Friday, 9 July 2021

Plenković Meets with Bulgarian, Estonian Presidents, Amazon Reps

ZAGREB, 9 July 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković held several bilateral meetings in Sofia on Friday, on the fringes of a Three Seas Initiative summit.

Plenković tweeted that he held talks with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on economic cooperation and cooperation within the Initiative, migration, the fight against COVID-19, and the two countries' ambition to join the Schengen and euro areas.

Plenković also held talks with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who supported Croatia's Schengen bid.

"We appreciate Estonia's support in Croatia's ambition to become a member of the Schengen and euro areas," he tweeted.

Plenković and Kaljulaid also talked about economic cooperation, notably in energy and digitalisation, EU efforts in fighting COVID-19, and climate challenges.

He also met with representatives of the Amazon Web Service, tweeting that they talked about digitalisation in Croatia, plans for the company to open a regional centre in Zagreb, and cooperation in digital transformation, which he said would also create jobs.

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Friday, 9 July 2021

Plenković: LNG Terminal Put Croatia on Energy Map of the World

ZAGREB, 9 July 2021 - The LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk has put Croatia on the energy map of Europe and the world, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters in Sofia on Friday where he was attending a summit of the Three Seas Initiative.

The aim of this initiative is to connect the countries of Central Europe, from the Baltic to the shores of the Black Sea and the Adriatic. The initiative is backed by the United States, and Croatia, as a participant, has a number of projects, Plenković said, citing the LNG terminal on Krk island.

"This year Croatia has opened its LNG terminal at Krk, putting itself on the energy map not just of Europe but of the world as well. We believe that in this way Croatia has made a great contribution to cooperation in the energy sector as part of this initiative," the prime minister said.

The Three Seas Initiative was launched by Croatia and Poland at a meeting in Dubrovnik in the summer of 2016 to promote trade and infrastructure, energy and political cooperation in the region between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

The LNG terminal at Krk is important to Croatia because it is connected to an existing terminal in Poland.

Plenković said that Croatia would use funds for projects that would benefit all countries participating in this initiative. 

The participating countries are: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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Friday, 18 June 2021

HBOR: Three Seas Investment Fund Collects €1 bn to Date

ZAGREB, 18 June 2021 - The Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund  (3SIIF) has so far raised €1 billion to be used for investing in infrastructure projects, a virtual conference organised by the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) heard on Friday.

The aim of the conference was to illustrate the features of the 3SIIF and the opportunities it offers in terms of financing infrastructure investments.

The fund aims to raise three to five billion euro for this purpose from institutional and private investors, while the goal is to reduce disparities in infrastructure quality in relation to Western Europe as well as generate a profit for investors through investments in the fastest growing region in the EU.

"So far, the Fund has raised more than 900 million euros to be used for investing in infrastructure projects that contribute to security and diversity of energy supply, economic, traffic, social and digital connectivity of the Initiative member countries as well as stronger EU integration by reducing disparities in infrastructure quality," HBOR said in a press release.

The conference was opened by HBOR CEO and 3SSIF supervisory board member Tamara Perko, while Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman addressed the conference via video link.

The Three Seas Initiative is a forum of twelve states in the European Union, along a north–south axis from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea in Central and Eastern Europe.

Fore more on business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated business section.


Monday, 19 October 2020

Croatia Remains Committed to Three Seas Initiative

ZAGREB, October 19, 2020 - The Croatian government remains committed to the strategic goals of the Three Seas Initiative, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at a virtual summit of this initiative on Monday.

He said that Croatia would contribute up to €20 million to the initiative's investment fund through the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

We hope that our cooperation will free up huge potential for growth, connectivity and prosperity, Plenkovic told the summit formally hosted by Estonia.

The Three Seas Initiative is a joint Croatian-Polish project launched at a meeting in Dubrovnik in the summer of 2016 with the aim of boosting trade, infrastructure, energy and political cooperation in the region stretching between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

The initiative brings together 12 EU member states: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Croatia attaches particular importance to it because of the construction of an LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk which would be connected by a gas network to the existing terminal in Poland.

The United States and Germany support the initiative.

The continued involvement of the United States in the Three Seas Initiative will be profitable for all participants, Plenkovic said, hoping for a stronger role of the European Commission and Germany in the initiative in the future.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Grabar-Kitarović Defends Three Seas Initiative

ZAGREB, January 22, 2020 - Outgoing Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Wednesday that the Three Seas Initiative, as one of the most important initiatives in Europe and the European Union, was important for Croatia, calling on her successor, Zoran Milanović, to support Croatia's participation in it.

Grabar-Kitarović was speaking at a panel called: "Growing Europe: The Economic Vitality of Central and Eastern Europe", organised on the margins of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos by the Atlantic Council, Goldman Sachs and the largest Polish insurance group PZU.

In her address, she presented the Three Seas Initiative which she had launched together with Polish President Andrzej Duda. She said that the initiative is aimed at "strengthening this part of the European Union and ensuring that our citizens enjoy the same living conditions as exist in other European countries."

Asked by the press about the questionable support for the Three Seas Initiative of President-elect Zoran Milanović, Grabar-Kitarović said that it was his decision, but that she would recommend to him to support this initiative.

