KIEV, August 17 (Itar-Tass) - Ukraine has taken over the BLACKSEAFOR (Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group) command from Turkey in a ceremony held in Sevastopol on Saturday, August 17.
The ceremony was held as part of the Group’s summer activation with the participation of combat ships from Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, and Russia.
BLACKSEAFOR was created on April 2, 2001 by Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine, which had agreed to form an international task force for the purpose of “enhancing peace and stability in the Black Sea area, by increasing regional co-operation, and improving good relationship.”
The BLACKSEAFOR Establishment Agreement was signed by ministers and their authorised representatives at the signing ceremony, which was held on April 2, 2001, in Istanbul. The signing of the agreement was a testimony of the Black Sea states’ determination to bring the BLACKSEAFOR into life after the successful conclusion of the process of negotiations that was initiated in 1998.
By signing the BLACKSEAFOR agreement, the signatories confirmed that the purpose of this initiative is to contribute to strengthening of regional stability, friendship, good relationship and mutual understanding among the Black Sea littoral states.
BLACKSEAFOR is engaged in search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance, mine-clearing measures, environmental protection, goodwill visits, and any other tasks agreed by all the parties. After the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001, BLACKSEAFOR’s scope of activity was expanded in order to include the fight against terrorism. Littoral countries are still working on BLACKSEAFOR’s transformation process, in order to better adapt the force to the new security environment.
BLACKSEAFOR conducts exercises in order to increase its efficiency and interoperability in the execution of the above mentioned tasks. BLACKSEAFOR is composed of at least four to six ships which are provided by the parties, including one command and control ship.
BLACKSEAFOR is composed of naval elements only, without direct participation of air or army services. It can be supported by elements from other services, as and if necessary.
Units allocated to the force remain at their permanent home base locations and they come together to form an appropriate force for exercise/training activities in accordance with jointly prepared programmes.
BLACKSEAFOR is intended to be used in the Black Sea area, but if required, could be deployed outside this region if the parties agree so by consensus. The Group can also be available for possible employment in the United Nations or Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe-mandated operations. It can also participate in other types of international activities that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the Group.
The parties retain full command of their ships allocated to BLACKSEAFOR and may withdraw them for national purposes at any time by notifying the other parties thereof.
BLACKSEAFOR is an on-call force and currently has no permanent headquarters. It is activated twice yearly and the command structure is based on the principle of rotation. Each littoral assumes leadership for a one-year period.
According to the BLACKSEAFOR Agreement, two scheduled activations take place each year. Unscheduled activations can also take place if participation of 4 ships is achieved.