11.

It is argued that, once OBSH becomes a multinational operation, while maintaining its NATO-OAE affiliated status, it may transfer its missions to BLACKSEAFOR. They are functioning instruments in the Black Sea maritime security domain. OBSH and BLACSEAFOR should become devices linking the interests of NATO with those of the littoral states with a view to anchoring them into the Euro-Atlantic security system.

There are other organisations as well as efforts in the regional scale where the countries of the region cooperate to varying degrees. These include GUAM-ODED (Organisation for Democracy and Development), CDC (Community of Democratic Choice), SEDM (Southeastern Europe Defence Ministerial), SECI (Southeast European Cooperation Initiative) and the Energy Community for Southeast Europe. There is also the Romanian initiative, the Black Sea Forum. According to the EU Commission’s communication to the Council on “Black Sea Synergy”, “given its focus on regional partnership and networks, [it] could be particularly useful at the non-governmental, civil society level.”

All such formations may play a complementary role in strengthening the region’s status as an integral part of the larger Euro-Atlantic area, provided that their mandates avoid recurrence of functions and their activities are well-coordinated. It is also important that they do not pursue antagonistic policies. Priority should be given to the most effective use of the institutions that already exist.

As for Ukraine, from the perspective of the Black Sea, it is already part of all those regional organisations, first and foremost, BSEC, BLACKSEAFOR and OBSH. As a significant actor in the Black Sea region with a huge potential, Ukraine’s active participation in these structures will contribute to the consolidation of relations between the Black Sea region and the larger Euro-Atlantic area. This, in return, will provide the ground for Ukraine to make an informed choice vis-à-vis integration into the global security architecture. The consolidation of democratic maturity in Ukraine will definitely ensure enhanced peace as well as prosperity for Ukraine, the region and the larger Euro-Atlantic area.


Past Highlight Events

RT XVII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XVII: Ukraine & Religious Freedom, held in Washington, DC on Oct. 27, 2016
UA HES SE: UA 25th B-Day
Highlights from UA HES Special Event: 'Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State', held at the NY Princeton Club on Sept. 17, 2016
US-UA WG YS IV Highlights
Highlights from US-UA WG Yearly Summit IV: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card, held at the University Club in Washington, DC on June 16, 2016
US-UA SD VII Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII held on February 25, 2016 in Washington DC
UA HES SE: WW2 Legacy
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: 'Contested Ground': The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe, held in Edmonton on October 23-24, 2015
Holodomor SE Highlights
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: Taking Measure of the Holodomor, held at the Princeton Club of NY on November 5-6, 2013
US-UA SD III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue III held on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL

  • Former UA Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko's keynote
UEAF Forum VI Highlights
Highlights from UEAF Forum VI, held in Ottawa, Canada on March 7-8, 2012
RT XII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: PL-UA & TR-UA, held in Washington, DC on Oct 19–20, 2011
US-UA ED III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Energy Dialogue III, held in Washington DC
on April 15-16, 2008
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