"As for the President-elect, it is up to him to decide whether he will participate or not. I would certainly recommend to him to participate. However, I believe that Croatia will not withdraw from the initiative because it is not just at the presidential level but also at many other levels, including the prime minister, relevant ministries and business," Grabar-Kitarović said.

The panel also involved Polish President Duda and Latvian President Egils Levits.

In her speech, Grabar-Kitarović noted that the European Union was still a community of differences in levels of development between its north and south, east and west, adding that this was due to the circumstances in which the countries of Central Europe had found themselves during several decades of the 20th century.

"During this period, they were hindered or delayed in developing their potentials and were disjoined from modern European economic and political democratic trends," the president said, adding that the consequences of this are most evident in the lack of infrastructure networks in energy, transport and telecommunications – areas that underpin Europe’s growth and development.

Grabar-Kitarović said that with its three main pillars – transport, energy and digitisation – the Three Seas Initiative aims to overcome Europe’s uneven development and contribute to the cohesion of the EU.

Noting that at its core, the Initiative is aimed at the prosperity of the entire European Union, the President remarked that this is especially relevant for the energy independence and security, economic, social and territorial cohesion, as well as the overall resilience of the European Union to the various challenges being faced on the global level.

"Ultimately, the development and prosperity of the countries of Central Europe is bound to have a positive impact in the political arena, as it will strengthen the cooperation among Central European nations and steer them in the direction of greater economic, cultural and other cohesion," Grabar-Kitarović underscored.

She went on to say that Central Europe represents one of the fastest growing EU regions and said she is convinced that with its goals, continued development and supporting deliverables of the summits in Dubrovnik, Warsaw, Bucharest, and Ljubljana, the Three Sees Initiative will boost this success even more.

She added that the participation of the United States and Germany, as partner countries of the Initiative, and the support of the European Commission, but also of the financial institutions – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank – has reaffirmed the commitment of everyone involved to the economic development of Central Europe, with a view to reaching the real convergence of the economies of the Initiative countries with the western part of the EU.

"In addition to political challenges that threaten the unity of the European Union – at this moment, Central Europe could be seen as a beacon of commitment to the European idea. It is the idea of cohesion, consolidation, prosperity and a fully integrated and functional internal market, making the European Union more resilient globally," Grabar-Kitarović said.

In conclusion, she said that in the context of EU membership Croatia has two more goals to fulfil: entry into the Eurozone and the Schengen Area.

"Our objective is to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in the first half of this year, during Croatia’s Presidency of the EU Council. Becoming part of the Schengen Area is of great importance for the security of not just Croatia but the entire European Union," Grabar-Kitarović said.

After the panel, Grabar-Kitarović has left for Jerusalem to attend the World Holocaust Forum. Among those attending will be French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

More news about Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Three Seas Summit Ends, Presidents Want Concrete Results

ZAGREB, June 6, 2019 - The heads of the Three Seas Initiative states said in Brdo Pri Kranju on Thursday they did not want red tape, a secretariat and only promises, reiterating that the goal was to equalise living standards in the eastern and western EU.

At the end of a two-day summit held in Ljubljana and Brdo Pri Kranju, the 12 heads of state signed a joint declaration which contains the general and repeatedly stated commitment to boosting the EU's economic development and cohesion by building an energy, transport and digital infrastructure.

Speaking at a press conference, they said they wanted concrete results. The conference was addressed by presidents Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, Borut Pahor of Slovenia, Andrzej Duda of Poland, Klaus Iohannis of Romania and Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission.

The presidents said the Three Seas Initiative was fully aligned with EU efforts, that countries of the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership were invited to join it, and that they wanted to encourage the Commission to include their conclusions in future policies.

Juncker said these were concrete projects aimed at improving the lives of people living in the region, so the Commission helped it from the start.

The presidents welcomed the fact that this was the second time the EC president attended a summit of the Initiative, which was earlier considered a US Trojan horse against Germany, Russia or the EU.

They said the Initiative was an opportunity to hear the voice of Central Europe as the fastest growing part of the EU and that concrete results were necessary. Grabar-Kitarović said they agreed that it was necessary to eliminate unnecessary red tape barriers, improve the investment climate and step up work permit issuance.

We don't want red tape, a secretariat and a headquarters but concrete projects and opportunities to finance them, she said and Duda reiterated it.

On Wednesday, they were named the founding mother and father of the Initiative launched in 2015. Today it comprises 12 states and is supported by the US and, recently, by Germany. The Ljubljana summit was also attended by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and German President Franz-Walter Steinmeier.

One of the concrete results is an investment fund, led by Polish and Romanian banks, for building an energy, transport and digital infrastructure. It was launched at last year's summit in Bucharest but put into operation at this year's meeting. The European Investment Bank joined the fund today and negotiations are under way with other European banks as well as the World Bank.

The vision we have of erasing the differences between the so-called old and new Europe we are now turning into concrete projects which will be implemented not just with European funds, but also the investment fund we established, which I believe will be one of the more important investors in our region, said Grabar-Kitarović.

