22 April 2003

Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization Is Valuable Partner of United Nations System, Secretary-General Says

Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the eighth meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva, in Yerevan, on 18 April:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to the foreign ministers and others who have gathered for this important multilateral meeting.

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization is a valuable partner of the United Nations system across a broad spectrum of issues. It is active in the fight against organized crime, corruption and terrorism. It has promoted cooperation to protect the region's resources and fragile ecosystems. And it has pursued wide-ranging economic, social and democratic reforms as the basis for stability and progress.

Last year at your Istanbul Summit, BSEC member States adopted a far-reaching agenda, encompassing such vital areas as energy, tourism, transport, public health, agriculture and the financial and banking systems. I know you are also continuing your efforts to fully integrate your countries into the European and global trade systems, to establish environments that are conducive to investment by both local and foreign investors, and to put in place the incentives that would create jobs, stimulate growth and liberate the entrepreneurial energies of your people.

In an age of interdependence and cross-border cause-and-effect, the quality of cooperation will be a key factor in achieving your goals. I welcome your efforts to establish closer relations with the European Union, especially given the forthcoming enlargement of the Union. The decision of the United Nations General Assembly to grant observer status to the BSEC, and the cooperation agreement you have signed with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, likewise offer platforms for constructive collective action.

The countries of the BSEC have considerable economic and industrial potential. As we work together toward the Millennium Development Goals, and to build societies in which all people can enjoy opportunities and improved standards of living, the United Nations system will continue to be your close partner. I would like to congratulate Armenia on its successful chairmanship, and to wish Azerbaijan every success when it takes up its responsibilities as the next chairman of the BSEC. And I look forward to building closer and even more constructive ties between your organization and the United Nations.

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