Infrastructure, investment, & Central Europe: The Three Seas Initiative
Kersti Kaljulaid, during his working visit to the USA, notes the importance of the development of Central and Eastern Europe
The Three Seas Initiative is a political and economic platform for 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe aimed at developing regional projects in the field of infrastructure, energy and digital interaction.
The initiative includes more than 50 different projects – from the construction of railways and highways to infrastructure projects in the energy sector, in particular, to reduce energy and economic dependence on Russia.
In the energy sector, the Three Seas Initiative, inter alia, provides for the development of liquefied natural gas supplies in the region, the construction of the Baltic Pipe, which could supply Norwegian natural gas to Poland through Denmark, as well as the connection of the region with the gas resources of Romania. Other projects include connecting some countries of the region to the Trans-Adriatic pipeline, through which Azerbaijani gas will go to Turkey, and from there – through Greece to Italy..
An investment fund was also established to develop the Three Seas Initiative, which was established in 2016. To date, only three countries – Poland, Romania and Estonia – have contributed to the initiative’s fund. The United States also decided to provide diplomatic and financial support to the project, promising to invest up to $ 1 billion in the fund..
This was announced in February this year during the Munich conference by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stressing that the United States intends to finance projects to increase the energy independence of the countries participating in the Three Seas Initiative. At the moment, it is not known in which projects exactly American funds will be invested, but the very principle of the fund’s operation is based on a commercial basis, assuming an investment of funds with subsequent economic return..
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who is hosting the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum in Tallinn in June this year, noted that compared to Western European countries, the Central European region is experiencing greater economic growth – almost 3 percent per year – however, until now, these countries have not aroused the proper interest of investors.
“This is the most dynamic part of Europe,” Kaljulaid said on Wednesday, March 4, during a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington during the Estonian President’s working visit to the United States..
The potential of the region has not yet been fully unleashed, in particular due to the lack of coordination and joint work on the development of the region among its leaders, the president added, and the Three Seas Initiative allows the participating countries to position themselves as a “common market”, which improves opportunities member countries to attract investment to the region.
To implement the goals of the forum and the implementation of its projects, about $ 500 billion of private capital will be required, Kaljulaid said, noting that political and financial support for the initiative of Central and Eastern European countries from the United States is extremely important..
“The United States has always been a very important ally for these countries,” said the Estonian President, adding that in order to further develop the initiative, the participating countries themselves must invest more funds..
Despite the fact that one of the goals of the fund is to reduce the economic and energy dependence of the region’s countries on Moscow, the President of Estonia emphasized that the Three Seas Initiatives fund will act independently and decisions on investing in a particular project will be made on commercial and not on political grounds.
“Our political priorities end” on connecting the infrastructure of the region in a logical way and using digital solutions, Kaljulaid noted, stressing that “the fund is managed on the principle of competition between projects”. If investors from Russia or China, whose growing influence in the region causes concern among many politicians and experts, want to participate in the Three Seas Initiative, then their investment applications will be considered, however, they must be based on transparency and following all conditions equal competition of the fund, said the President of Estonia.
“But on these terms, they are usually not particularly interested (to participate in projects”), Kaljulaid added..
“The Three Seas Initiative is an opportunity to develop Eastern and Central Europe much faster than it is developing now. Many countries in the region are well connected with the West, but less between themselves and the North-South corridor will have a lot of development, ”the Estonian President also said earlier in an interview with the Georgian service of the Voice of America..
One of the goals of the Three Seas Initiative is to create a north-south energy and infrastructure corridor in Central and Eastern Europe to counterbalance the infrastructure that has flowed from east to west since Soviet times..
Voice of America journalist. Prior to that, she worked for international non-governmental organizations in Washington and London, in the Russian-language version of the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” and as a spokesman for the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Interests – international relations, politics, economics