Interconnectivity - primary objective for the Three Seas Initiative

George Marinescu
English Section / 12 aprilie

Interconnectivity - primary objective for the Three Seas Initiative

Versiunea în limba română

Increasing the interconnectivity of transport infrastructure, digital interconnectivity, cyber security and energy interconnectivity, including the two new associated states - the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - was the central theme of the ninth summit of the Three Seas Initiative (I3M), event that took place yesterday in Vilnius in Lithuania, a theme that can also be found in the joint declaration adopted at the end by the representatives of the 13 member states.

Regarding the above aspects, at the end of the summit President Klaus Iohannis said: "The important themes of this Three Seas Initiative were thought to improve the connecting infrastructure on the North-South axis in our part of Europe, the connecting infrastructure meaning road, rail, but also gas, electricity, digital connectivity and so on. It is about connecting the entire Eastern Flank both on road and rail infrastructure. There are two projects that connect the Black Sea to the Baltic and these two projects are of particular importance to us".

The text of the declaration adopted yesterday reads: "We recognize the efforts of the Republic of Moldova to resist the growing threats and denounce the systematic hybrid pressures that the Republic of Moldova is facing in the context of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, including attempts to undermine the constitutional order. We remain committed to facilitating their infrastructural integration in the I3M region and the trans-European transport, energy and digital networks and to developing new, resilient and sustainable energy, transport and digital links for enhanced regional connectivity. (...) In the context of Russia's unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war against Ukraine, we emphasize the urgency and strategic importance of accelerating I3M's efforts in building resilient infrastructure and improving connectivity, especially on the north-south axis, to contribute to a more greater convergence in the EU, redirecting transport routes and supply chains and strengthening the overall security and prosperity of the I3M. (...) We reaffirm our commitment to strengthening the resilience and cyber security of the region, in particular by improving cooperation in the field of critical infrastructure security. (...) We encourage the interested parties from the I3M member states to support Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova in prioritizing the cyber security needs of the two partner states and in solving them".

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, I3M leaders reaffirm their support for the authorities in Kiev and show that the regional organization can play an important role in the recovery and reconstruction of that country at the end of the current war started by the Russian Federation. To this end, the participants of the summit specified that in the I3M region the strengthening of transport infrastructure and logistics is essential for the planning and execution of the proper reconstruction process in Ukraine.

Members of the Three Seas Initiative also referred to strengthening the resilience of dual-use infrastructure in the region for increased civilian and military mobility along the north-south axis, in line with the EU Military Mobility Action Plan 2.0, infrastructure on which considers it a political objective and a necessary investment for strengthening NATO's eastern flank.

The President of Poland: "I proposed that in the I3M region the defense contribution for each member state should increase from 2% to 3% of GDP"

At the end of the summit, during the press conference, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said: "We are the fastest growing region globally, with the estimated growth of accumulated GDP up to 2030 reaching 35%. An example of the attractiveness of foreign investors to the Three Seas Initiative region is our vast human resources: 130 million people, i.e. 30% of the EU population. Our workforce is skilled, efficient and eager to innovate. In our region, cross-border infrastructure projects offer a double benefit - an undeniable economic one and a contribution to building national resilience. (...) Effective deterrence requires an adequate transport infrastructure to allow the rapid redeployment of allied forces. The energy sector must rely entirely on domestic energy production. Digital infrastructure will increase the level of cyber security. The Three Seas Initiative focuses on these goals, as well as financial incentives and tools to attract private capital for infrastructure investment."

For his part, the president of Poland, Andrzey Duda said: "The member states of I3M cooperate well, efficiently, and an example of this is the started infrastructure projects - Via Carpathia and Rail2Sea. We have huge investments for years to come such as natural gas interconnectors and transportation infrastructure projects needed for rapid civilian and military mobility on NATO's eastern flank to support our partners. That is why we have increased the number of highways and railways in the region and we have a strong cooperation in the digital field. Moreover, I proposed today at the summit that in the I3M region the contribution to defense for each member state should increase from 2% to 3% of GDP. It was a first discussion, a decision in this regard will be taken soon".

The support given to Ukraine on the agenda of the meeting between Iohannis and Zelensky

Participating in the press conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted the support that each leader of the 13 I3M member states has confirmed for Ukraine and noted: "We urgently need air defense systems for Kharkiv, Odesa, Lvov and other Ukrainian cities . Every I3M leader has assured me that Ukraine will finally receive the necessary air defense equipment. (...) It is important that each side fulfills its promises regarding the supply of ammunition and weapons. Our forces are under daily pressure from Russian forces and we must not waste a single minute regarding the supply of military equipment and ammunition."

Military support to Ukraine was also on the topic of the talks that President Klaus Iohannis had with President Zelensky ahead of the I3M summit in Vilnius. "Bucharest will provide strong support to Kyiv in all areas, including the security sector," Klaus Iohannis said yesterday after the meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart.

Later, President Iohannis posted the following message on the X social network: "On the sidelines of the summit, I met with Ukrainian President Zelensky on Thursday. We reaffirmed our strong support for Ukraine in all areas, as well as our determination to strengthen regional connectivity, sustainable cross-border cooperation and energy security."

In addition to the I3M Summit in Vilnius, the I3M Business Forum was also held, the main themes of which this year were interconnectivity, infrastructure development, reconstruction and economic recovery of Ukraine. The I3M Economic Forum brought together more than a thousand participants from more than 30 countries, who also discussed renewable energy trends and net zero industries, smart transport, cyber security and innovative digital technologies.

Romania, Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary are part of the Three Seas Initiative, which covers the continental European space between the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova have the status of associated countries, a status that Montenegro also hopes to obtain soon. I3M's strategic partners are the USA, Germany, the European Commission and Japan.

Next year's summit will be hosted by Poland, and in 2026 I3M leaders will meet in Croatia.

Klaus Iohannis, steps to support the candidacy for the headship of NATO

President Klaus Iohannis stated, yesterday, that he discussed, on the sidelines of the Three Seas Summit, issues related to NATO and his candidacy for the position of Secretary General.

Klaus Iohannis stated: "We also discussed issues related to NATO and my candidacy. But I want to clarify one thing here: NATO will never be voted on. The appointment of the Secretary General is done by consensus, and consensus is achieved through diplomatic negotiations, talks between leaders and so on. So, there is not much point in looking at how many they said, what they said, because until unanimity is achieved, absolutely nothing will be decided and, until then, there is still a long way to go".

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