Moscow, 27 April 2001
Opening Statement by Ms. Danuta Hübner,
United Nations Under-Secretary-General,
Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Participants of the Fourth Session of the Meeting of the Council
of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation,
Allow me to express my deepest appreciation for the effort of the member States of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation to create a viable regional integration grouping and my hope that it will continue to benefit its member States in terms of both economic gains, and peace and security.
The Black Sea region not only offers a lot to the world economy and global community with its valuable skilful human resources, favourable geographical location, rich mineral resources, diverse cultures and the desire to cooperate, but also has an enormous potential for growth that can benefit all the peoples living throughout this large region.
As peace is the most precious and the most crucial condition for the countries of the region for advancing economic development and social progress, I would also like to congratulate the BSEC member States on their determination to develop good-neighbourly relations in the region.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, of which all countries of the BSEC are member States, I would like to confirm our support for your efforts. So far we have been providing it in mainly two economic areas: in transport and in enterprise development, and particularly in the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises. The signing of a cooperation agreement between the UNECE and BSEC is on its way, which will allow to expand the ECE involvement in your activities in a much more comprehensive manner. In particular, the agreement envisages extending cooperation to such areas as: economic analysis and statistics, protection of environment, sustainable energy, inland transport, trade and industry.
There is still a lot work ahead in the region before fruits of success can become broadly felt. First and foremost, there is a need to continue efforts aimed at removing the existing institutional obstacles impeding cooperation. These include differences in standards, regulations and procedures that result in significant costs to businessmen, moving their commodities, services and financial resources across borders. With our experience in trade and transport facilitation we can assist the member States in their efforts in the above areas.
There is also a potential to rationalize and further harmonize national institutional settings for business activities. Many countries of this region still lack a proper legislation, including bankruptcy law, property rights, anti-monopoly regulation, foreign investment regulation, arbitration and, most important, the capacity to enforce transaction obligations, undermining the trust of and incentives of both domestic and foreign investors. We can provide assistance in these areas as well. There is both a need and a good potential for working together
Once again, I would like to wish all of you a success in your endeavour to transform the Black Sea region into the paradise celebrated once by a Greek poet of the antiquity.
Thank you for your attention.