The information chaos that is surrounding the US President’s visit to the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Poland produced so many half-truths damaging to the initiative, that I decided to get the facts straight – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief of BiznesAlert.pl
Journalists of both state-owned and private news media do not see the difference between Piłsudski’s Intermarium idea and the Three Seas Initiative proposed by President Andrzej Duda. The first one was a geopolitical endeavor, an idea to build an anti-Russian federation, which has never been fulfilled because of the aversion shared by Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to the Second Polish Republic. The latter is a business initiative not aimed against anyone.
When answering my question about the differences between the two concepts, Bartosz Wiśniewski from the Polish Institute of International Affairs, clearly laid them out.
“This is not an initiative, which would aim at harmonizing foreign policies. In this case we are strictly talking about the infrastructure that could facilitate the common market. This promotes security, which is aided by the market,” he pointed out. He also added that the construction of links on the North-South axis was important.
The objective of Three Seas Initiative is to remove the infrastructural deficiencies in Central and Eastern Europe. PwC assessed that the region needed USD 615 billion to implement new strategic projects, including North-South Corridor gas pipelines, Rail Baltica and Via Carpatia. The allies can fight for EU funds together to achieve these goals.
This is yet another proof that debunks the claim that the initiative is against the EU. It is for the EU states and its goal is to support the European Commission, which wants to implement the above projects. A geopolitical endeavor would not unite in one group Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, whose foreign policy, to put it in very general terms, is pro-Russian.
The Initiative’s objectives may be supported by the United States and Donald Trump who will be speaking in Warsaw, where he might express his political support and send a positive signal to US business. There are reasons why the Polish Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, stated that next year a Polish-US business summit might take place. That is when major decisions might be made.
Because the Three Seas Initiative cannot be bigger than its limitations, we should not expect breakthrough contracts after the summit in Warsaw. Bartosz Wiśniewski reminded that Donald Trump’s delegation did not include business representatives. Within the Initiative itself we can count on contracts, such as agreements between operators and infrastructural companies from Poland all the way to Croatia. They will facilitate the further networking of the CEE region. There will not be any political statements though, e.g. on Russia, unless the Polish diplomacy manages to achieve this almost-impossible goal.
However, because the US President is so unpredictable one should take into account that he might criticize Poland’s internal policies when it comes to the judiciary, or that he will repeat his criticism of Russia. Trump may support the LNG deliveries from the US to Poland and other states in the region because it’s a business deal, which will grease the wheels of the US economy in line with his platform America First. Or he may criticize the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Another claim that needs to be explained is the supposed unfair exclusion of Ukraine. This decision was made because of the same limitations that do not allow politics in the Initiative, the designers of the alliance avoided the Ukrainian problem like the plague. Poland is voicing its opposition to the Russian aggression on this country on other forums. The Three Seas Initiative is about infrastructural integration of EU states.
This makes the idea more realistic than the idealistic Intermarium. The reasonable people at the President’s Chancellery understand the project’s limitations and do not want to employ foreign sabers to charge at Moscow. They want the region to make money and maybe in a few decades this will translate into political cooperation.
The Three Seas Initiative will follow, among others, my recommendation to start regional integration with business deals. I wrote about this in the context of the Intermarium idea. It turns out that the re-invented Three Seas could facilitate this goal, not against the EU, but with the block’s support. The US President’s visit in Warsaw might help to achieve this with a good word and an incentive for US investors.