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How does the Three Seas Initiative connect the Central and Eastern European region?

On 22 April 2024, the Equilibrium Institute hosted an online discussion with Ian Brzezinski, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy on "How the Three Seas Initiative connects the Central and Eastern European region".

Ian Brzezinski, currently a member of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Advisory Group, was asked about the Three Seas Initiative by Réka Szemerkényi, our Senior Advisor for Foreign and Security Policy, former Ambassador of Hungary to Washington.

The foreign policy and military expert highlighted the following points about the Three Seas Initiative (3SI):

  • Although the Central and Eastern European region has seen many examples of successful framework cooperation agreements of varying degrees of success over the past decades, this one stands out. The potential of the 3SI lies in its ability to enable long-term economic, energy security, infrastructure and even military mobility developments as a region’s own initiative, by effectively exploiting local geo-economic potential.
  • Regional cooperation is a difficult genre, as it requires regional rather than national thinking, often through investments that do not directly pay off. A financial contribution from one member country can trigger an investment in another country, which then benefits the whole region, so that the investing country also benefits economically. Despite this, many of the countries participating in the Initiative have not yet made a financial contribution to the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund.
  • The Investment Fund operates free from political influence and seeks to mobilise private capital on a free market basis. The geo-economic position of the Central and Eastern European region, with a total GDP of more than USD 2 trillion, high FDI rates of return and the region’s future growth potential, makes it attractive to private capital.
  • This year’s US presidential election is seen by many as a decisive factor for the future of 3SI, but the Initiative’s support in the US has been there since the Obama presidency, regardless of party affiliation. Rather, the most important factor influencing the continuation of support will be the performance of 3SI in the near future. If the Initiative can continue to grow, using the capital it receives for cross-border infrastructure development, continued support can be guaranteed.

In his answers to questions from the audience, Brzezinski also discussed the geopolitical challenges facing the Central and Eastern European region, the Russian-Ukrainian war, the Asian conflicts and the impact of the Indo-Pacific region on Europe. He stressed that although Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden have all attributed greater strategic importance to Asia, Euro-Atlantic cooperation is a lasting, mutually beneficial alliance. Consequently, East-Central Europe need not fear being left alone.