The Center for International and European Studies (CIES) at Kadir Has University, in cooperation with the German Marshall Fund of the United States has established a Task Force comprised of key experts, to provide policy outputs and recommendations for an EU strategy for the Black Sea Region. The first meeting of the Expert Task Force was held at Kadir Has University on Friday, 19 September 2014. The second took place at the German Marshall Fund’s Berlin office on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 and the third meeting was held at the European Policy Centre's Brussels office on Thursday, 29 January 2015. The fourth meeting of the Expert Task Force took place in Bucharest on Thursday, 26 May 2016.
The Black Sea Region finds itself in the constant spotlight be it due to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and ongoing fighting in the Donbass region, the recent deadly flare up in Nagorno Karabakh, the curtailing of democracy and democratization in many countries of the region. These developments have direct implications on one of the region’s key stakeholders – the European Union. In fact, Russia and Turkey are the EU’s two biggest neighbors sharing with it the common neighborhood of the Black Sea Region. Coincidently, the EU’s third largest neighbor is Ukraine. These parallel developments reverberate in the wider region, the European Union, and across the globe. They bring to the fore a number of complementary or crisscrossing issues such as the impact of EU policies in the region; the need for an EU strategy; the validity of the debate about how to enhance regional cooperation and how to bring willing and able neighboring states closer to the Union; how to develop a viable Russia policy that makes it a constructive stakeholder in the region and how to accommodate Turkey’s concerns, and, by extension, how to deal with the EU’s problematic relationship with its two biggest neighbors. The issues are many and varied and merit careful consideration in particular at a time when by the end of 2014, the EU’s major institutions will all be under new leadership.
The change in leadership of the EU institutions is an opportune time to provide the incoming political personnel that will be involved in policy towards the Black Sea region with food for thought as to what the key issues, concerns, and possible policy options are for the Union. Hence the proposal for this expert task force to recommend policy proposals to the EU and its member states with regard the shape, content, direction, and strategy of the Union’s policy toward the Black Sea Region.
The Task Force aims to take off from the work of the Commission on the Black Sea and its Report of May 2010 to further explore the needs of and challenges from the region and put forth targeted expert proposals that would contribute to the public and expert debate on the shape of future policy. This will be done with the formation of a core group of respected analysts that will write a report jointly based on the outputs of three task force meetings to be held in Istanbul, Berlin and Brussels.