“Three Seas Initiative in Full Swing”

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 16, 2018 – The Three Seas Initiative, which is aimed at increasing connectivity in Central Europe, is in full swing and is finally proving that it is not directed against the EU, Germany or Russia and that it is not the USA’s Trojan horse, sources at the Office of the Croatian President said ahead of the Initiative’s third summit to be held in Bucharest next week.

On Monday and Tuesday, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will be attending the Bucharest summit of the Three Seas Initiative, an informal political platform which she first mentioned in 2015 and which was soon afterwards joined by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was elected president that year. Today this project for better connectivity, primarily in infrastructure, between countries of the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas is perceived as a Croatian-Polish initiative.

The platform was then presented at a summit in Dubrovnik in 2016, and a summit in Warsaw in 2017, which was also attended by US President Donald Trump, gave it the necessary political impetus.

That is why the summit in Bucharest can now focus on specific projects in the fields of transport, energy and digital interconnection. The goal is for the political dimension of the initiative to transform into project implementation, officials in Zagreb say.

The Three Seas Initiative is increasingly seen by Brussels as something that contributes to European unity, sources at the president’s office said, adding that the best proof of that is the fact that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will attend the Bucharest summit.

The Three Seas Initiative is an informal platform bringing together 12 countries of the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas – Croatia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia and Austria. Improvement of infrastructure connections between those countries is a key precondition for building an area of stability and progress, which can contribute to the EU.

The sources at the president’s office note that the second major change regarding the perception of the initiative was Germany’s expressing interest this summer in joining the initiative as a full member.

Germany will be attending the Bucharest summit as a partner country, a source at the president’s office said, adding that it remained to be seen if Germany would join as a full member. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will attend the Bucharest summit as will US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

Even though sources at the president’s office underline that the Three Seas Initiative is not a US Trojan horse, they do admit that some of the analyses that appeared at the time when the concept of the initiative appeared in Croatia were made by US as well as European think-tanks.

The sources also underline that the Three Seas Initiative is not, as claimed, a cordon sanitaire around Russia and recall that the initiative and its catalogue of projects were also presented to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that Russia was open to the implementation of some of those projects if the member-countries agreed.

Other countries have also shown interest in participating in the initiative, both those from Croatia’s southeastern neighbourhood as well as those from the Eastern Partnership, the sources said.

“The possibility of membership in the Initiative remains open only to countries of the European Union considering the single legislative system and easier accomplishment of goals, however, the Initiative is open to partnership with interested neighbouring countries,” the sources at the president’s office said.

A letter of intent for the establishment of a common fund of the Initiative is expected to be signed in Bucharest, and a list of 40 specific projects – of which Croatia has proposed 11 – in the field of energy, transport and telecommunications, is to be confirmed. While most of the projects meet conditions for EU financing, some do not and the purpose of the common fund is to secure for them the part of funding that cannot be provided by the EU, the sources at the president’s office said.

An agreement on cooperation between the member-states’ chambers of commerce is expected to be signed at the summit.

Croatia is expected to present 11 projects in the three main areas on which the Three Seas Initiative is based – three in the field of energy, seven in the field of transport, and one in the field of digitalisation. The list of projects was made by the Office of the President in cooperation with the government, sources at Grabar-Kitarović’s office said. The total value of the projects is 1.78 billion euro.

The most important projects in the field of energy are the LNG terminal on the island of Krk with a transport pipeline (230 million euro + 35 million) and the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (600 million euro), while in the field of transport the most important projects are the Port of Rijeka (384.4 million euro) and the construction of a second rail track and renovation and upgrading of the railway along the Škrljevo-Rijeka-Jurdani section (305 million kuna).

In the area of digital communication, Croatia has proposed a national programme for the development of broadband aggregation infrastructure in regions where there is insufficient commercial interest in investments (101.4 million euro).

Apart from the summit, Bucharest will also host a business forum with some 600 participants, mostly from the host country. Croatia will be represented by officials of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and representatives of several companies.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is expected to address a presidential panel discussion on Monday while on Tuesday she will speak at the summit’s plenary session.


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