Ambassador Michael B. CHRISTIDES is the Secretary General of the Permanent International Secretariat (PERMIS) of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey.
Born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1949, Ambassador Christides joined the Hellenic MFA in 1976 as first in his Class and served with distinction until his retirement in August 2014. Among other assignments he served as Ambassador of Greece to Bulgaria, to Turkey and to Argentina and held senior posts in the Hellenic MFA as Political Director for South East Europe, as Director General for International Organizations, International Security & Cooperation and as Director General for International Economic Relations.
Ambassador Christides participated in many international meetings and conferences and has spent more than 20 years dealing with S.E. European / Balkan issues, while travelling extensively in the region. He acquired a broad knowledge of the political and economic realities there and established a wide personal network of high-level political, business, academic and media contacts. He speaks fluent English, German, French, Italian and moderately good Spanish.
After his retirement Ambassador Christides was elected by the BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs as Secretary General of the BSEC PERMIS, assuming his duties on 1 July 2015.
1. In the unstoppable globalization of our world, regional cooperation is considered as one of the cornerstones for establishing mutually advantageous relations of cooperation and coordination in the immediate neighbourhood.
2. Yet, although all States profess to appreciate the obvious and significant advantages of regional cooperation, some of them approach the issue with selfish or even nationalistic inclinations.
3. A living example of the advantages of regional cooperation is the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation: for 25 years it has been promoting networks and bonds of cooperation, establishing a culture of dialogue and understanding in a sensitive and geo-strategically very important region.
4. Yet, at the same time, experience gained from the functioning of the BSEC Organization has showed once again that if regional cooperation is to bear lasting and tangible results, a lot has to be changed in the mentality and approach of States on how to participate and get involved in what we usually understand under the term of “international cooperation”.