Duda calls Three Seas Initiative 'strategic response' to challenges

Andrzej Lange/PAP

The Three Seas Initiative, an infrastructure and energy cooperation scheme that associates 12 central and eastern European countries, "is our region's strategic response to current challenges," Polish President Andrzej Duda has said.

Duda made his address at a business forum that was part of a two-day Three Seas summit that started in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Thursday.

"I have no doubt that the Three Seas Initiative is our region's strategic response to current challenges, particularly after the pandemic," Duda said. "At the same time, it strengthens the EU's cohesion and enriches trans-Atlantic relations."

Duda expressed hope that the region would quickly emerge from the coronavirus crisis, quoting World Bank and International Monetary Fund forecasts showing that GDP growth in Central Europe would range from 4.1 to 4.8 percent in 2022.

Duda added that the region can expect a range of ambitious energy, transport and digital infrastructure projects over the coming years.

In an online speech, US President Joe Biden said the US was a strong supporter of the Initiative, stressing the project's potential for increasing the security of the region.

Biden said investments in strong economies and high-quality infrastructure could help the region beat the Covid-19 pandemic.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Three Seas Initiative should be linked to major EU projects, such as the Green Deal and the Recovery Plan for Europe.

The Three Seas Initiative was established in 2015 by the Polish and Croatian presidents in order to promote cross-country energy and infrastructure links. The project now groups 12 member countries located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas, namely Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.