The Three Seas Initiative in Tallinn

The most important aspect of the Three Seas Initiative for Estonia is the cooperation in the area of digitisation and cybersecurity – said Robert Filipczak, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Estonia.

The Three Seas Initiative is a concept that promotes riveting the Economic cooperation between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The organiser of the panel “Adriatic – Baltic – Black Sea. Visions of Cooperation” discussing the Three Seas project, is Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies.

The meeting was opened by Robert Filipczak, Polish Ambassador to Estonia, who welcomed the participants, reminding that the main idea for establishing the Tree Seas initiative was to boost the economy and support the EU. Via Baltcia will be part of Via Carpathia forming an opportunity to increase international commerce. The most important aspect of the initiative for Estonia is digitisation and cyber security. In his opinion TSI can also be profitable for the old members of the EU.

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 at the moment, 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.

Przemysław Żurawski Vel Grajewski, Adviser to the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs,  stated that the main idea of the TSI is to boost infrastructure. It is important not to mix it with the historical idea of Intermarium. The TSI is, in fact, of three dimensions of cooperation. It is designed to strengthen the cooperation within the EU and that’s why non-member states are not invited to take part in it. The TSI area has a strong potential and a great attractiveness. The numbers confirm it. The first dimension of this cooperation is infrastructure and it is implemented through Via Carpathia, as well as Via Baltica. He emphasised that the initiative is about the economy and the main aim is to build some tangible infrastructure. It’s not about other areas, like security. It is about energy security and digital security but not about military security. It is not constructed against anyone and it does not exclude.

Andreana Baeva Motusic, President of the European Business Association in Croatia, described the beginnings of the TSI saying that when work started on the TSI they realised that to define the areas of cooperation they have to ask the involved countries to indicate the most crucial aspects for them. The main areas indicated by young CEE politicians were: refugee crisis, low cost of labour and brain drain, energy dependence on Russia (especially in the Baltic states) and youth unemployment. A US-led economic model for development since the 1990s was based on three main areas: infrastructure, education and ability to cooperate. Current advancements in technology bring about infrastructural change and require significant investments in the development of new products, the acquisition of market share, and the building of supporting infrastructure. She pointed out that Austria is a very interesting case as it was not initially included but it wanted to join the TSI voluntarily. The project is not meant to exclude anyone but to catch up with the rest of Europe.

Gheorghe Magheru, Adviser to the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs presented the Romanian point of view as Romania will be hosting the next TSI summit in autumn 2018. He reminded that there have been already three successful TSI summits. He pointed out that this initiative has caused some reflection among the government and civil society on the present trends in the EU and the role of this region. The TSI will help to reduce the distinction between the core and the peripheries of the EU in terms of economy.

Toomas Kukk, Director of Division for Northern and Central Europe and Regional Cooperation at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the TSI helps to put things in a wider perspective. The Estonians are working very hard now on connecting the Baltic states to the rest of Europe. The most urgent need is to move the energy security of Estonia and other Baltic states away from Russia and towards the EU. In terms of transport access from Estonia to other EU states, it is quite limited and it should be improved. He expressed his belief that the TSI will also bring in many business opportunities.