Geopolitical and geoeconomic systems are facing the process of complicating and increasing risks, which are often in harmony with new threats and challenges of the modern world. This process has a temporal character, that is, each region has its own rhythm of transformation. There are regions that are, figuratively speaking, in a “border state” – between potential destabilization and more dynamic regional cooperation. Regions of this type are usually very sensitive to all sorts of risks and can be explosive in geopolitical and geoeconomic terms. In our opinion, the current Black Sea basin is one of such regions. For it, minimizing of current risks is vital.
In the context of these global systems, the Black Sea basin can also be described as a border region. This geopolitical area geographically and economically connects Southeast Europe with the Caspian basin and China as part of the One Belt, One Road project. In this sense, it is a fundamentally important connecting bridge between the South Caucasus states (mainly Azerbaijan and Georgia) and the Eastern European countries (primarily with Ukraine).
Such a geopolitical and geoeconomic status and the functionality of the Black Sea basin requires the creation of such a safe and stable geopolitical and economic environment where risk minimization would be possible. In the Black Sea region, the main political centers of the world began to wage a fiercer struggle for the sphere of influence of interests. The USA, EU, China and Russia at this stage are risky bidding for the region. China mainly operates on a geo-economic realm via the One Belt, One Road project. But no one doubts that the geopolitical interests of the Middle Kingdom are hidden behind this.
Some international law actors in this region sometimes consciously resort to the use of Hard Power elements. This is done mainly to correct the behavior or interests of competitors in a given region. As a result of this multidirectional, geopolitical and geoeconomic activity in this region, several hotbeds of risk appeared. The problem of the Crimean Peninsula, separatism and military conflict in the Donbass, the difficult competition over energy projects, trade wars, sanctions and other factors are turning the Black Sea basin into an arena of dangerous scenarios for the disruption of stability and the development of economic cooperation. From this perspective, the pulling together of additional military force into the Black Sea basin by certain blocks, alliances, as well as regional actors is seen as a serious obstacle to the development of cooperation in the geoeconomic realm.
But in reality, the regional countries and adjacent regions have a huge historical, geopolitical, geo-economic, transport, energy potential for cooperation. This can be seen by the example of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Until 2013, the volume of trade between Azerbaijan and Ukraine exceeded 1 billion US dollars. However, the well-known events and armed confrontations in this region had an extremely negative impact on the development of this dynamics. At the end of 2015, the trade volume between the two countries amounted to only 333 million US dollars, but over the next 3 years, our countries managed to raise this figure by two and a half times and over the period of 2018, it reached the level of 829 million US dollars.
Thus, the source of geo-economic risks in the Black Sea basin is not the geo-economic specifics of the region itself, but the geopolitical struggle for dominance in the region. This gives a new boost to the interaction of geopolitical and geoeconomic risks in this region. This dynamics is defined by the fact that over time it is becoming more difficult to forecast and mange risks in order to ensure security, maintain political and economic stability and develop geo-economic cooperation.
Hudiyev Azer Hudayar oglu – Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Ukraine