[From the Introduction]. ...the main objectives of this Discussion Paper are, first of all, to define the wider Black Sea Region in terms of history, geography and current geopolitics. However, this is not an easy task. As Aydin stresses, there are many analysts who question whether the Black Sea area is a region at all, arguing that it is not seen as such from the outside (by the international community), nor from the inside (by the Black Sea countries themselves). (8) Furthermore, Valinakis claims that the term ‘Black Sea area (or region)’ has been used in the literature in a rather flexible way (9) and Roberts simply argues that defining the Black Sea region is still a ‘matter of taste’ (10). Also, the various terms (Mare Maggiore and Mare Maius – the Great Sea, Pontos Axeinos – the dark or somber Sea, Pontus Euxinus – the welcoming sea, Kara Deniz – the dark forbidding Sea among others) used over the long course of history reveal the ‘uniqueness’ of this sea. Nevertheless, as it will be shown in the subsequent chapters all the regions are to some extend subjectively defined and can thus be understood, as Adler has remarked, as ‘cognitive regions’. (11) The second objective of this thesis is to analyse the policies of the EU towards the region by emphasizing the policy failures of the past and the opportunities and challenges for the future. The third objective is to demonstrate the sudden emergence of the Black Sea region into the zone of interest and influence of the EU – and of other key external actors at the same time – and also to reveal the obstacles towards enhanced cooperation that stem from various factors. Last but certainly not least, the most ambitious part of this thesis is to propose some guidelines for a new EU driven strategy towards the region.