South East Defence Ministerial (SEDM) is a process of cooperation between the Ministries of Defence of Southeast Europe (SEE) aimed at strengthening political-military cooperation in the region and improving stability and security in the SEE. It was first initiated in March 1996 in Tirana, as the first in a series of joint meetings between defence ministers, deputy defence ministers and deputy chiefs of general staffs of Southeast Europe countries.
The legal framework for cooperation within the initiative is the Agreement on the Establishment of a Coordination Committee in the Framework of South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial Committee within the SEDM process signed in Thessaloniki in 2000, and the subsequent Agreement on the Establishment of a Coordination Committee in the Framework of South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial Process signed in Sofia in 2009.
SEDM member states are: Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Republic of Georgia, Republic of Greece, Republic of Italy, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Slovenia, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Ukraine and the USA, while the Republic of Moldova has the status of an observer country.
The SEDM initiative has two governing bodies, the SEDM Coordination Committee (SEDM CC) and the Political Military Steering Committee (PMSC), which is managed by the Secretariat on a two-year rotational basis. Currently (2021-2023), the SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat is chaired by the Republic of Bulgaria, which in July 2021 took over the presidency from the Republic of Albania. The Chairman of the SEDM-CC/PMSC Secretariat is the Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria, Plamen Hristov Jordanov.
Several projects operate within the SEDM initiative.
The largest and most important is the MPFSEE (Multinational Peacekeeping Force Southeast Europe), i.e. SEEBRIG (South-East European Brigade). The Brigade was established in 1999 based on the MPFSEE Agreement signed by the Ministers of Defence on 26 September 1998 in Skopje, the Republic of Macedonia. SEEBRIG was established by seven member states (Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Albania, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Greece, Republic of Italy, Romania and the Republic of Turkey). SEEBRIG is governed by the Political Military Steering Committee (PMSC). The Republic of North Macedonia contributes to SEEBRIG with a Mechanized Infantry Company, an Engineering platoon (both units are stationed in the Republic of North Macedonia and are on call) and with 8 staff officers.
From August 2020, the Republic of North Macedonia is hosting the SEEBRIG Headquarters. SEEBRIG HQ is located in the “Boro Menkov” barracks in Kumanovo, while the family members of the staff are in Skopje.
Status of the SEDM process
Currently (2021–2023), the coordinating bodies of the SEDM initiative are chaired by the Republic of Bulgaria.
Within the SEDM initiative, there are several projects whose main goal is to enhance regional cooperation, exchange experiences and information in different areas and advance the functioning of the SEDM process.
SEESIM (South East Europe Simulation Exercise)
The SEESIM project is a series of simulation exercises conducted every two years and is conceived as a collaboration between countries in the SEE region through networking to exchange information and assist in crisis management, both natural and man-made. Within the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia, the project holder is the Department for Civil-Military Cooperation (DCVS) with the Regional Defence Centers (RDC) of the MoD.
SEESIM – South East Europe Simulation Exercise.
FLSD (Female Leadership in security and defence)
The FLSD project was initially promoted by the Republic of Bulgaria, and it was approved and accepted at the meeting of the SEDM Defence Ministerial held on 03.10.2011 in Antalya, Turkey. The goal is to advance the process of implementation of the gender perspective and capacity development through the exchange of ideas and exchange of information of common interest.
BII (Building Integrity Initiative)
The main goal of this project, also promoted by the Republic of Bulgaria, is to reduce the risks of corruption in the security sector. Given that no significant activities have taken place within the project in the past two years, Bulgaria proposed at the next meeting for this project to be excluded from the agenda.
IMIHO (Interconnection of Military Hospitals)
IMIHO (Interconnection of Military Hospitals) as a project within the SEDM initiative is an international non-profit initiative that enables the exchange of medical information between Military Hospitals in a fast, easy, cheap and simple way, using Internet technology. The project holder is Greece. Within the MoD of the Republic of North Macedonia, the project holder is the General Staff of Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (coordinator – LTC Elizabeta Naumovska Petreski).
SEDM WEB Portal
The aim of this project is to provide a permanent secure portal, i.e. information service that supports SEDM. The portal provides secure exchange of information and documents that are created during the implementation of SEDM activities. Within the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia, the project holder is the C4 Department.