Prime minister opens Three Seas Initiative business forum
Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec gave the welcoming address at the Ljubljana Fairgrounds to the second Three Seas Initiative (3SI) business forum, which is being held alongside the two-day summit of the initiative. The forum, which will be attended by around 600 participants from more than 40 countries, was organised jointly by the Slovenian government, the Centre for European Perspective and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia.
The prime minister initially expressed his satisfaction that Slovenia as the host country could welcome such a large number of political leaders and representatives of the business world, institutions and the media. He stated that it was a great honour to open a forum that unites “12 European members of the initiative, which cover 28 percent of the territory of the European Union and 22 percent of its population, but on the other hand represent just 10 percent of its total gross domestic product. Therefore from the beginning the initiative has had three main objectives – promoting economic development, strengthening EU cohesion and strengthening transatlantic ties.
In my opinion, the key word in connection with the initiative is ‘connectivity’. Only by improving our connectivity, not just north and south, but also east and west, can we provide a better, more prosperous and more sustainable future for our coming generations.” He also mentioned the opportunity to strengthen transatlantic cooperation.
He sees cohesion as a second important aspect of development. “I firmly believe that increased digital, energy and transport connectivity in central and eastern Europe will benefit the EU as a whole. All three elements are crucial for economic development in the region and the promotion of prosperity, opportunities for employment and innovation.”
He also stated that “Slovenia will continue to support a strong, forward-looking and development-oriented EU. In order to ensure a shared future in a safe, stable and successful family of EU countries, we have to build up cooperation among our leaders, institutions, companies and civil society. The future of the EU is unity and cohesion.”
With regard to the success of the countries’ future development, the prime minister emphasised that this depends on how innovative their economies will be. In addition to discussions about further investments in transport connectivity, energy infrastructure and digital communications in the region, the Three Seas Initiative business forum in Ljubljana is for the first time expanding the discussion to include the field of innovation, which was an initiative of the Slovenian government and the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The prime minister concluded his address by stating his conviction that the business forum will increase the recognition of the Three Seas Initiative, create new business and investment opportunities, establish new business contacts and promote the further strengthening of economic cooperation. He wished all of the attendees successful networking and great success in all areas of work.
In the afternoon session the Presidents’ Panel will feature the visiting presidents of the countries in the initiative as well as US energy secretary Rick Perry and Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto. The two-day programme will include the presentation of 18 projects for increasing connectivity in the areas of transport, energy and digitalisation. The presentations will include Slovenia’s largest current infrastructure project, the second track on the Koper–Divača rail line. The substantive discussions will be supplemented with investment discussions with representatives of key European financial institutions and a panel of the heads of the delegations.
The second business forum (the first was held last year in Bucharest) will focus on four key areas: energy, transport, digitalisation and innovation, intersected by the topics of transatlantic relations, security and water. Slovenia is striving for an inclusive initiative that supports a united Europe and close transatlantic cooperation that addresses strategic investment projects in the region.
Alongside the business forum, the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is hosting a meeting of the network of chambers of commerce from the region of the Three Seas Initiative and its neighbourhood, and SID banka is hosting a high-level meeting on the topic of the Three Seas Initiative investment fund, and a side discussion will also focus on the initiative’s interconnections with the European Union’s macroregional strategies in the region.
The Three Seas Initiative is an informal presidential forum that unites 12 European Union Member States between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas, as well as the EU and the USA and various international institutions. The aim of the initiative is to foster regional dialogue and connect countries along the north-south axis by promoting investments in the economy, transport connectivity, energy infrastructure and digital communications. The Three Seas Initiative is also an important platform for strengthening transatlantic relations. Three presidential-level summits have been held within the initiative to date: Dubrovnik in August 2016, Warsaw in July 2017 and Bucharest in September 2018.