Tamara Makareno's 2003 article, “Due Diligence in the Black Sea Region,” explores the trend of increasing criminal activity in the Black Sea area and asserts the potential for terrorism-related activities there in the future. Is the Black Sea the next battleground in the war on terror?
Thesis: An important economic resource for trade among Europe, the Middle East, and central Asia, over the past decade the Black Sea area has also seen a large upturn in various kinds of criminal behavior, e.g. , smuggling. The increased presence of organized crime in the region may indicate a higher risk of terrorism-related activities in the future.
The Black Sea is an important transportation hub for trade among Western Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is a vital source of economic prosperity for countries bordering it. ...Energy exports are a particularly important commodity transported through the Black Sea. However, the lack of political stability in the region has allowed the increase of criminal activity, e.g., smuggling and maritime, such as piracy.
The rise of organized crime in the Black sea has been due to 4 primary factors:
1) financing needs of ethno-nationalist groups in area, e.g., Georgia, Moldova and Russia;
2) rise of corruption due to weak governance;
3) measures to boost legal economic environment have also facilitated illegal activities;
4) advantageous geographical location of B.S. as link between Europe and Asia.
Smuggling: weapons, narcotics, humans, cigarettes and petroleum, e.g.,
Weapons: Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine Romania are major source for illicit weapons trade;
Narcotics: originally just transshipment points, now area seeing increased local demand;
Human smuggling: Turkey and Ukraine are key points in intercontinental trade and from the Black Sea region itself;
Smuggling Dynamics: high level of sophistication; cycle of intimidation and corruption. Indigenous criminal groups are a conglomeration of traditional criminals, new entrepreneurs; and government officials. Every Black Sea littoral state has significant smuggling routes.
While terrorism is not a significant problem currently, wide-ranging illicit activities in the Black Sea area make it a possible attractive location for the future. Maritime crime and maritime terrorism may pose problems in future. Currently, the biggest threat in the Black Sear area is piracy, e.g., hijacking oil tankers, considering the large volume of shipments going through the Black Sea. There is some evidence of increased maritime crime, e.g., attacks on fishing and merchant vessels. There is also increasing fear that terrorists will attack ships to gain financing resources and/or attack ships for political reasons.
The unstable and criminal environment has hampered much-needed legitimate investment; investors should keep in mind that:
o Widespread presence of organized crime brings factors of extortion and corruption;
o Side-effects of increased smuggling is taking a toll on the Black Sea workforce and political stability;
o Well-established network of bogus companies, false documents, money laundering, etc. are obstacles to doing legitimate business in the Black Sea region;