Ian Brzezinski: Three Seas Initiative leverages the power of collaboration

Through infrastructure development, the region promises not only to enhance its own growth but the economic strength of Europe as a whole

Photo: BGNES

The Three Seas Initiative is a pro-European project but it needs to be institutionalised. For this purpose, a Secretariat should be established to support the realisation of the infrastructure and energy projects that will be implemented, says Ian Brzezinski in an exclusive interview to BGNES.

For Ian Brzezinski, the Three Seas Initiative is not only a very unique undertaking, but also a responsible task. “Its objective is to accelerate the development of cross-border energy transport and digital infrastructure,” the expert said, adding that “through infrastructure development, the region promises not only to enhance its own growth but the economic strength of Europe as a whole”.

“Three Seas is a pro-European project,” Brzezinski is adamant.

“One of the exciting things about the Three Seas Initiative is that it is launching a fundamental new approach for mobilising private capital to drive infrastructure development,” he explained.

“This initiative has created a new international financial institution that is going to do two things:

Firstly, it is going to shed a spotlight on the region, highlighting its economic opportunity and its vitality.

Secondly, it will create some investment practices that are going to serve as a validator of sound investment practices which to be extremely attractive for the private capital, not just in Central and Eastern Europe but in Western Europe and North America, and for that matter, elsewhere around the world,” stressed Ian Brzezinski.

According to him, if Bulgaria invests in Three Seas infrastructure projects on a purely commercial basis, everybody is going to be a winner. He believes that in the following years, we can expect more direct investments, joint ventures and private partnerships coming from the US, the EU or other strategic partners, because what the Three Seas Initiative does is leveraging the power of collaboration.

“With all due respect, Bulgaria only has a certain amount of weight in the international marketplace. You could argue Estonia has even a little less. Maybe Poland has a little bit more… But when they work together - for example, through the Three Seas Initiative - these 12 nations constitute an economy with a GDP of $1.7-1.8tn, a population of over 110m people, with an average growth rate of over 3%… Basically, if you build the initiative in the right place, it will mobilise cooperation, and true cooperation in this region is creating real interest in private markets around the world. Thus, the Three Seas is going to be very attractive not just for its own region but for Europe and beyond,” the expert is categorical.

He considers that the construction of road infrastructure is incredibly important. “Due to the building of the north-south highway, it takes two to four times less to go a set distance north to south in the Three Seas region. I am tracking very closely the effort to build a digital highway that will link the entire region with a high-speed, highly modern fibre-optic network. This is a real step forward in an age when we are moving to 5G technology. That network will not only facilitate greater engagement within the region, but can be tied to international networks that go to Western Europe, that reach out to the Middle East, Asia and North America,” Brzezinski said.

Currently the Three Seas Initiative has an investment fund, which is managed transparently by the Amber Infrastructure Group, but it is not yet institutionalised and has no Headquarters or Secretariat.

“I think that fund would be even more successful and effective if it gets its institutionalisation. I have been a long-time advocate of Three Seas' creating a Secretariat. It will operate for greater generalisation of profits for the fund. I think it will be more broadly successful in attracting capital not just to the fund but also to the region's infrastructure projects. Such a Secretariat could also be an idea generator for different initiatives across the Three Seas region,” Brzezinski pointed out. According to him, it should be based in one of the major centres, such as Brussels, in order to better co-ordinate with the various political and financial institutions.

Commenting on Washington's attitude, he recalled that the Three Seas enjoyed very robust support from the previous administration of Donald Trump and from the US Congress.

“With the Joe Biden transition, it received even stronger support by the new team in Washington. Secretary of State Antony Blinken really praised the core institution of the Three Seas Initiative, the Three Seas Fund, within the first few weeks of his tenure in office. He highlighted it as a new model and interesting public-private partnership, and he encouraged countries and entities to invest in the Three Seas Fund,” Brzezinski said.

The initiative will also be very useful for transatlantic relations.

“If the Three Seas Initiative is effective, the region is going to be more prosperous, more resilient, it is going to be more secure and it is going to be a more effective member of a community within the transatlantic community of democracies. That is to the benefit of everyone.”

He believes that if today his late father, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is looking down on us, he would be very proud of the Three Seas Initiative, because it contributed to a Central Europe that is standing on its own and to its real value to the broader community of democracies.

And this is a real success, Ian Brzezinski is adamant.

On 8 and 9 July, Sofia will host the Three Seas Summit. In October 2020 in Tallinn, President Rumen Radev took over the rotating presidency from his Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid. Bulgaria has taken on the coordination process of the Initiative, which brings together 12 European countries located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

The interview was originally published by BGNES.



Ian Brzezinski is a Senior Fellow at Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy (2001-2005). Ian Brzezinski is the son of Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to US President Jimmy Carter.

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