Bulgaria has been hosting a meeting of the leaders of the Three Seas Initiative. Such a large-scale forum has been held for the first time in this country since the rotational EU presidency and the meeting of the European Council in Sofia back in 2018. Leaders of the countries of Eastern Europe with access to the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea are now in the Bulgarian capital city. The political initiative aimed at deepening the connection between these countries has its prototype in the frame of the Polish Intermarium, which emerged after World War I. The idea was revived during a meeting of the presidents of the participating countries in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik back in 2016. In 2020, at a summit in Tallinn, Bulgaria took over the coordination role in the Three Seas Initiative from Estonia.
"The summit in Sofia is the sixth in a row for the initiative, which has proven to be a platform for dialogue, for cooperation in the interest of economic development through energy, transport and digital connectivity. We often have discussions with our colleagues and we understand well that the necessary funds for achieving it exceed what we have at the moment," Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said in his speech before the international forum.
He added that Bulgaria was aware of its potential to receive support for the development of its friendly relations with the other countries and for applying new innovative models for business and smart development. We have all been moving in this direction, President Radev said.
US President Joe Biden has declared his full support for the Three Seas initiative. The region of Central and Eastern Europe has great potential for development, he said in a video address to the participants in the summit.
"The United States will be your unfailing partner in every step. We share your commitment to continue to improve your integration and regional interconnection," President Biden said. He pointed out the need for democracies to prove that they could work for their peoples by investing in infrastructure in a transparent way and by eradicating corruption.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also highlighted his country's support for the initiative:
"We must make full use of the potential of this initiative, but it must be part of European policies and instruments,” he said.
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva has made an optimistic forecast for the development of the countries in the region:
"When it comes to an economic forecast, light in the tunnel is finally visible. This is due to the courage of the drivers of policies in the region. The light is brighter for the countries participating in the Three Seas Initiative than for their western neighbors. This is because we expect that in 2021 the region will reach the GDP level of 2019. GDP growth would be 3.8%, which is twice as high in comparison to other 15 EU Member States. The reason is that the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 is now better managed. This is good news because it means that the process of convergence would continue."
Georgieva also pointed out the key role of the initiative for infrastructure and connectivity in the whole region. "We have calculated that each euro spent on infrastructure brings 1.7 to 2.5 euros," she added.