The wider Balkan and Black Sea region is often portrayed as an area of endemic unrest, economic malaise, and even conflict. Yet, this overall gloomy picture doesn’t tell the whole story: since the 1990s, a number of important positive developments marked our countries at local, national and regional level.
The overarching priority is to exploit and increase the vast potential of the region, in terms of both social and economic development, in particular, through the promotion of transboundary cooperation, with the involvement of national and regional actors, the public sector and local authorities, academic institutions, private entrepreneurs and NGOs.
In such an environment, with a concern for the present and vivid hopes for a better future, a new initiative was born, the “Balkan and Black Sea Cooperation Forum”, the first meeting of which will take place in the hospitable city of Serres in Macedonia, Greece. In its framework, representatives from the state and private domain will have the chance to focus on the various issues confronting the wider region, with the vow to, hopefully, come up with answers and solutions and explore together opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation.
The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, which I have the honor to represent, is the oldest and, institutionally, the more mature regional entity promoting mainly economic cooperation among its 12 Member States and beyond. For 25 years now, the Organization has established a culture of dialogue and understanding, it has implemented many projects in many sectors, it has established useful networks among state and private institutions, in a nutshell: it has offered a lot to the wider region of the Black Sea in what concerns cooperation and coordination among States.
Thus, we can only express appreciation and satisfaction for this new initiative and pledge our full support for the successful continuation of its activities.
We wish to the organizers every success in their endeavors and thank the people and the city of Serres for the excellent preparation of the “1st Balkan and Black Sea Cooperation Forum” and for the warm hospitality extended to all participants.
Ambassador Michael B. Christides,
Permanent International Secretariat of the
Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.