The Three Seas initiative of regional cooperation is getting a new, local and cross-border dimension, Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the Regions of the Three Seas Forum in Jasionka near the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszów on Tuesday.
President Duda expressed satisfaction with the “new and important stage in the development of the Three Seas Initiative.”
“By meeting at this Regions Forum, we’re opening a new chapter of the Initiative, we inaugurate its local and cross-border dimension. It is an important step in the implementation of a joint plan for the Three Seas. The Regions Forum meets the postulate of direct participation in the initiative of a wide range of people who are interested in its success,” the Polish head of state said.
Andrzej Duda recalled that the Three Seas Initiative was established in 2015 in order to strengthen three complementary aspects of regional cooperation: better infrastructural integration of Central Europe within a coherent and unified EU; tangible infrastructural, energy and business projects to be carried out by states located between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas; and moving from theoretical and political aspects of cooperation to the practical implementation of plans.
“First of all, we wanted this cooperation to be comprehensive, to be multi-layered, so that not only presidents, heads of state took part in it, but also governments and local governments,” Andrzej Duda said.
President Duda said that when he and his Croatian counterpart were establishing the Three Seas Initiative, they highlighted three gaps that had consequences for the regional policy, including European cohesion, regularity of regional cooperation and finally regional proactivity. “The Three Seas Initiative stems from the desire to fill all those three fundamental gaps,” Andrzej Duda said.
“The Three Seas is a proactive, and not only a purely theoretical concept,” President Duda argued.
The Polish head of state said he could still see the imbalance in the development of the Three Seas region and Western Europe and that the countries in the region were still catching up with their more developed peers.
Speaking of the EU’s cohesion policy that the EU applies to eliminate differences in the development of its regions, Duda said that the Three Seas group could advocate for better use of the EU cohesion funds and join forces in implementing cross-border investments under the policy.
The President said the region needed good connections between its capital cities as he stated his case for a more developed transport network. In this context he mentioned the Via Carpathia international road that is planned to run across the region along a north-south axis, linking Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.
“I am sure that the advantages of this investment have not only a purely economic significance, in terms of strengthening business and social relations. Its deeper meaning lies in adding flesh to the bones of Central European regional cooperation,” the President concluded.
Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Austria have agreed to join the Three Seas format, a Polish-Croatian concept of cooperation in the area of infrastructure, energy and economy