Department of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will host defense ministers from thirteen southeast European nations in connection with the 10th meeting of the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial (SEDM) process. The conference, to be held in Washington, D.C., Dec 5-6, 2005, is an annual forum for ministers to discuss a wide range of mutual regional security issues.
The SEDM ministerial will provide the ministers an opportunity to discuss topics including counterproliferation; border security; peacekeeping; regional defense industry exchange and technology sharing; 2006 regional exercises; and the deployment of the Southeastern Europe Brigade in support of peace operations as part of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2006. In addition, Kosovo Force (KFOR) reorganization and preparations to ensure security during status talks will also be addressed.
The conference will mark the accession of Ukraine as a full member of SEDM, bringing membership to eleven countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. Three other nations will be invited: Moldova as an observer, and Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina as guests.
The SEDM process began in 1996 as a regional initiative to serve as a bridge to Euro-Atlantic institutions, particularly NATO. Its stated objectives are to:
- Promote peace and stability in the region
- Enhance cooperation and regional security
- Support NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) programs.
Media are invited to cover the following events on Dec. 6:
- Plenary session opening comments at 8:30 a.m.
- Minsters group photo at 12:30 p.m.
- Press conference at 3 p.m.