124290 10/2/2007 6:19 07ISTANBUL892 Consulate Istanbul UNCLASSIFIED 07SECSTATE132718 VZCZCXYZ0000 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHIT #0892 2750619 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 020619Z OCT 07 FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7564 INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7153 RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 0851 RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 0025 RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 0050 RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0179 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0155 RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU PRIORITY 0053 RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0013 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0390 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 0311 RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0148 RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY 0080 RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN PRIORITY 0093 RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000892
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ECIN, PREL, TU SUBJECT: BSEC SENIOR OFFICIALS POSTPONE ACTION ON U.S. OBSERVER STATUS
REF: A. SECSTATE 132718
B. ISTANBUL 666
1. Summary. The September 27 meeting of the BSEC Committee of Senior Officials agreed to postpone discussion of large portions of the agenda to the October 23-24 Ankara meeting, including the U.S. application for renewal of observer status (reftels). In addition to a prolonged discussion of the agenda and routine reviews of BSEC meetings and activities, the Greek delegation made a detailed presentation on successful efforts to have donations to BSEC recognized as official development assistance by the OECD. A representative from the European Commission also discussed planning for a "high-level kick off event" designed to highlight a new era of cooperation between BSEC and the Commission. End Summary.
2. The BSEC Committee of Senior Official met in Istanbul on September 27. As per normal BSEC procedures, discussions of personnel, finances and applications for observer status were held in camera. Open sessions included a two-hour debate over the content of the agenda, a review of project development fund activities, summaries of ministerial and working group meetings and presentations by the BSEC related bodies. The Russian delegation argued forcefully for the postponement of several agenda items (including the U.S, Czech, Croatian and Slovakian requests to renew observer status), claiming publicly that postponement of these discussions was necessary to keep the one-day September meeting from running grossly over time. Privately, Russian delegation head Serghei Goncharenko, MFA Deputy Director for Economic Cooperation, confirmed that the schedule changes were made solely in the interest of rationalizing the agenda and that Russia had no/no objections to the U.S. application for renewed observer status.
3. In addition to cutting the six-page agenda roughly in half the Russian request for administrative streamlining included grouping open and in camera sessions so that observers and related bodies (e.g. the parliamentary assembly, the trade and development bank, and the business association) could better participate in the meetings as well as delivering reports on sub-working group level activities in writing rather than verbally in the interest of saving time. Although the Russian request did not appear to have been coordinated in advance with the BSEC secretariat, their recommendations appear to have merit and most Russian-proposed agenda modifications were accepted by the group.
4. One discussion that was not deferred to Ankara included a description by the Greek delegation of successful efforts by the Greek government to have donations to BSEC recognized by the OECD as official development assistance (ODA.) The Greek delegation indicated that this decision by the OECD would enable the government of Greece to increase significantly contribution levels. The Greek delegation also encouraged BSEC observers and other potential donors to direct ODA to BSEC under the good governance, capacity building and reform headings of the Millennium Development Goals.
5. The European Commission was represented at the Committee of Senior Officials as an observer for the first time on September 27. Fernando Garces de los Fayos, Principal Administrator in the External Relations Directorate General of the Commission, explained that becoming a BSEC observer was an important step in the Commission's aim to be fully involved in Black Sea cooperation. He noted that the EC and BSEC were still working out details related to a planned "high-level kick off event" designed to highlight a new era of cooperation between the Commission and BSEC. This event will take place after Ukraine becomes BSEC Chairman in Office on November 1, but a firm date has not yet been set and many substantive details still remain to be worked out. WIENER