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New US Black Sea Policy Urged
The report by Heritage Foundation energy and Eurasia expert Ariel Cohen and Conway Irwin, a writer on energy affairs, noted that the Black Sea region remained a complex
The report by Heritage Foundation energy and Eurasia expert Ariel Cohen and Conway Irwin, a writer on energy affairs, noted that the Black Sea region remained a complex "patchwork of overlapping civilizations and spheres of influence."
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington DC (UPI) Dec 18, 2006
The United States needs a new comprehensive strategy to deal with the Black Sea region, a new report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, says. The new report, by Heritage energy and Eurasia expert Ariel Cohen and Conway Irwin, a writer on energy affairs, urged the Bush administration to "pursue a circumspect, balanced, and realistic strategy to enhance the security and stability of the Black Sea basin."

The report recommended increased cooperation and coordination on the Black Sea region between the United States and the 25-nation European Union.

The United States and the European Union "share common goals of safe-guarding peace in the region and encouraging democratic and economic reform while preventing a single power from dominating the region," the report said.

Washington "should push for expanded NATO cooperation with non-NATO countries through the Partnership for Peace, including technical and training assistance in security areas," it said.

The report also recommended that the U.S. government "should also continue to strengthen bilateral military ties with Ukraine."

The report also recommended that the untied States use its diplomatic leverage to improve relations between Turkey, a long-time NATO ally and Islamic nation, and with Bulgaria and Romania, two former Soviet satellite Christian nations in the Balkans. Washington should "encourage Turkey to participate in trilateral military exchanges and consultations with Romania and Bulgaria to assuage Turkey's concerns that U.S. bases in Romania and Bulgaria threaten its dominant position in the Black Sea," the report said.

The report also recommended that the United States try and draw Bulgaria and Romania more into leadership roles in "multilateral regional organizations and initiatives, such as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), that aim to improve regional security and stability."

"Where appropriate, the U.S. should request member or observer status in these organizations," it said.

Cohen and Irwin said the United States should play a more active role in Black Sea region international security organizations "such as the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (BLACKSEAFOR) and Black Sea Harmony, as a participant or an observer."

"These structures could also be included in NATO military and disaster preparedness exercises to improve interoperability," they said.

The Heritage report said the United States should also "strengthen alliances with Bulgaria and Romania by assisting with military, emergency preparedness, and technological training of Romanian and Bulgarian forces in missions that are relevant to the U.S. presence there."

The report recommended a tough approach towards Russia concerning Moscow's chilly relations with the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the Caucasus. It said Washing should "urge Russia to end its sanctions against Georgia and push for renewed multilateral talks to resolve Georgia's 'frozen conflicts' through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the U.N. Secretary Gen¬eral's Friends of Georgia group."

"The visibility of the conflicts could be enhanced by hosting high-level conferences and negotiations on their resolution in Washington," Cohen and Irwin wrote.

The United States "should also seek to replace Russian/Common¬wealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeep¬ers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia with an international peacekeeping force, preferably under the OSCE's or EU's aegis," they added.

The report noted that the Black Sea region remained a complex "patchwork of overlapping civilizations and spheres of influence."

While "Romania and Bulgaria are members of NATO and future members of the European Union ... "Ukraine is caught between the West and Russia," it said.

"Turkey and Russia vacillate between East and West, pulled in different directions by history, religion, national interests, and national pride," the report said.

"Given these circumstances, the Bush administration should pursue a circumspect, balanced, and realistic strategy to enhance the security and stability of the Black Sea basin," it recommended.

Source: United Press International

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