Cablegate: Successful Joint Us - Bsec Environmental Symposium

DE RUEHIT #0854/01 2631448
P 201448Z SEP 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: On September 12-13 BSEC and the United
States government jointly held a symposium bringing together
government officials as well as representatives from the
private and non-governmental sectors of the BSEC member
states. The symposium was designed to explore the nexus
between environmental protection and economic growth and
development in the greater Black Sea region. U.S. officials
from the Department of State and USAID as well as officials
from UNDP, the European Commission and the Black Sea
Commission also participated in the exchange of best
practices. In her opening remarks, US delegation head EUR
DAS Colleen Graffy stressed the need for governments,
businesses and communities to come together to resolve
environmental problems. In his concluding remarks BSEC
Secretary General Amb. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos explained

that BSEC hoped to hold future symposia on environmental
protection topics to complement international, regional
national and local efforts and facilitate regional
cooperation. End summary.


2. (U) On September 12-13, the Organization for Black Sea
Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Department hosted an
environmental symposium entitled "Environmental Protection
for Economic Growth: A Best Practices Exchange." Eleven of
the twelve BSEC member states were represented at the
conference; Azerbaijan due to a lack of travel funds
(government representative) and expired travel documents (NGO
participant) was not represented. All other BSEC member
states (Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova,
Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine) were represented
at the symposium and post-conference feedback from
participants has been very positive. More details on the
conference can be found at . BSEC and the
Consulate General Istanbul public affairs section are
preparing a bi-lingual (Russian-English) brochure and DVD
that will contain video of the conference proceedings and
copies of presentations as well as additional background
material provided by th
e speakers and can be distributed by Embassy public affairs
and ES&T sections. Queries regarding the brochure/DVD should
be directed to Christina Tomlinson at Consulate General


3. (U) The conference opened with remarks by BSEC Secretary
General Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, EUR DAS Colleen Graffy and
Deputy Undersecretary for the Turkish Ministry of Environment
and Forestry Sedat Kadioglu. Turkey is the current
chairman-in-office of BSEC and also chairs the BSEC Working
Group on Environmental Protection and was represented by a
large delegation from the Ministry of Environment as well as
an NGO and a private sector participant. All three speakers
highlighted the need to work together on environmental issues
despite political differences. Graffy noted that working
together is extremely important because environmental
problems "know no borders." Chrysanthopoulos and Kadioglu
thanked the USG for the financial support required to hold
this conference while Graffy noted her hope that this would
be the first of many opportunities for the USG to work with
BSEC on issues of mutual interest.

4. (U) The second session of the conference consisted of an
overview of multilateral environmental efforts in the greater
Black Sea region. Dr. Ahmet Kideys, Director of the Black
Sea Commission, described the status of the Bucharest
Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea with a
particular focus on convention implementation. Andrew Murphy
of the European Commission Directorate General on Environment
explained the evolving Danube and Black Sea (DABLAS)
Secretariat focus now that Romanian and Bulgarian accession

to the EU has made the Black Sea an EU coastal area. Cagatay
Dikmen, the Turkish national focal point for the European
Environment Agency (EEA), described how EEA coordinates with
the Turkish Ministry of Environment and other national
environment ministries. Yegor Volovik outlined progress
during the 2000 - 2008 UNDP-GEF Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery
Project. The final speaker in this session was Anar Rahimov
of the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly (PABSEC) who related
PABSEC activities in the field of e
nvironmental protection.

5. (U) The third conference session dealt with present and
future ecological challenges and economic opportunities from
the private sector, government and NGO perspective. Costas
Masmanidis, Secretary General of the BSEC Business Council

ISTANBUL 00000854 002 OF 003

described an environmental management system developed and
implemented by the chemical industry. Giorgi Tskhakaia, Head
of the Department of Licensing and Permission of the Georgian
Ministry of Environmental Protection, explained recent
reforms in the Georgian licensing and permitting regime as
applied to forestry, fishing and mining. Evangelos Mylonas,
Daedalus Informatics/Greece, focused on the need to increase
the usage or renewable sources of energy and to change the
"business as usual" paradigm. Semih Yuzen, Petfor/Turkey,
described his company's experience with for-profit solid
waste management and plastic bottle recycling. Gergana
Stoeva and Hanifi Avci described Bulgarian and Turkish
government efforts to protect the environment through urban
wastewater systems in Bulga
ria and Anatolian watershed rehabilitation projects
respectively. Richard Johnson, a former USGS official
described methods of conserving biological and cultural
diversity through economic development. This Q&A session
following this panel was particularly lively and focused.

6. (U) The fourth conference session was chaired by the
Russian BSEC Senior Official, Serghei Goncharenko, MFA Deputy
Director for Economic Cooperation. Central government
officials from Bulgaria, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia,
Serbia and Turkey described the status of laws and
regulations in their countries as well as on-going challenges
and best practices. Topics covered included the challenges
of implementing EU criteria (Bulgaria); land-based and marine
sources of pollution (Greece); Danube river basin management
(Moldova); coastal zone integrated management (Romania);
territorial planning and risk prediction (Russia); economic
instruments for environmental protection (Serbia); and
special area protection (Turkey).

