AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IN ACTION
How will this billion investment affect Eastern and Central European integration, energy security, relations with the United States and Kremlin, and potential foreign investment?
On February 15, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States’ commitment to the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) by pledging $1 billion in American tax payer money to improve, by updating, transportion, energy, and digital infrastructure in the 12 countries bordering the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas. The Kremlin had a vested interest in keeping this area, the western part of the former Soviet Empire, poor and backward to make it dependent on Moscow. By bringing state-of-the-art economic infrastructure to this area, 3SI will provide the economic and social components of security just as NATO ensures East Central Europe’s military and political freedom from increasingly aggressive Kremlin revanchism. Although this initiative is widely supported by the European Union, this announcement of United States financial support, which was made at the Munich Security Conference, is the first from a country that is not in the Three Seas region.
The Three Seas Initiative was launched in 2015 by Polish President Andrzej Duda and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to intergrate, on a north-to-south-axis, the twelve East Central European and Balkan countries bordering the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas. These countries, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, cooperate to stimulate economic development, create convergence among European Union (EU) states, and strengthen transatlantic ties, specifically with the United States. Through cooperation, the informal association will coordinate and fund the stimulation of regional development and macroregional projects in areas such as telecommunications, infrastructure, transportation, and energy independence. Their leaders believe that if they create stability and prosperity, it will later contribute to the overall stability and prosperity of the European Union. The 3SI East Central European countries plan to integrate their economies on a north-south axis to achieve the level of co-operation which prevails among the EU member countries in western and west central Europe.
The 3SI countries want to modernize their economic infrastructure for two reasons. First, they want to make their products more competitive. Second, the 3SI countries must achieve energy independence so they will cease to be dependent on Kremlin controlled natural gas. The participating countries were previously under Soviet Union control in a divided Europe, therefore infrastructure was underdeveloped, and to this day, dependent on the Kremlin’s supply of gas and oil. Western officials worry that over reliance on the Kremlin’s energy supply is dangerous for Europe as it can become a political weapon and countries may even be “hostage” to foreign suppliers. At the Munich Security Conference, Secretary Pompeo emphasized that the billion-dollar commitment aimed to “galvanize private sector investment in the energy sector to protect freedom and democracy around the world.”
President Donald Trump’s consistent support for 3SI is based on our shared interests and values which include: political freedom, free enterprise, and security through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). United States government investment in 3SI will catalyze support from other nations and the private sector. President Trump’s pro-Polish speech at the 2017 Three Seas Summit in Warsaw, Poland demonstrates his unwavering support to create a new diversified energy market with new energy sources, including American producers of liquified natural gas (LNG). The larger goal of Secretary Pompeo’s commitment is to encourage the private sector to invest in the Three Seas infrastructure projects so they may make a profit. Poland, Estonia, and Romania have launched the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund to allow foreign investors directly to engage with Eastern and Central European economies, projecting that investment will be the mechanism for growth. The purpose of United States funding is not about government involvement, but rather the demonstration of trust and confidence in the initiative to bring in investors from around the world. By bringing attention to these regional economies, the capital market and energy security will undermine the Kremlin’s efforts to diminish sovereignty and independence of East Central Europe and no longer feel as threatened by its tyrannical political, economic, and military influence. The greatest challenge will be to raise through private equity the funds to move 3SI from rhetoric to action. The POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS is working to achieve 3SI by: working for the enactment of Congressional Resolutions to muster public support, holding informational meetings for businesspeople in the renewable energy sector, and publicizing opportunities for investors. 3SI will make make Europe whole and free by preventing the re-colonization of East Central Europe. This important region must stand strong and independent. In the past, the pattern of trade that flowed from west-to-east and from east-to-west across the 3SI countries facilitated the domination of this region by outside powers; the integration of the economies of this region’s countries on a north-to-south axis will promote their sovereignty and make Europe and the world safer and more prosperous.
Kamila Magiera is a Communications Intern at the Polish American Congress and a freshman at the George Washington University. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a minor in International Affairs.