„Adriatic – Baltic – Black Sea. Visions of cooperation” – report from the discussion in Zagreb

The debate „Adriatic – Baltic – Black Sea. Visions of cooperation”, organised by the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies and iDEMO – Institute for Democracy, was held at the Croatian Chamber of Economy. The presentation of the publication and discussion devoted to the Three Seas Initiative was opened by Grzegorz Gawin, Chargé d’affaires a.i., Embassy of the Republic of Poland to Croatia who underlined that the initiative that was introduced by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Andrzej Duda is mainly an economic project and it is a long term concept. He briefly reminded that the idea of Trimarium was first presented by Jozef Pilsudski, a Polish statement and a visionary politician. Anna Kurowska, Coordinator for the Balkans, Institute for Eastern Studies, Poland pointed out the fact that the very essence of the project is to develop the infrastructural cooperation in the region. However, Trimarium may evolve in a number of different directions. It is important to discuss the challenges it faces and to promote public debate on the future shape of the Initiative.

The panel was moderated by Simona Goldstein, Director, iDEMO Institute for Democracy, Croatia.

The first speaker, Przemyslaw Zurawski Vel Grajewski, Adviser to the Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Poland opened his remarks by stating the in the past Trimarium was mainly a security project. Nowadays, it has been modified and is primarily economic and infrastructural concept. The countries of the region have many similar historic experiences. Therefore, transportation is such an important element of the Three Seas Initiative. Zurawski Vel Grajewski stressed the political necessity to remain modest. The Initiative should concentrate on EU countries, at the same time we don’t want to create a perception that it is against European Integration. Quite the opposite. Its main aim is to strengthen cooperation between European countries and EU member states.

Andreana Baeva Motusic, Board Member, iDEMO Institute for Democracy, Croatia the co-author of „Adriatic–Baltic–Black Sea. Visions of cooperation” said that when the Three Seas Initiative was first introduced it had been discussed with experts, politicians and scholars. She also underlined the importance of advancements in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. These are elements of labour market competitiveness and an area where the countries of the Three Seas Initiative need to work on in a coherent manner. She also stressed that the countries which control the infrastructures and tools needed to transmit information will get richer and richer. Again, another reason to cooperate. The CEE region is often criticized for not having a global view and perspective. This is something that needs to improve on regional level as well.

The next speaker, Dimitri Teperik, Chief Executive, International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS), Estonia touched upon the security dimension of Trimarium. Hybrid risks threaten various aspects of societies and military security. Common awareness of those threats and of interdependence is important to react in a more coordinated way. This brings us to national security and national resilience. It is based, among other things, on economic strength. The Three Seas Initiative can also support the process of cooperation and integration of the EU countries in this area. Infrastructural projects can strengthen resilience of the whole region and its security dimension. It is yet another reason to support further development of the Initiative, even though it is not the primary aim of the concept.

Domagoj Milošević, MP, Croatian Parliament started his remarks with general comments on external and internal threats to EU security. Economic and social development and demographics are important elements of security, next to threats like terrorism and energy security. Migration is going to remain a major challenge, and that includes internal migration within the EU. Those who criticise the Initiative can’t ignore the statistics and demography. The Three Seas Initiative is a great opportunity to facilitate the infrastructure of the region. Milošević said he was a guest of the Economic Forum in Krynica this year and he had a reflection that it should be much easier to move around the region. Investment is badly needed not only in transport routes but also energy and digitisation. Our geographical position brings unique opportunities, therefore we need to build the infrastructure and use it for economic and social development.