BLACKSEAFOR TO ENHANCE ALL INVOLVED COUNTRIES' NAVAL POTENTIAL: RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

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MOSCOW, August 5 (RIA Novosti) - The Blackseafor 2004 naval games are taking start. Russia expects them to spectacularly contribute to all involved navies' might and so promote their countries' interests, says Boris Malakhov, deputy spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The regular games were launched three years ago to gather every August for smooth teamwork at sea by all signatory countries of a 2001 agreement to establish a Black Sea naval operation group, the Blackseafor.

Long negotiations started after Turkey advanced the initiative, 1998. The agreement signing crowned the talks in April 2001. The signatories-Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine-proceeded "from the necessity for further progress of partnership and dialogue between the Black Sea littoral countries" to set up the Blackseafor.

The operation group has a rotating command. Georgia leads it this year. So a Georgian seaport will start the exercise, which will spread to the entire Black Sea.

Russia attaches tremendous importance to Black Sea countries' naval alliance. Moscow hosted, July 7, the latest conference of Foreign Ministers' special envoys of the Black Sea Six-Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. The gathering confirmed a shared conviction of teamwork vitally necessary to repulse new security challenges, in particular, terrorism and NCB trafficking.

The Black Sea Six's experts will quite soon make detailed studies of all related issues, Mr. Malakhov said to a media audience.

Batumi, seaport and capital of Adzharia, Georgia's autonomy, will host staff sessions, August 5 into 11. Georgia will officially acquire Blackseafor command on the closing day. Next will come air-supported naval exercises in Georgian territorial waters, to last up to August 17, when the involved warships are to leave Georgia for other Black Sea ports-Russia's Novorossiisk and Ukraine's Sevastopol in the Crimea. The games will finish, August 28.

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