Das Schwarze Meer - geopolitischer Brennpunkt zwischenDonau und Kaukasus

21. November 2023 | 18:15-19:45 | Lecture Hall III, Main Building University of Bonn

For centuries, the Black Sea was a "blind spot" for geostrategists. The marginal sea "far to the east" attracted European attention only sporadically. Protracted and bloody Russian-Turkish wars over these warm waters eventually convinced transatlantic powers to move cautiously in the region. However, this attitude of Europeans toward the European Sea, into which three major European rivers - the Danube, Dnipro, and Don - flow, is a perspective of modern times. The Black Sea was the engine of European civilization for centuries. The most important civilizing impulse of ancient Greece, colonization during the archaic period, spread on the sea side of Pontus Euxinus (from Latin: "hospitable sea") in the size of up to a hundred colonies, although the "black waters" with their stormy weather and rough currents did not offer hospitality after all. The Black Sea later became the natural border between Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire, the two great states at the crossroads between North and South, between West and East. The two early medieval states clashed in wars in the stormy waters of the Black Sea, but there were also moments of fateful economic and cultural exchange: in those years, the achieved prosperity of the region turned into an epoch-making state formation.

If you look at the history of the Black Sea, you immediately recognize its main feature - its dualistic character. In these waters East and West, Europe and Asia touch, here continental climate meets subtropical, here Christians border with Muslims, democratic states with authoritarian ones.For years, the Black Sea was a "breadwinner" for countries that profited from the trade routes of these warm waters.But this sense of economic security has recently turned into a major source of uncertainty for the region.Instead of sending out merchant ships with grain, Ukraine now receives missiles launched from the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and instead of seafood, local fishermen collect sea mines from the coasts.

The dramatic events around the Black Sea, triggered by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, today affect not only the security of the littoral states - Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.It seems that the globalized world is discarding the whole idea of the "marginal sea", and now we are witnessing how this boundary waters are taking on a new meaning in modern geopolitics.Can we already see what fresh historical role this dualistic sea of crossings has chosen? What is to be expected from this "(in)hospitable sea" - Pontus Euxinus?


Olha Husieva, Research Associate, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK).

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