2021 is the year in which Bulgaria will chair the Three Seas Initiative. At a special ceremony in Tallinn, President Rumen Radev received the chairmanship from his Estonian counterpart, Kersti Kaljulaid. Digital connectivity was among the Estonian priorities at the head of the regional initiative, as well as work on the investment fund, which is to finance projects in the spheres of transport, energy and communications. What should the Bulgarian priorities be during the presidency of the initiative, uniting 12 European countries between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea?
Bulgaria has no interest in staying on the periphery of the strategic union, so an important focus in the speech of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Tallinn was the need for Greece, Turkey and Cyprus to join in, diplomat Valentin Radomirski has told the BNR.
Bulgaria has accepted the commitment to participate in the investment fund at a minimum level with 20 million euros. In addition, President Radev called for the investments that the member states of the initiative make in the fund to be directed to education.
"Four of the Central European Member States that are part of the Three Seas Initiative - the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Poland, have not yet disclosed if they would join and with what sums, while the other 8 have declared minimum participation, including Bulgaria. This means that there are suspicions about how these investments will be distributed and in which spheres. And here the proposal of President Radev comes on time as it is in an area that has recently been put aside in Eastern Europe," Valentin Radomirski says.
According to him, this is a good move for Bulgarian diplomacy and it shows that it sees nuances in the positions of Eastern European countries and is trying to find its new place. Another issue is that the 20 million that countries allocate, even if directed towards education, would be insufficient. "Obviously in Bulgaria there are doubts among certain circles as to how far we should join the initiative and in what way. These considerations are not so much external as local. The problems between Dondukov 1 and 2 /i.e. President and Prime Minister/ affect the sum that the state is ready to invest in the project."
One of the newly formed political forces in this country has already declared desire to focus on the Bulgarian participation in the "Three Seas" initiative.
"It must be kept in mind that the Three Seas Initiative may become one of the main factors, causing new division in the European Union. We have to be extremely careful, because this would not be in favor of Bulgaria," diplomat Valentin Radomirski warns. "We should not be part of an Eastern European bloc that opposes Old Europe, no matter what it is called. We need to strengthen ties with Europe, because it has been the only source of guarantees for our security so far," he says.
The Three Seas Initiative was established in 2016 and its basis was laid back in the era of the Cold War. It is based on the strategy for the Intermarium, developed as a sanitary corridor against Bolshevik Russia by the Polish military. "After the events in Ukraine and Kiev in 2014, favorable conditions were created for its revival, as a government came to power in Ukraine wanting greater integration with the West," Mr. Radomirski says. Its priorities today are no longer so much military-strategic, but are focused on the development of Eastern European countries.