The fourth phase of Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship Program started with 2013 BSYRF conference, held in Kadir Has University between 27-30 May. It brought new BSYR fellows together to discuss the contemporary challenges and developments in the Black Sea Region. BSYR Fellowship allows young decision‐makers of tomorrow to join a network and to campaign for what they think the region’s future should and could be. The BSYR project aims at integrating promising aspiring politicians (political party activists), civil servants, public administrators, and civil society activists (including policy analysts working with various think tanks) into an informal body representing the Black Sea’s political and public elites. This network hopes to become a force of change and to be in a position to influence policies and propel institutional and societal changes toward more accountability and transparency in the area.
This year’s project title was announced as the “Ideas without Borders: The Black Sea in Retrospect and Future Prospects”. Conference started with the opening remarks on the past, present and future of Black Sea Young Reformers Fellowship. The keynote speech delivered by Rector Prof. Dr. Mustafa Aydın focused on the present and past regional security matters in the Black Sea. The speech outlined the roots of security challenges, the regional dynamics and world conjuncture structuring Black Sea security environment. In the first day of the conference, First Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Ambassador Ahmet Kamil Erozan made a speech on the institutional perspective and the role of Black Sea Economic Cooperation in dealing with the common challenges in the Black Sea Region. Throughout the panel sessions, workshops and lectures, various debates associated with the Black Sea security, including energy security, the role of democratization and democratic consolidation as the security concern, the role of civil dialogue in dealing with regional conflicts and security challenges, and the role of European Union enlargement strategy as an important denominator for Black Sea dialogue were discussed.
In the further panels, BSYR Fellows presented project proposals introducing innovative ideas on several issues including education, democratization, energy security, health, good governance and civil society dialogue. For the first time in BSYR history, fellows were asked to take a part in a simulation game on Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Fellow delegates representing BSEC countries discussed the issue of combatting trans-border crime. They jointly agreed on a draft resolution in line with the BSEC agreement entered into force in 1999 named “Agreement Among the Governments of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Participating States on Cooperation in Combating Crime, in Particular in its Organized Forms” and the additional protocols following the agreement.
In the third day of the conference, a panel session jointly organized by BSYRF Program and Centre for International and European Studies- Kadir Has University. Panel on “Wider Black Sea Security”, which was moderated by Dimitrios Triandaphyllou, was conducted by the contributions of Bogdan Aurescu, Mitat Çelikpala, Oleh Shamshur and Mitat Çelikpala. This plenary session provided a chance to present alternative views, and different perspectives in dealing with the contemporary issues about wider Black Sea security. Concluding remarks discussed by 2013 fellows, once more, proved that young reformers had much to say for the future of Black Sea region by open-mindedly discussing the long-lasting issues and the new fault lines challenging common security, and suggesting innovative solutions to overcome these challenges.