The Shifting Geopolitics of the Black Sea Region: Actors, Drivers, Challenges

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details 15.03.11
Publication Date 08/03/2011
ISBN 978-82-7002-303-5
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The Black Sea has long been a focal point for regionalization. Both the EU and NATO have had a proactive policy in the region, and various cooperative arrangements have been made to enhance multilateral maritime governance in the Black Sea. Numerous regional mechanisms for interaction and cooperation among the littoral states have been set up, such as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Black Sea Forum for Dialogue and Partnership (BSF) and the Black Sea Initiative of the EU (BSI).

In January 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Black Sea, reflecting the fact that since 2005 the region itself has entered a new modus operandi. The European Parliament recognized that the Black Sea ‘is of geo-strategic importance for the energy security of the EU’, and stated: ‘given the strategic importance of the Black Sea region for the EU and the rather limited results of the BSI, a strategy should be launched to enhance the coherence and visibility of EU action in the region. Such an EU Black Sea Strategy should be an integral part of the EU’s broader foreign and security policy vision’ (European Parliament 2011).

That report, however, is based on the assumption that the current level of political cooperation does not reflect the high number of multilateral cooperative forums in the region (Hedenskog 2010). Moreover, the effect of such regional initiatives has been called into question, not least due to the rising significance of pipeline politics.

Euro-Atlantic integration has been put on hold. The prospects for transformative Europeanization commonly associated with enlargement processes have been replaced by selective EU engagement under the heading of ‘compensatory regionalism’ – engagement focused on compensating EU neighbours for the disadvantages of being outside the EU, rather than informed by the prospect of letting them in (Emerson 2008). NATO-member Turkey seems further away from EU membership; and, although Ukraine still seeks EU association and membership, it shelved its NATO aspirations in 2010.

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