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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Black Sea Group Seals Agreement

KIEV -- Leaders from the Black Sea Economic Cooperation forum signed on Friday a joint declaration and a charter formally proclaiming the 11-nation group as a regional economic organization.

The documents, signed at the two-day BSEC summit in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, stressed the determination of member countries to promote peace, stability and economic cooperation in the strategic region.

They also spoke of advancing cooperation with the European Union and said all BSEC nations would seek membership in the World Trade Organization as the first step in that direction, with the ultimate goal being the creation of a European-Black Sea economic zone, the declaration said.

Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko welcomed the accord, saying it will give an impetus to multilateral cooperation.

He singled out the formation of a Black Sea trade and development bank among the joint projects. "We believe that the Black Sea bank will, at the regional level, help support industrial exports, exchange modern technologies and services and carry out transport and energy projects," he said.

Kiriyenko said Russia had started developing a federal program of cooperating with the Black Sea countries "to attract a wider circle of Russian companies and government institutions in Black Sea projects."

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma also spoke of "ambitious" plans to use BSEC as a link in a transportation system connecting China and Central Asia with Europe, and proposed a plan for transporting Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan to Ukraine via the Black Sea to Europe in the near future.

The BSEC, set up in 1992, includes Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.

(Reuters, Interfax)