About black sea security program


The Black Sea Security Program had its genesis in 1997 when Harvard Kennedy School reached out to Ukraine as a fledgling democracy. Over the years this program has expanded its reach first to include other former Soviet Black Sea countries and currently to countries in the greater Black Sea region. An overarching goal has been to encourage regional security through cooperation and integration. It is unique in its mission to bring together leading policy makers in the region with senior US officials to gain a deeper understanding of issues affecting the region and to encourage problem solving in areas of common interest. The program typically involves senior military representatives and civilian security specialists from the United States and ten regional countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Recent efforts to reach out have brought participants from Kazakhstan, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia to Harvard. The Black Sea Security Program and its predecessor – the Ukrainian National Security Program – have brought together more than 400 regional participants and 200 American participants since 1997.

The program aims to:

Deepen participants' understanding of global and regional strategy, defense organization, and military reform and restructuring;

Identify the very broad common areas of agreement that exist among the Black Sea nations and expose their officials and the US participants to the strong common history and shared values of the region;

Highlight the specific areas of current cooperation on issues of vital interest to these countries and, at the same time, identify those issues which divide them and present challenges to regional cooperation;

Expose the Black Sea officials to the free flow of ideas inherent in the pluralistic American system and within the US national security community itself by engaging them with officials who represent a wide range of viewpoints.

The 2010 program took place from April 12-23, 2010. Slovenia hosted the initial gathering and was sponsored by the Ministry of Defense. Regional participants came together in Ljubljana to better understand Balkan issues in a regional context. The group moved on to Paris for a second program sponsored by the EU Institute for Strategic Studies. This was another example of building bridges to other organizations with common interests. The participants spent the majority of the time gaining a better understanding of the EU and its role in European governance and security. With great misfortune, the Iceland volcano prohibited the regional participants from departing Paris. After many valiant efforts, the 14 regional participants in Paris were unable to make it to Harvard. The decision was made to continue the program with the US delegation. Representatives from 7 of the regional countries who were not part of the Paris delegation were able to make it to Harvard.


Regional Workshops were added to the program concept in 2002 to 1) strengthen and expand the regional network encouraged by the annual Black Sea Security Program; 2) provide a forum for regional experts to discuss critical security issues pertaining to the region; 3) involve US general officers and policy makers in Black Sea regional dialogue; and 4) recruit key individuals for future iterations of the program. The most recent Harvard Black Sea Security Program Regional Workshop took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was organized by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria in cooperation with Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Bulgaria, and the NATO Information Center in Sofia. It was co-sponsored by The Black Sea Trust, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Over 70 participants from 14 countries took part in the workshop entitled “The Black Sea: Risks of Confrontation, Prospects for Cooperation”.

Prior Workshops took place in Yalta, Ukraine (2002); Baku, Azerbaijan (2003); Batumi, Georgia (2004), Chisinau, Moldova (2005), Bucharest, Romania, (2006), Kiev, Ukraine (2007), Yerevan, Armenia (2008) and Moscow, Russia (2009). In addition to program alumni, the workshops host European representatives from NATO, the EU, and various international organizations. The Workshops have been an ideal venue for bringing alumni together with European representatives from both government and non-government organizations.

The next Regional Workshop will take place in Istanbul, Turkey in 2011.

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