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12 Jan 2024

Turkiye Spearheads Trilateral MCM Initiative In The Black Sea

Turkiye Spearheads Trilateral MCM Initiative In The Black Sea
Turkish Ministry of Defence
Originally posted on Naval News - By Tayfun Ozberk

Türkiye, Bulgaria, and Romania have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Istanbul as part of the "Trilateral Initiative" launched by three countries to counter the sea mine threat in the Black Sea. 

After the final approval of the Memorandum at the national level and by the other involved parties, the operational planning process for the Mine Countermeasure (MCM) activity in the Black Sea will commence shortly. Once completed, the Mine Action Group will be activated to carry out specific actions.

Originally, the MCM Black Sea plan envisioned the participation of mine action vessels exclusively from the three Black Sea states. The actions will primarily take place in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of the participating countries to eliminate the sea mine threat.

The executive body responsible for decision-making, management, consultation, and overall direction of the mine countermeasure operations will be the Committee for the Naval Group for Mine Countermeasures in the Black Sea. This committee will be composed of the chiefs of naval forces from the three participating countries. Based on the decisions made by this committee, a schedule for the conduct of operations in specific areas will be created. This schedule will indicate the forces intended to participate during each period of activation of the group, with no more than four periods of 15 days each in a calendar year.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler expressed his pleasure to host the signing ceremony of this memorandum, which will contribute to regional security and stability in the Black Sea region. Minister Güler also touched on the importance of the Montreaux Convention in this case, saying “In February 2022, the Black Sea littoral countries were affected in different ways by the war that broke out in Ukraine. First of all, I would like to emphasize that in this sensitive period in which risks and threats are increasing and conflicts are evolving into wars, we, as Turkey, are making multifaceted efforts to establish regional and global security, peace and stability."

“In the aftermath of the crisis in the Black Sea, we have made intensive diplomatic efforts to end the conflicts, provide humanitarian aid, establish a grain corridor and establish lasting peace. In line with the principle of regional ownership, Turkey has carefully, responsibly and impartially implemented and is implementing the Montreux Convention on the Straits, which ensures the balance in the Black Sea and is of great importance for the security of the region. We would like to thank all states that have abided by the rules of the Montreux Convention to date, and we expect the same sensitivity from all states in the future. In this process, protection from the security risks of war has been of vital importance for the littoral allies.”

Yaşar Güler, Türkiye’s Minister of Defence

On January 10, 2023, just one day prior to the signing ceremony, the Romanian Ministry of Defense declared that the agreement would involve the support of NATO allies, including the Standing Maritime Groups. However, according to Turkish media, Romania’s assertion was not incorporated into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). As per the MoU, only three Black Sea states will send Mine Countermeasure (MCM) vessels to clear sea mines in the region. Nevertheless, following the ceremony, Romanian Defence Minister Angel Tilvar mentioned NATO allies in his tweet.

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