30 March 2006

Conference on interregional co-operation in the Black Sea Area

Constanţa (Romania) – 30 March 2006

Final Declaration

The representatives of international organizations, of national, regional and local authorities, as well as of the civil society, meeting in Constanţa (Romania) on the 30th of March 2006, at the Conference on interregional co-operation in the Black Sea area:

1. Express their gratitude to the Romanian authorities for their hospitality and commend Romania's commitment to the cause of the Black Sea, pursued at the level of the Council of Europe as well as at the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Organization (BSEC), both of which it currently chairs;

2. Thank the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe for the special attention it devotes to the problems of seas such as the Adriatic, Baltic, Black Sea and Mediterranean;

3. Note with satisfaction the creation of the Adriatic Euro-region in Venice, on 6 February 2006;

4. Emphasize the heightened geopolitical importance of the Black Sea region due to the enlargement, both imminent and future, of the European Union to some of its riparian States;

5. Take note of the different initiatives undertaken in the Black Sea region and welcome the ongoing co-operation at various levels: intergovernmental via the BSEC, inter-parliamentary within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Organization (PABSEC), local via the association of Black Sea capital cities, inter-university co-operation within the Black Sea University Network, etc;

6. Convinced that dialogue and co-operation at all institutional levels are a key means of enhancing the prospects of the Black Sea, commend the excellent work and high quality dialogue aimed at generating fruitful synergies to the benefit of the sustainable development of the Black Sea area;

7. Welcome the interest already shown by the Council of Europe to the Black Sea issues, particularly through conferences organised by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;

8. Reiterate the acknowledged political importance of co-operation between local and regional authorities and agree that closer links at that level, while respecting the institutional and legislative framework of the States involved, can make a substantial contribution to ensuring peace, stability, and sustainable development in the Black Sea area;

9. Recognize the significant contribution of the Council of Europe and, in particular, of the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and of the European Framework Convention on the trans-border co-operation of the local authorities (Madrid, 1980) to the reinforcement of the regional co-operation in Europe and reaffirm the link existing between trans-national regional co-operation and the inter democratic stability and sustainable development of the regions concerned.

10. Stress that the natural or conventional borders should not prevent the development of exchanges, bonds and dialogue among the peoples, and civilizations in the Black Sea area, aimed at promoting the peaceful co-existence in multi-ethnic societies and the value of multi-culturalism;

11. Appreciate that the interregional co-operation contributes to the improvement of the quality of life of the inhabitants of the Black Sea area, to the social cohesion and a better understanding of the peoples in the border regions of the Black Sea basin.

12. On this basis, consider that the legitimate regional and local authorities in this area, while differing in their range of prerogatives and institutional organisation, are nevertheless united in respect for the values of Democracy, the Rule of law and Human Rights and capable of making a tangible and valuable contribution to European integration, by means of trans-border, trans-national and interregional co-operation emphasising the importance of applying the European experience of local administration as an important element contributing to building a Europe based on the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights;

13. Bearing in mind that all Black Sea riparian States are members of the Council of Europe, consider that the Council of Europe could facilitate a strengthened co-operation among local and regional authorities in the Black Sea area and thus substantially contribute to the common objective of building a Europe without dividing lines;

14. Encourage the coastal states of the Black Sea area to constantly and effectively support the trans-border, trans-national and inter-regional co-operation of their local and regional authorities, in order to create favourable conditions for the consolidation of the democratic practices, for good governance at the local level and for the sustainable development in the region;

15. Stress, however, that - given the environmental and ecological issues - action to tackle the problems of the Black Sea region cannot be limited solely to its riparian States and must be extended to a broader geographical area, including the Danube basin and the countries of the South Caucasus;

16. Consider it important that this dialogue be reflected in concrete and ongoing commitment, firmly rooted in the practices of local and regional authorities or national structures with equivalent responsibilities;

The participants ask:

17. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to pursue its commitment to the Black Sea area and contribute to the creation, by the end of 2007, of a Euro-region along the lines of the Adriatic Euro-region, providing the riparian countries of the Black Sea with an instrument establishing an effective dialogue and co-operation among the local and regional authorities, as well as concerted and integrated approaches to the region's problems;

18. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to support this initiative by facilitating inter alia co-operation between the Congress and national authorities in this undertaking;

19. That the following aims be considered when devising the Black Sea Euro-Region project:

- promoting the co-operation among the Black Sea countries at local and regional level
- consolidating the democratic stability and promoting good governance,
- contributing to the promotion of sustainable development, including improved social and economic cohesion,
- enhancing the development of mutual relations between residents and institutions in this area, as a precondition for better knowledge, understanding and co-operation;
- making better use of regional resources to strengthen local authorities’ management skills;
- fostering an effective exchange of experience in identifying sustainable financial resources for common projects of local and regional authorities, including assistance programmes developed by the EU;
- contributing to the promotion of exercising of the citizen´s rights to participate in the public administration at local level.

20. That the participating international organizations and the national, regional and local authorities focus in the coming months on finalizing the negotiations on:

The countries concerned are pro memoriam:
1. Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia (as observer), Turkey, Ukraine as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Greece
3. At a later stage: other interested states