The Economist: Germany Angry with Croatia Due to the Three Seas Initiative

By 20 July 2017

Chancellor Merkel reportedly believes that the goal of the initiative is to break up the European Union.

An article published recently in The Economist argues that Germany is extremely concerned about the Three Seas Initiative, led by Poland and Croatia, and believing that there is something more sinister behind announced economic projects. The magazine claims that for the Berlin-based officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the initiative seems to be an attempt to divide Europe and weaken the influence of Germany on its neighbours, reports Jutarnji List on 20 July 2017.

One of the possible answers is the launch of a new European infrastructure fund which would show whether Poland and its allies, including Croatia, are more interested in investments or whether the Initiative is more of a geopolitical project.

“The truth is that this Initiative is just about strengthening the cohesion of the European Union. In this way, we want to remove the differences between ‘old’ and ‘new’ members, and the goal of this informal initiative is certainly not to weaken the EU but to strengthen it instead,” say sources close to the Croatian President. German diplomacy has reportedly recognised the interests of Croatia, which are focused primarily on enhancing the cohesion in Central Europe and the realisation of projects that the EU is interested in. “All serious stakeholders have recognised our views, and there is no problem,” said the President's associates.

However, Croatia’s Member of European Parliament Ivan Jakovčić says that his colleagues in the European Parliament often ask him about Croatian foreign policy. “Polish President Andrzej Duda was one of the extremists during his term in the European Parliament, and his views are by no means close to the Croatian positions. I am sure that the Three Seas Initiative is not part of foreign-policy interests of Croatia,” says Jakovčić's.

He adds that the interest of the United States, no matter who is in power, is to have weak Europe and that the Initiative is an attempt to reduce the EU's influence on global processes. It is disastrous for Croatia to be among countries that will not be the proponents of the Union's policy.

“It is a pity for Croatia that, after 27 years of independence, it still does not lead a clear foreign policy, but is flirting with policies which are not in our interest, primarily because of personal reasons.” Jakovčić says that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović no longer lead coordinated foreign policy, given that the Prime Minister is engaged in protecting the essence of the EU, while “the President is prone to foreign-policy adventures and is too closely aligned with US views.”

While the Foreign Ministry officially did not want to comment on Jakovčić's criticism of Grabar-Kitarović, claiming that Croatia has a single foreign policy, sources close to the government admit that there is fear that Germany might misunderstand Croatia’s approach to the United States. Namely, the Prime Minister has always tried to maintain a balance between the European Union and the United States, while many believe that the President is putting too much emphasis on good relations with Washington.

No one, of course, disagrees that Croatia needs to have excellent relations with the United States, but the priority is the EU's interests. Jakovčić says that Croatia’s foreign policy priority is to enter the Schengen Area and introduce the euro. “That is why I warn about the Three Seas Initiative, which has been created by those who are criticised in Brussels due to their undemocratic policies at home.”

Translated from Jutarnji List.