Black Sea Interconnection (BSI) project will build a regional research and education network among south Caucasus countries and link them to Geant2, the high bandwidth, pan-European research network
This flagship project is the largest of its kind in the region and will allow Caucasian research communities to participate effectively in joint research and educational activities with the rest of Europe.
The European Commission provides euro1.4 million funding for the BSI project within 7th Framework Programme for R+D.
The BSI project will bridge the digital divide between the South Caucasian National Research and Education Networks, namely Grena (Georgia), Azrena (Azerbaijan), Nas RA (Armenia), and Europe by establishing a high-speed backbone network in the South Caucasus region and connecting it to the pan-European Geant2 network.
The Turkish National Research and Education Network, Tubitak Ulakbim, co-ordinates the Black Sea Interconnection venture - this being a flagship project and the largest project coordinated by Turkey in the Framework Programme.
"Building on the excellent results achieved in south-eastern Europe, the BSI project aims at reducing the digital divide between the countries surrounding the Black Sea and Europe," said Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for information society and media.
"Our support to research network infrastructures not only facilitates cooperation of scientists on a global scale but also provides access to modern online services which have significant impact on sectors like medicine, education and meteorology.
"These are tangible benefits for both researchers and the whole population".
Interconnecting the southern Caucasus via a regional backbone network and providing a high-speed link to Geant2 and Europe enables the introduction of new services to the region and is an important step towards the integration of the Caucasian scientific potential with the Europe and the rest of the world.
This will bridge the digital divide between the south Caucasus countries and Europe, enabling greater collaboration on scientific projects all around the world.
The Black Sea Interconnection represents an invaluable opportunity to realise the objectives of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).
It will help BSEC to concentrate directions of regional scientific and technological collaboration, sharing best practices, undertaking joint projects of common interest to all member states and stipulating cooperation among the BSEC member states and with other organisations, in particular with the EU via the advanced Geant2 network.
"The Black Sea Interconnection is not only integrating and linking the research and education communities in the southern Caucasus with Europe, but also functions as a role model to extend the scope of its achievements across the whole Black Sea Region to Central Asia by introducing substantial interregional elements," said Cem Sarac, director of Tubitak Ulakbim.
This transforms the former Silk Route into a modern e-Silk Route by realising a network endowed by high capacity connections.
The Black Sea Interconnection project runs for 24 months from 1 March 2008 onwards.
The regional network and the connection to Geant2 is planned to be operational later in 2008.