Last week, political leaders descended on Bucharest, Romania for the third Three Seas Initiative Summit. Launched in 2015, the Three Seas Initiative is an economic alliance of twelve EU member states between the Adriatic, Baltic, and Black seas. These countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia – are strategically located, especially when it comes to energy and security. At the summit, Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis announced that Germany would also become a partner state in the initiative.
At this year’s summit, heads of state and business leaders discussed cooperation in the fields of energy, transport, and digital technology. A portfolio of forty projects obtained political support from participants. The Three Seas Initiative has already undertaken two major infrastructure projects in the region, including a liquefied natural gas project with ocean terminals in Poland and Croatia and an associated pipeline. The initiative has also spearheaded a north-south highway known as “Via Carpathia.” Until now, all major motorways in the region face westward toward Germany. The route of the Via Carpathia, construction of which has already started in Poland, begins in Lithuania and goes straight down through the east of Poland, continuing through Hungary, Romania (a fork in the south continues eastwards through Romania to the Black Sea port town of Constanța) and Bulgaria and ends at the port of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
This year’s summit featured participants from a number of non-member states. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry was a special guest. At the event, Perry argued that Europe’s dependence on Russian gas has increased from thirty to forty percent in recent years, and urged the continent to diversify its energy sources. “There is great security in energy diversity,” he said, as reported by the Associated Press. “Energy security is tantamount to national security.” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also attended the summit, as did Shen Yueyue, a senior official in the Chinese National People’s Congress.
As international interest in post-communist Europe increases, its appears that energy and security are a driving force.