7. (U) The fifth conference session focused on NGO activities
in the energy and ecotourism sectors as well as municipal
wastewater management. Nikoloz Kobakhidze, head of the
Caucuses Regional Environment Center, gave a good
presentation on the role of the NGO sector in environmental
protection. Konalski Gkjoka, Institute for Habitat
Development/Albania described efforts in increase the use of
renewable sources of energy in Albania. Zhanna Galyan,
President of the Armenian Ecotourism Associate, explained how
environmental protection can lead to development of a
sustainable tourism industry. Traian Croitoru, Water
Management Company of Constanta County, Romania described how
local government officials in Constanta County were working
with the EU to improve waste water treatment. These
presentations underscored the need to bring energy and
tourism experts as well as municipal and local authorities
into environmental protection discussions at an early stage.

8. (U) The sixth session was a pair of expert-led discussions
on building public-private partnerships and on the
enforcement of rules. Roberta Hilbruner, USAID office for
development coordination and sustainable tourism, described
successful efforts to foster rural development through
sustainable tourism. Sureyya Isfendiyaroglu from the Turkish
environmental NGO TEMA, described his organization's efforts
to increase public awareness of the need for conservation as
well as efforts to support sustainable agricultural
practices. Dr. Nilufer Oral, professor of law at Istanbul
Bilge University, explained the current status of
internationally binding agreements concerning environmental
protection in the Black Sea and called on participating
governments to strengthen enforcement of existing agreements.

9. (U) In the closing session BSEC Secretary General
Chrysanthopoulos reiterated his thanks to the USG for
providing the funding necessary to host the symposium, called
on BSEC member states to approach environmental protection in
a sustainable and comprehensive matter, urged BSEC working
groups on environment, energy and tourism to work together to
link economic development and environmental protection and
agreed that BSEC should hold similar symposia on a regular
basis to facilitate regional cooperation and the sharing of
ideas on environmental protection.

Graffy - Chrysanthopoulos Meeting

10. (U) Immediately following the opening session at which
both EUR DAS Colleen Graffy and BSEC Secretary-General
Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos made opening remarks, the two met
briefly to discuss opportunities for future cooperation
between BSEC and the United States. Graffy expressed her
condolences for the recent fires in Greece. Chrysanthopoulos
noted that the fires might have been caused by arsonists, but
the problem was created by a lack of forest management
exacerbated by five months without rain. Graffy agreed,
noting that forest fires were also a serious problem in the

ISTANBUL 00000854 003.2 OF 003

United States. Graffy asked what sort of tangible result
Chrysanthopoulos expected from the symposium. He admitted
that the results of the September 10-11 Working Group on
Environmental Protection were disappointing and "not up to my
standards." A lack of financing combined with limited
institutional capacity on the part of many BSEC members meant
that the working group was long on process and short on
substance. He expressed his hope that the symposium would
focus attention on the need to think seriously on
environmental issues and bring more practical issues to the
table at future working groups. He thanked Graffy for the
USG financial and technical support, which demonstrated the
active interest of the USG in BSEC, noting that of the
observers only Israel and Germany had had similar involvement.

Media Coverage

11. (U) The symposium received good coverage in the Turkish
press. MSNBC affiliate NTV repeatedly broadcast a 90-second
spot including excerpts from an interview with DAS Graffy as
well as coverage of the opening session of the conference.
The Anadolu Ajans wire service also covered the opening
session. All three English-language newspapers covered the
event. Turkish Daily News ran stories with photos both
before and after the conference, while English language
Today's Zaman published DAS Graffy's op-ed piece. There was
no Turkish-language print coverage.


12. (U) Everyone we worked with at BSEC from Secretary
General Chrysanthopoulos on down was very positive about USG
involvement in BSEC in general and this conference in
particular. The fact that the Russian representative to BSEC
made a special trip to Istanbul and participated actively in
the conference, chairing session four, was also a very
positive sign. The Secretary General clearly stated his
desire to work together with the USG on more such symposia
both privately to DAS Graffy and publicly in the closing
session. The BSEC Permanent International Secretariat
(PERMIS) has the administrative capacity needed to co-host a
symposium of this size (approx 50 attendees) with the USG,
what it lacks are funds. This two-day conference cost
approximately $30,000 in SEED funds and $10,000 in Mission
Turkey public diplomacy funds. Mission Turkey stands ready
to work with Washington agencies and BSEC on future
conferences; however any future conferences should be fully
funded by Washington. End Comment.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN SDG: UN Appoints Twenty Eminent Thinkers To Shed New Light On The World’s Greatest Challenges

New York, 21 January 2021 – Twenty prominent personalities, globally renowned for their intellectual leadership in economic and social fields, will form the second United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs, the ... More>>

UN: As COVID Deaths Pass Two Million Worldwide, Guterres Warns Against Self-Defeating ‘Vaccinationalism'

With more than two million lives now lost worldwide to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General appealed on Friday for countries to work together and help each other to end the pandemic and save lives. In a video statement , Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

UN: Violent Attempt At US Capitol To ‘overturn’ Election, Shocking And Incendiary

A group of independent UN rights experts released ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>