As if the region didn’t have enough problems. Russia is out to reclaim her old empire. Russia and her ally China are busily gaining influence in the world’s energy rich regions and strategic chokepoints.
The control of Eastern energy supplies will also allow Russia to more easily pressure the EU into its sphere of influence.
From the Communist Party of Australia’s Guardian
“Everybody knows that the Balkans and the Black Sea region were of special interest to us”, Putin told reporters at the end of a summit of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russia’s influence in the Balkans diminished. “Russia, with its increasing potentials, is coming back to this region. This is an obvious fact”, he said.
Putin was among 12 leaders at the talks held in Istanbul, Turkey. This group of countries include Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Moldova and Serbia.
A joint declaration issued at the end of the summit acknowledged that political problems between member states were hindering economic exchange in the oil-rich region and called for their peaceful settlement.
The declaration said that member countries were ready “to deepen co-operation in the area of energy and co-operate with the European Union and other international partners to ensure fair access to energy resources and markets on a mutual basis for all interested countries”.
The region covered by the Balkan and Black Sea countries is the world’s second-largest source of oil and natural gas after the Persian Gulf and is a major transit corridor for energy supplies bound for Europe.
Removing trade barriers was another priority and they called for closer co-operation with the EU and for the “earliest” settlement of political tensions and territorial conflicts between member states.