Black Sea region needs greater UN presence countries tell General Assembly

Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today that the benefits that would flow from a more stable region are enormous. “If we take a closer look we see a region with a large population, an important hub for energy and transport flows, a great economic potential,” he said. “The United Nations should be there to assist the region not only in de-frosting conflicts, but also to help coastal countries in cooperating to solve problems related to pollution, illegal migration, organized crime and drug trafficking, so as to project stability and to support development.” Mr. Comanescu said the conflict in August in Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region, “with its reverberations in Abkhazia and the entire State of Georgia and beyond, should focus the attention of the international community on all protracted conflicts in the area, including Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh.” In his address yesterday to the Assembly, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said the UN’s experience in peacemaking and conflict prevention could be much better utilized by the Black Sea region. “Democracy, security and cooperation still have their further way to go in the Black Sea region,” he said. “More coherent efforts are needed for the ultimate settlement of the protracted conflicts there. Frozen conflicts should not be neglected because they tend to re-ignite tension time and again.” Mr. Stanishev said the fighting in South Ossetia between Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces provided “ample evidence” of the need to resolve frozen conflicts sooner rather than later. “Should the plans for a regional centre for UN mediation in the Western Balkans/Black Sea area meet approval by Member States, Bulgaria stands ready to host it in Sofia, and to facilitate in every possible way its activities in South-East Europe, in the South Caucasus and other neighbouring areas,” he added. Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, also speaking yesterday in the General Debate, said it was vital to keep working towards greater stability across South-East Europe, particularly given the “unfinished business” in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “The foundations for stability in this country reside in the respect for equal rights for all three constituent and sovereign people: Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs,” Mr. Sanader said. “The Republic of Croatia, along with the international community, stands ready to support and assist Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as all the countries in the region, through an active policy of cooperation. Such cooperation paves the way for long-standing security and prosperity in South-East Europe.” 27 September 2008Senior officials from Romania and Bulgaria have called on the United Nations to play an enhanced role in promoting democracy and regional peace and stability across the Black Sea area, saying the recent conflict in Georgia signalled some of the challenges the region faces.