Pahor said sustainable development and preserving the environment, water resources and food were also important for the Initiative's 12 states.

Next year's summit will be held in Estonia.

More news about the Three Seas Initiative can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Three Seas Initiative Gets Investment Fund

ZAGREB, June 6, 2019 - The Three Seas Initiative has been given at a summit in Ljubljana a new dimension - an investment fund for building the transport, energy and digital infrastructure, member states' officials said on Wednesday.

The two-day summit of the initiative that was launched in 2015 by Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda is being held in Slovenia on Wednesday and Thursday. The forum comprises 12 European Union member states in Central and Eastern Europe between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

Three summits have been held, in Dubrovnik in 2016, in Warsaw in 2017 and in Bucharest in 2018. This year's summit, supported for the second time by a business forum, attracted 600 business representatives from 43 countries around the globe.

A novelty at this year's summit is that a report on the progress in key projects will be presented at the end of the forum, President Grabar-Kitarović said, assessing that the initiative has developed "unbelievably" since 2015 when it came across a lot of scepticism.

"Another exceptional thing is the investment fund that was launched last year when a non-binding letter of intent was signed between banks in our countries. Today it becomes a real fund which currently includes Poland and Romania, but negotiations are being conducted with European investment and development banks as well as the World Bank, so it is expected that they will also participate, and then other countries too," she said after the panel discussion "The EU between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas."

Slovenia's President Borut Pahor also participated in the panel discussion as did Estonia's President Kersti Kaljulaid, Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev, Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Poland's President Duda, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Czech President Milos Zeman, who attended the summit for the first time.

Grabar-Kitarović said that transport infrastructure, digitisation and the LNG terminal on Krk are Croatia's main interests within the initiative, adding that the LNG terminal is not only important as far as energy is concerned but also strategically.

"It is important that the entire area of Central Europe is not be dependent on one energy source and to diversify and connect the entire area." Digitisation, she said, is the "solution to a lot of problems in Croatia, including emigration."

"Broadband internet and its introduction would enable better education as well as the possibility of living in Croatia while working elsewhere." That is particularly important for remote and small places such as islands, rural and mountain areas, she added.

Duda recalled that travelling from Tallin, Estonia to Constanta, Romania takes three days, yet it only takes one day to travel from Barcelona, Spain to Gothenburg, Sweden, which shows the great difference in connectivity between the west and east compared to the north and south.

Radev underlined that a good indicator that the initiative was heading in the right direction was the great interest that Brussels has shown, while Estonia's president warned that future projects should not only be competitive but clean as well because the planet needs to be saved. Estonia is known as a digital leader so she said that Tallinn is prepared to head the digital connectivity of the region.

President Zeman spoke about connecting the Elbe, Oder and Danube rivers as complementary to the initiative. He underscored that that was not important only because of water transport but for water supply too. Grabar-Kitarović later welcomed his proposal particularly in reference to the river port in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.

Szijjarto once again reiterated that Central Europe would be the driver of the EU's growth. We have shown that less duplicity, double standards and political correctness bring better results, he said.

Perry supported strengthening the energy union and said that today the USA, as the leading global producer of oil and natural gas, is introducing a balance in the energy world and that that can be beneficial to friends and allies.

We will never use energy as a means of political coercion, he said referring to Russia.

Participants at the summit said that next year Ukraine could join the initiative.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier joined the summit in the afternoon for the first time. Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to support the initiative on Friday.

More news about the Three Seas Initiative can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Three Seas Initiative Summit to Be Held in Slovenia This Week

ZAGREB, June 3, 2019 - A Three Seas Initiative forum will be held in Slovenia on Wednesday and Thursday, and the event will be attended by heads of state of 12 central and eastern European countries, including Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, her office announced on Monday.

The Three Seas Initiative was launched in 2015 and comprises 12 EU member states located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Its objective is to bolster regional dialogue and connect the countries between the north and the south.

Emphasis is on cooperation in projects of common interest with a view to increasing energy security, strengthening road and digital connections, and developing the market and social cohesion.

Three summits have been held to date – in Dubrovnik in 2016, in Warsaw in 2017 and in Bucharest in 2018. This year's summit is taking place in Brdo Pri Kranju and Ljubljana, and will be supported by a business forum.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been invited, although his country did not attend the previous summits at presidential level. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and a high US representative have also been invited.

The summit will discuss investment in the economy, transport connections, the energy infrastructure, environmental protection, research and development, and digital communications.

More news about the Three Seas Initiative can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Three Seas Summit Supports 11 Croatian Priority Projects

ZAGREB, September 18, 2018 - A Three Seas Initiative summit in Bucharest confirmed on Tuesday a list of 40 priority projects aimed at bolstering the economic development of central European countries so as to reduce as much as possible the gap between old and new Europe, and participants strongly supported transatlantic ties and the region's energy independence.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Three Seas Initiative to Reduce Differences Between Old and New Europe

ZAGREB, September 18, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Bucharest on Monday the Three Seas Initiative could contribute to the important goal of reducing the differences in the development of the countries of the old and the new Europe, presenting at a business forum the Croatian projects which could contribute to that goal.

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