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DIPLOMACY ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ

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STRATEGIC EQUILIBRIUM IN

STRATEGIC EQUILIBRIUM IN THE BLACK SEA REGION IN THE CONTEXT... create some prerequisites for Turkey’s getting back to the already mentioned traditional Turkish policy of isolating NATO, along with the non-littoral NATO Member States, from some more visible participation in the balance-seeking process in the Black Sea. In the current context, the only Black Sea naval format that has some prospects for development in the future is the Turkish national Black Sea “Harmony Operation”, which is coordinated by the naval center in Eregli, Turkey. A particular characteristic feature of this format involves the fact that this operation is not labeled “regional” and does not involve the participation of all six littoral Black Sea countries, Bulgaria included. Bearing in mind the most likely lack of interest on the part of Georgia and Ukraine to participate in a format in which Russia takes part, as well as Bulgaria’s and Romania’s position in relation to the Black Sea “Harmony Operation”, this format is doomed to remain only bilateral between Turkey and Russia. It is fairly probable that, in its endeavors to preserve the strategic balance in the Black Sea between itself and Russia alone, Turkey could make an attempt to restrict the naval role of NATO, or of the non-littoral NATO Member States in the Black Sea, including in the context of the Montreux Convention restrictions. In the 21 st century, Turkey has already imposed a similar restriction. After the 2008 war in South Ossetia, Georgia, Turkey refused to allow a transit passing through the Straits of two American humanitarian ships heading for Georgia on the grounds of tonnage restrictions (where the tonnage did not have to exceed a total of 45 000 tons). Over the years, the Bulgarian policy, which is largely shared by Romania, has been clear and consistent. Bulgaria has always considered the Black Sea to be a region in the European and the Euro-Atlantic context and has, quite consistently, insisted upon an inclusive approach in the regional security area, including a more tangible NATO and EU presence in the Black Sea. The Allies’ decision that was made in Warsaw in relation to a more adapted front presence in the Black Sea involves measures which relate particularly to the conduct of enhanced military exercises and drills aimed at ensuring greater visibility, by adhering at the same time to the restrictions of the 1936 Montreux Convention concerning the mode of navigation through the Straits. In its capacity of a NATO Member State and being one of the six littoral Black Sea countries, Bulgaria is prepared to be an active participant in the implementation of these measures. They are all defensive in nature and are supposed to be implemented under the conditions of full transparency. Their main objective is to ease the tension and reduce the military incident risks, as well as to build stability and predictability in this region. The objectives set by virtue of the Warsaw decisions are in full harmony with the meaning of the message that the Bulgarian prime minister has conveyed in relation to NATO’s role in the Black Sea, namely: easing the tension, participation of all NATO Allies, and not restricting the adapted front presence format to the three littoral Black Sea NATO Member States. Bulgaria will continue to defend its position on NATO’s role in the Black Sea, led by the conviction that the implementation of all values of the North Atlantic Alliance is going to guarantee security and stability. NATO’s Open Door Policy is an instrument employed in the process of building a new and sustainable security architecture in the Black Sea region. After NATO had submitted a membership invitation to Montenegro and had signed afterwards the relevant Membership Protocol, it should continue to work for meeting the commitments it has already made in relation to the integration of the other countries having NATO-membership aspirations. Another instrument employed in the process of building the new strategic security environment is aimed at extending the scale of practical cooperation DIPLOMACY 18/2016 149

STRATEGIC EQUILIBRIUM IN THE BLACK SEA REGION IN THE CONTEXT... and enhancing the interoperability between NATO and the regional NATO partner countries by means of conducting more exercises, by a more active exchange within the framework of the NATO Allied and partner education and training centers, as well as by using the whole set of instruments of the North Atlantic Alliance’s partnership policy. The future NATO enhanced role in the Black Sea and the implementation of the measures adopted by the NATO Member States require consensus within the framework of this organization. We commend NATO for having remained strong and united in the face of the new security challenges, notwithstanding the individual geographical or geopolitical situation of the individual NATO states, the individual historical experience of these states, and the current relations with Russia, as well as with the Middle East and the North African countries. Dragomir Zakov was appointed at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March, 2002, with the NATO and International Security Directorate, as an export control and regional security expert. To date, he has worked for over 14 years in the areas of multilateral diplomacy, international and regional security, humanitarian affairs, the United Nations Organization, NATO, the EU and the OSCE, as well as in some other international organizations. Mr. Zakov has also had several mandates abroad – at the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Bulgaria to NATO in Brussels (2004-2008), at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations, as well as at some other organizations in Geneva (2011-2014). In the period 2006-2010, he was deputy national representative to NATO in the area of conventional weapons control issues. He has also been coordinator of the East-European Regional Group in Geneva (2012-2014), as well co-Chair of the Committee on the General Status of the Mine Ban Convention (2013). Following his return from Geneva in 2014, he has been Director of the Weapons Control and Non-Proliferation Department within the UN and Development Cooperation Directorate, as well as “cooperate” director in the area of disarmament issues in the EU context. Since August 1, 2016, Mr. Zakov has been Director of the NATO and Regional Security Directorate. 150 ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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