Three Seas Initiative Gets Investment Fund

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, June 6, 2019 – The Three Seas Initiative has been given at a summit in Ljubljana a new dimension – an investment fund for building the transport, energy and digital infrastructure, member states’ officials said on Wednesday.

The two-day summit of the initiative that was launched in 2015 by Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda is being held in Slovenia on Wednesday and Thursday. The forum comprises 12 European Union member states in Central and Eastern Europe between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

Three summits have been held, in Dubrovnik in 2016, in Warsaw in 2017 and in Bucharest in 2018. This year’s summit, supported for the second time by a business forum, attracted 600 business representatives from 43 countries around the globe.

A novelty at this year’s summit is that a report on the progress in key projects will be presented at the end of the forum, President Grabar-Kitarović said, assessing that the initiative has developed “unbelievably” since 2015 when it came across a lot of scepticism.

“Another exceptional thing is the investment fund that was launched last year when a non-binding letter of intent was signed between banks in our countries. Today it becomes a real fund which currently includes Poland and Romania, but negotiations are being conducted with European investment and development banks as well as the World Bank, so it is expected that they will also participate, and then other countries too,” she said after the panel discussion “The EU between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas.”

Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor also participated in the panel discussion as did Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid, Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Poland’s President Duda, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Czech President Milos Zeman, who attended the summit for the first time.

Grabar-Kitarović said that transport infrastructure, digitisation and the LNG terminal on Krk are Croatia’s main interests within the initiative, adding that the LNG terminal is not only important as far as energy is concerned but also strategically.

“It is important that the entire area of Central Europe is not be dependent on one energy source and to diversify and connect the entire area.” Digitisation, she said, is the “solution to a lot of problems in Croatia, including emigration.”

“Broadband internet and its introduction would enable better education as well as the possibility of living in Croatia while working elsewhere.” That is particularly important for remote and small places such as islands, rural and mountain areas, she added.

Duda recalled that travelling from Tallin, Estonia to Constanta, Romania takes three days, yet it only takes one day to travel from Barcelona, Spain to Gothenburg, Sweden, which shows the great difference in connectivity between the west and east compared to the north and south.

Radev underlined that a good indicator that the initiative was heading in the right direction was the great interest that Brussels has shown, while Estonia’s president warned that future projects should not only be competitive but clean as well because the planet needs to be saved. Estonia is known as a digital leader so she said that Tallinn is prepared to head the digital connectivity of the region.

President Zeman spoke about connecting the Elbe, Oder and Danube rivers as complementary to the initiative. He underscored that that was not important only because of water transport but for water supply too. Grabar-Kitarović later welcomed his proposal particularly in reference to the river port in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.

Szijjarto once again reiterated that Central Europe would be the driver of the EU’s growth. We have shown that less duplicity, double standards and political correctness bring better results, he said.

Perry supported strengthening the energy union and said that today the USA, as the leading global producer of oil and natural gas, is introducing a balance in the energy world and that that can be beneficial to friends and allies.

We will never use energy as a means of political coercion, he said referring to Russia.

Participants at the summit said that next year Ukraine could join the initiative.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier joined the summit in the afternoon for the first time. Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to support the initiative on Friday.

More news about the Three Seas Initiative can be found in the Politics section.


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