Kick-off Meeting I Brussels

The kick-off meeting of the Black Sea CONNECT, took place on 10-11 December 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.

The Black Sea CONNECT is a Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action project that aims to support the Blue Growth Initiative for Research and Innovation in the Black Sea for the implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and promotion of a shared vision for a productive, healthy, resilient and sustainable Black Sea by 2030. he initiative will help to deeper connect Black Sea societies through a bridge of new knowledge, technologies, and services. The initiative aims to foster human and infrastructure capacity building in coastal, marine, and maritime sectors in view of unlocking unique opportunities for a sustainable and environmentally friendly blue growth in the Black Sea.

The Black Sea CONNECT is METU-IMS led consortium which involves fourteen organizations from nine countries; the Black Sea coastal countries, namely the Republic of Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine as well as Republic of Moldova and European Union countries Germany and France.

The kick-off meeting program of Black Sea CONNECT started off with a launch reception kindly hosted by the Turkish Business and Industry Association (TUSIAD) where Dilek Aydın, TUSIAD Representative and Kemal Bozay, the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the EU, together with Mehmet Zeyrek, Middle East Technical University Vice Rector welcomed the attendees to the reception.

On day 1, Sigi Gruber, Head of Unit of Healthy Seas and Oceans of Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) and Andreea Strachinescu, Head of Unit, Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment of the Directorate-General for EU Maritime & Fish (DG MARE) also joined the Ambassador, the Vice-Rector and Baris Salihoglu, the Director of Middle East Technical University Institute of Marine Sciences. Later in the day, the work planned for the 3-year project, milestones and deliverables were presented and discussed. A roundtable session was held with the representatives of countries involved and Sigi Gruber as the representative of the European Commission (EC) for discussing the national agendas for implementing SRIA moderated by Ana Teresa Caetano, Policy Officer in the DG RTD.
Day 2 started with a panel session on the broader sea basin policy landscape with the perspectives of John Bell, Director of Healthy Planet Directorate in DG RTD, Christos Economou, Head of Unit of the Sea Basin Strategies, Maritime Regional Cooperation and Maritime Security in DG MARE and Radoslaw Darski, Deputy Head of Division in European External Action Service – EEAS. A common message among panellists was the importance of such Black Sea CONNECT for using science as a bridge to bring communities across the world together, protecting Europe’s Ecosystems and biodiversity and the overall contribution of the project in the new direction of the Union with the recently launched Green Deal by the EC. The meeting is wrapped up after sessions of project-specific technicalities and internal Consortium meeting.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to those who joined us. With the excellent support we have received in these two days, we are now excited more than ever to work tirelessly for a productive, healthy, resilient, and sustainable Black Sea in the next three years.