Adriatic – Baltic – Black Sea. Visions of Cooperation – the debate in Riga

During a discussion on the “Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea. Visions of cooperation” on Monday, Ewa Dębska, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Latvia said that the Three Seas Initiative has great potential, but the biggest obstacle to implementation of this project is the lack of infrastructure connections between the countries of the region. The meeting in Riga was organised by the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies.

The Three Seas Initiative is a concept that promotes closer economic cooperation between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The project – understood today as strenghtening of infrastructural cooperation in the region – may develop on many levels.

The meeting in Riga was opened by Ewa Dębska, Polish Ambassador in the Latvian Republic who welcomed the guests on behalf of the Polish Embassy in Riga, which was one of the co-organisers of the event. She noted that the Three Seas initiative has a huge potential but the main obstacle to it is a lack of infrastructural connections between the countries of this region. She emphasised that it is not directed against against the EU or anyone else. The initiative is focused on economic collaboration to maximise the potential of the region.

Kinga Redłowska, Programme Director of the Institute of Eastern Studies in Poland, introduced the Adriatic – Baltic  Black Sea: Visions of Cooperation project and emphasised that currently, the primary fields of cooperation among the Three Seas Initiative members are transport, energy and digitisation. She reminded that declarations in these areas were adopted at the Initiative’s first summit in Dubrovnik on 25-26 August 2016. This year’s summit in Warsaw was attended by US President Donald Trump, whose presence ensured greater international recognition for the project.

Przemysław Żurawski Vel Grajewski, Adviser to the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the Three Seas initiative is not about security but about the economic cooperation within the common European market. He gave some examples of the potential of this region’s markets. The Three Seas initiative is based on the infrastructural cooperation in the fields such as: energy security, digital market and transport infrastructure (like Via Carpathia, Via Baltica). The initiative is not directed against anybody and it is limited only to the EU states, that is why Ukraine does not enter. It is very important not to merge different cooperation initiatives and not to create an impression that it is a block constructed against someone.

Gheorghe Magheru, Adviser to the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the role of cooperation between think tanks from Poland, Romania and Croatia. Resilience is a very important term. What remains a crucial aspect for Romania is the cooperation with its EU neighbours. We have to detach ourselves from the concept of the core and periphery areas of the EU. We have also to talk more about the future and not about the past.

Ilgvars Kļava, Ambassador-Director General of the Bilateral Relations Directoriate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia said that the Three Seas cooperation seems very attractive and that for Latvia developing infrastructure is the most important aspect of this initiative. It is crucial for all three Baltic states. He noted that Latvia already has well developed East-West infrastructure and added that “now we are coming to conclusion that we should provide new elements to what we already have, like railway lines”. He emphasised that Latvia has to get rid of the misperception that this initiative is built against somebody.

The discussion was moderated by Andris Sprūds, Director of the Latvian Institute of Foreign Affairs that was also a partner of the presentation in Riga.