Top officials from the US, Germany and EU participate
WASHINGTON, DC – July 1, 2020 – Yesterday, Estonia hosted the first foreign ministers meeting of the Three Seas Initiative. The video-teleconference convened 3SI Foreign Ministers and US Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid, and Germany’s Foreign Office State Secretary Miguel Berger. The Three Seas Initiative is a Central and European effort to accelerate the development of cross-border energy, transportation and digital infrastructure in the region between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas.
The meeting, led by Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, addressed how to deepen the roles and engagement of Three Seas Governments in an initiative that to date has been largely led by the presidents of this region. The officials also discussed how the business environment within the region can be made more conducive to international infrastructure investment, the US proposed Blue Dot Network of international infrastructure development principles, and the current status and direction of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, among other issues.
In the press conference that followed, Minister Reinsalu noted an IMF study now underway on Central and Eastern Europe whose preliminary findings conclude that the Three Seas region is burdened by $1.3T euro infrastructure deficit. Ministers noted that Three Seas Fund now includes investments from the governments of Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary. Several ministers called upon all Three Seas member states to invest in the Fund, and emphasized the objective of attracting investment from both international financial institutions and the private sector.
Minister Reinsalu, Romainia’s Foreign Minister and others emphasized that the Three Seas Initiative is intended to complete the vision of a single European market, a point later underscored by US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun in press release stating “that a secure prosperous and resilient Three Seas region is key to not only binding the countries of Central and Eastern Europe more closely with the rest of Europe but also to the United Sates.”
The US press release went to state that “The United States, through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, has committed to investing up to $1 billion toward Three Seas Initiative energy projects, and welcomes the investments to the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund announced by Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Looking forward to the October 2020 Tallin Summit, we encourage all Three Seas member states to invest in the fund, to endorse the Blue Dot Network principles, and to launch projects that will make this initiative an innovative platform and vehicle for positive change.”
The Estonian and Romanian Foreign Ministers stated that the Three Seas Initiative have been given added urgency by the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. Infrastructure development can be generator of jobs and driver of economic growth, and the Three Seas initiative can do both and should be part of a transatlantic economic recovery initiative.
“The Three Seas Initiative is becoming operationalized. It is steadily moving from rhetoric to action,” said Ian Brzezinski, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “Yesterday’s meeting underscored several important facts. Three Seas governments are increasingly not only engaged in the initiative but are also investing in it through the fund. The 3SI fund is now operating and intends to invest in its first investment projects by this fall. And the United State remains robustly committed to this effort, both diplomatically and financially. This portends for a successful Three Seas Summit and Business Forum this October.”
On October 19-20, President Kaljulaid of Estonia will host the next Three Seas Summit and Business Forum in Tallinn.