Mr. Eleftherios Anghelopoulos (Chairman), your excellences, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues it is my honor to Welcome you in Georgia.
This meeting is notably important for us, as today Georgia is for the first time hosting the South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial Meeting in its touristic capital Batumi.
We like to say, that here in Batumi, European and Asian cultures meet. Cultural mix is justified by the historic facts. The first mentioning of Batumi can be found in the works of Greek philosopher Aristotle, it is related to the 4th century BC. Aristotle described the city calling it Batus, from Greek "deep".
So for us it is notable, that the Hellenic Republic is chairing the SEDM Ministerial for the next two years and on behalf of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia I would also like to express my gratitude for the effort, SEDM secretariat is putting for the success of the SEDM project.
The beginning of the XXI century has been marked by deep turbulences in the geopolitical volatility, manifested all around the world with the Conventional and non Conventional challenges. The challenges are directly affecting us - countries of the Black Sea and South–East European Region. SEDM Platform gives unique opportunity for promoting the regional cooperation and strengthening the defence capabilities to overcome the existing security challenges.
In 2015 on the Ministerial meeting in Dubrovnik, when Georgia expressed willingness to welcome the SEDM Ministerial in 2017, date seemed far away. However, to strengthening the importance of the meeting, we broadened the format by combining it with high level forum, including representatives from western and eastern European countries and our Nordic and Baltic partners.
The SEDM Ministerial meeting will be followed by the eleventh Georgia Defence and Security Conference (GDSC).
Our initiative to organize such conference was derived from the vision that the united Europe can better deal with the complex and rapidly deteriorating security environment. Thus I would like to welcome each and every guest who will be joining us for this additional opportunity for thought-provoking plenary sessions and group discussions, designed to scrutinize key defence and security-related topics.
Let me stop on this and and pass the floor to the Chairman of the SEDM Ministerial Mr. Eleftherios Anghelopoulos.