The Three Seas Initiative – One Year after the Riga Summit: Full Steam Ahead?
We are witnessing an increased political concreteness of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) as the September 2023 Summit in Bucharest is approaching. First of all, we should look at the goals of this Initiative. As mentioned in several other papers, this is first and foremost a regional Initiative established based on a shared sense of identity, interdependence and cooperation. Romania joined the platform without reservations from its beginning, organising in Bucharest in 2018 the third summit of this Initiative.
In 2022, Romania announced that it would host again this event. This was meant to bring closer to the Black Sea the decision-centre of the 3SI, adapting it to the new realities of the security environment. It was also the year when the Initiative focused more on Ukraine and the possible common interconnectivity project, while Romania raised the question of expanding the membership to the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
Besides the current Rail2Sea and Via Carpathia projects, an agreement between Transgaz and the 3SI Investment Fund was also signed, aimed at developing Romania’s natural gas infrastructure and connectivity, by integrating hydrogen transport as well, with a total estimated value of 626 million EUR.
In view of the 2023 summit, Romania intends to reconfirm the Initiative as a mature political platform, which generates investment and strategic interconnection on the North-South axis and connectivity with the partners of the 3SI.
In an official response, the Romanian minister of Foreign Affairs clearly states that Romania would focus on bringing Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia closer to the Initiative. Moreover, it continues supporting the invitation of Germany to join the 3SI, while also taking into consideration the intentions of Greece and North Macedonia of becoming members.
Having in mind that economy is a dominant sector for the 3SI cooperation, Romania intends to attract financial institutions in providing support to the 3SI Investment Fund, while also exploring the possibility to have a complementary Innovation Fund attached to it, based on purpose-driven innovation principle. Additionally, the digital infrastructure and cybersecurity remain priorities on the agenda.
Romania also envisages the full reactivation of the Three Seas Initiative Commerce Chambers created during the 2018 Bucharest Summit as a support framework for the Business Forum, by organising a new meeting of the format on 7 September 2023.
As of August 2023, on the official website of the Three Seas Initiative, the objectives of the Bucharest Summit are mentioned distinctly with a renewed focus on the geopolitical perspective such as the need of defining the relationship with a geopolitically reconfigured neighbourhood and the need to advance the process of 3SI enlargement with the countries that manifested interest for the Initiative’s activities and meet the criteria (it is expected that the Hellenic Republic will join the Initiative, thus becoming the 13th participating state of the Initiative; Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova will be granted the new status of “associated participating states” to the 3SI).
Prior to the 3SI Bucharest Summit, among the many issues that may still look fluid, a dominant feeling is that the Initiative is going from its infancy phase to that of a full maturity and the prospects look better than ever.
This material was initially published in the collective Working Paper, No. 46, titled “Anticipating the 2023 Three Seas Initiative Bucharest Summit. Advancing the common agenda” from April 2023.
This micro-study gathers contributions from 14 researchers, think tankers, consultants and former public officials from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia. Additionally, the report includes the views of 5 experts from Three Seas Initiative (3SI) partner countries and potential future member states: Georgia, Greece, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The authors assessed their country’s contribution to the enhancement of the cooperation within the 3SI, while considering the potential impact of the envisioned expansion, and the Initiative’s complementarity with the European Union membership.
The collective report also includes 4 analyses signed by Romanian experts presenting their views on the national commitment to the advancement of the Three Seas Initiative, the Romanian-backed projects, as well as the goals set for the 2023 Bucharest Summit.
The full text of the Working Paper, available in English, can be accessed here.
The opinions presented belong to the author and do not represent the official position of any affiliated institution, or the position of the European Institute of Romania.
Photo source: Gül Işık (pexels.com).