Three Seas Initiative to Reduce Differences Between Old and New Europe

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 18, 2018 – Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Bucharest on Monday the Three Seas Initiative could contribute to the important goal of reducing the differences in the development of the countries of the old and the new Europe, presenting at a business forum the Croatian projects which could contribute to that goal.

“The Three Seas Initiative wishes to contribute to the economic development of central Europe in order to erase the differences between the so-called European east and west, between the so-called old and new Europe, which specifically means better living standards for our citizens,” Grabar-Kitarović told reporters, reiterating what she said earlier at the business forum, held as part of the Three Seas Initiative summit for the first time.

The forum was also addressed by presidents Klaus Iohannis of Romania, Andrzej Duda of Poland and Alexander Van der Bellen of Austria, and by European Regional Development Commissioner Corina Cretu.

The Initiative aims to make central Europe the backbone of the stability of the whole European Union, Grabar-Kitarović said, presenting 11 key Croatian projects agreed as part of 40 projects of the countries participating in the Initiative. Three Croatian projects concern the energy infrastructure, seven concern transport and one concerns digitalisation, she said, adding that the key energy project was an LNG terminal.

She underlined the importance of bringing broadband Internet to commercially uninteresting areas, and said the seven transport infrastructure projects were about connecting railways and ports, highlighting the importance of the Rijeka seaport and the Danube river and its Vukovar port.

President Grabar-Kitarović also underlined that Croatia strongly supported Via Carpathia, confirming Croatia’s plan to join the initiative.

Croatia agrees that the entire Via Carpathia corridor should be included in the core Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and proposes an Adriatic section to run to Rijeka. In the long-term development of Via Carpathia, Croatia proposes a second extension of the Adriatic section, from Debrecen to Ploče, said Grabar-Kitarović.

President Iohannis, too, said that the Three Seas Initiative had its origin in development differences between the old and new EU members, and was designed to help overcome those differences. He added that the right way to do it was greater connectivity in the areas of energy, transport and digitalisation.

Both Iohannis and Duda underlined the importance of the USA’s strong support to the Initiative. Duda said that he was glad about the USA’s treating the Initiative as a vehicle for cooperation with Central Europe. Duda is expected to travel to Washington on Tuesday and discuss the Three Seas Initiative there.

President Grabar-Kitarović called on companies from the Initiative countries and their partners to work, at today’s business forum and at a summit to be held on Tuesday, on establishing business ties as well as to gather around projects that offer great opportunities for the development of the economies of the Three Seas Initiative and the entire Europe.

She said that a forum on digitalisation within the Three Seas Initiative would be held in Zagreb in October.

After the opening of the Bucharest business forum, a joint declaration on the establishment of a network of chambers of commerce of the Three Seas Initiative countries and a letter of intent for the establishment of a common fund were signed.

On Tuesday, Grabar-Kitarović will take part in the summit of the Initiative which brings together 12 countries, and the event will also be attended by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country has expressed an interest in joining the Initiative, and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

Grabar-Kitarović said that the attendance of the German representative was proof that the Initiative was growing and that it enjoyed the support of not only the USA and China, but the EU as well.

The Three Seas Initiative is an informal Croatian-Polish political platform first mentioned in 2015 and designed to improve connectivity between the countries of the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. The platform was 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. The summit in Bucharest focuses on the implementation of specific projects.


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