Prospects for Georgia and Abkhazia in the context of Black Sea Integration

On June 24-27, 2006 South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation together with University of California, Irvine, organized a conference “Prospects for Georgia and Abkhazia in the context of Black Sea Integration”.

As a consequence of the enlargement of NАТО and the European Union, and – to a lesser extent – in connection with the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Black Sea is increasingly becoming part of a united space of political and strategic importance. Romania and Bulgaria have already become members of NATO and will soon be joining the EU; Turkey is a NATO member and candidate for EU membership. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are being included into the ENP and are striving for NATO membership. Only Russia and the non-recognized republic of Abkhazia remain outside this framework. However, Russia is actively participating in the work of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

At the conference in Istanbul politicians, experts and civil society activists from Georgia and Abkhazia discussed among themselves and together with international guests: on which conditions Abkhazia would like to or could become part of the integration processes around the Black Sea, and which prospects would emerge for Abkhazia; and what impact these processes would have on resolving the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.

The conference was structured in two parts: The first two days were dedicated to bilateral discussions of current issues in Georgia and Abkhazia, and developments in European integration from the Abkhaz and Georgian perspectives. The second part included the perspectives of experts from Russia, Turkey, and representatives of the EU and NATO.