The GenFree: Three Seas Generation Freedom conference has freedom in its DNA
This international conference called “GenFree: Three Seas Generation Freedom”, held in Warsaw, brought together a number of outstanding politicians, diplomats and business representatives from twelve countries participating in the Three Seas Initiative. The event was also attended by numerous young people representing the titular “Generation Freedom.” They have the potential to become the greatest beneficiaries of a more profound integration of the region spanning the area between the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Seas.
“The GenFree: Three Seas Generation Freedom” conference, organised by the State of Poland Foundation, was opened by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Addressing the event participants, he stressed that the Three Seas Initiative was something more than just a declarative union of 12 states. Over 112 million people living in the region, with a total area of over a million square kilometres, constitute a vast potential, and the future development of this part of Europe depends on the exploitation of this potential.
“Generation Freedom” is made of people born after the fall of the communist regime. Nobody understands the nature of civil liberties and access to state-of-the-art technologies better than young people, since they were not given to them, but constitute natural environment in which they were growing up. I believe that this generation, using the Three Seas Initiative, will ensure security and prosperity to Europe in the decades to come,” said Mateusz Morawiecki.
The Three Seas Initiative is the greatest and the most ambitious geopolitical project in our part of the world. The collaboration currently includes 12 EU Member States situated in the area between the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Seas. These are: Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Austria. Except the last one, all the countries were behind the Iron Curtain before 1989.
“Following the system transformation, Poland and other states of the region have done significant work wishing to join the western security and economic cooperation system as soon as possible. Focusing on integration with the NATO and the EU, we moved regional relationships aside. Today we need to make up for the lost time, based on our joint historic and cultural heritage,” explained Paweł Jabłoński, Prime Minister's Representative for the Three Seas Initiative.
In political discourse, the Three Seas project usually occurs in the context of extending the infrastructure and cross-border connections between the countries in the region. The economic aspect of the Initiative is significant - the area covering a third of EU territory generates only 10% of its GDP. During the conference it was reminded that, in addition to flagship projects, such as the North-South Gas Corridor or Via Carpatia, over 70 other joint undertakings in the sphere of transport, digitisation and energy are being implemented.
However, experts stress that the way to the actual integration of the region can be achieved through fostering relationships between its residents. An average Pole knows more about the old EU Member States than about the countries which are part of the Three Seas Initiative.
“We want to build roads and bridges, not only in the infrastructural dimension, but also in the human dimension. This will allow us to improve our growth opportunities, to make up for disparities between the East and the West, and to show to the world the potential of the states participating in the Three Seas Initiative,” asserted Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka, President of the Management Board at Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego.
The Conference guests agree that the Three Seas Initiative needs a story which will be able to evoke positive emotions, consequently arousing residents’ and decision-makers’ interest.
“The Three Seas region is full of magical locations, unique natural resources, excellent cuisine, interesting cities and valuable immovable heritage. International education projects and the development of the tourist industry will build further relationships, contacts and friendships, which are the foundation of trust and collaboration,” said Włodzimierz Dola, President of the State of Poland Foundation.
Poland has a special role to play in the Three Seas Initiative, as it is the largest and the most populous participating country. Solomon Passy, former Foreign Affairs Minister in Bulgaria reasoned that tightening regional links will strengthen the country's position as one of the leaders of the entire European Union.
“When, many years back, I talked about Bulgaria's future NATO membership with British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, she replied ‘We will take it into consideration after Poland’s accession.’ Even today, Western Europe sees Warsaw as the ambassador of the entire Three Seas region. That is why it is Poland that should set the tone and pace of the Three Seas Initiative,” Solomon Passy noted.
The organiser of the conference, the State of Poland Foundation, prepared a report and a communication strategy for the Three Seas region based on the results of cross-sectional studies. It can be downloaded from the foundation's website: https://stateofpoland.pl/trojmorze-raport-i-strategia-komunikacji/