Vilnius Summit 2024

The Ninth Three Seas Initiative Summit and the Sixth Business Forum were held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 11 April 2024, hosted by the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda.


Lithuania held the 3SI Presidency for the first time. The ever-growing interest to cooperate in the 3SI framework demonstrated the significantly increased geopolitical importance of this region, its openness for collaboration with like-minded partners and also vibrant practical 3SI cooperation in various sectors of regional connectivity.

During its 3SI Presidency, Lithuania targeted the consolidation and enlargement of the 3SI, strengthening cooperation with strategic partners, building resilient infrastructure, enhancing cohesion and connectivity within the European Union, and assisting the European integration of associated participating states – Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. The fundamental goal of the 3SI remains bold – to enhance regional cooperation on infrastructure and connectivity for a resilient Europe and a stronger transatlantic partnership.

The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, stressed that the new geopolitical reality gives the Three Seas Initiative, based on the North-South connectivity axis, an impetus to grow in multiple directions as a regional cooperation framework. Most of the 3SI countries represent NATO’s eastern flank, which must be strengthened infrastructurally for both civil and military use. It is important to reorient transportation links, diversify energy resources and routes, and build resilient infrastructure. He also highlighted the need to overcome persistent infrastructural gaps, including those separating the 3SI countries from the associated countries, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

For its viability and growth, the Initiative will have to continue delivering practical solutions and building synergies with the existing formats, involving broader stakeholders’ communities. The President of Lithuania highlighted the need for increased practical cooperation on cybersecurity, green finance, military mobility, and cooperation among development banks. Lithuania’s proposals for stronger targeted cooperation in these areas were fully supported by the other 3SI countries. Another two important initiatives focused on Ukraine: one is a dedicated international platform for Ukraine’s transport recovery and linking it to the rest of European networks (Common Interest Group for Ukraine, CIG4U) under the auspices of the International Transport Forum, and the second is the addition of Ukraine’s (as well as Moldova’s) infrastructural projects into the list of 3SI Priority Projects. Lithuania invited 3SI countries and partners to play a more active role in these important initiatives and projects to support Ukraine’s reconstruction, striving to build it back better.

One of Lithuania’s priorities during its 3SI Presidency was to synchronize goals and implementation activities both on the political and economic level, based on the main 3SI idea that the 3SI is a politically inspired, but economically and commercially driven platform. The best proof of this was the record number of participants – nearly 1,000 – in the 3SI Vilnius Business Forum, which focused on resilient and smart growth, thus supporting the 3SI political goals. During the Forum, Lithuania acknowledged the important contributions of international organizations in the 3SI region and welcomed the leaders of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), the OECD, the International Transport Forum, the International Telecommunications Union, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and others.

The 3SI’s visibility and enlargement stimulus continue to grow. One of the deliverables of the Vilnius 3SI Summit is that Japan joined the Three Seas Initiative as the fourth strategic partner. Japan’s continuous engagement with the 3SI will significantly contribute to the objectives of the Initiative and strengthen its connections to global supply chains and the Indo-Pacific region. In addition to that, other like-minded countries such as Montenegro, the State of Israel, the Republic of Türkiye, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Finland, and the Kingdom of Spain, have also expressed their intention to deepen cooperation with the 3SI and participated as guests in the Vilnius 3SI Summit.

The main priorities during the Lithuanian 3SI Presidency were the following:

1.     Strengthen cooperation and interconnectivity between the countries of the region in the fields of energy, transport and digitalization to achieve greater convergence within the EU.

2.     Promote stronger engagement of strategic partners, particularly through the transatlantic link between the United States and the 3SI region, attracting investments to the region. Also, develop a broader coalition of like-minded countries.

3.     Focus on building infrastructure resilience, protecting critical infrastructure, accelerating the development of military mobility and cybersecurity, and laying the groundwork for a successor to the 3SI Investment Fund.

4.     Bring together 3SI and other like-minded countries to strengthen and expand support for Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction, especially in the field of transport, and tap into 3SI activities the potential of other initiatives, such as the CIG4U.

5.     Mobilize 3SI support to the associated participating states and other EU candidates for deeper infrastructural integration into the region and the European Union, including in the context of EU accession negotiations.

6.     Deepen economic and business cooperation and deliver practical results to support political goals. 

Vilnius 3SI Summit

The 3SI Summit was opened on 11 April 2024 by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, who chaired the 3SI plenary session. This highest-level meeting brought together distinguished delegations from 24 countries, including ten heads of state and the Initiative’s strategic partners (the United States, Germany and the European Commission). The Federal President of the Republic of Austria, the President of the State of Israel and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan addressed the Summit via video messages.

In the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the participants, including many internationally renowned experts, discussed the significance of helping Ukraine to defend itself and the necessity of continuing to support it with all means until victory. The Three Seas Initiative reaffirmed its unwavering support for Ukraine, its sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Together we are ready to play an important role in Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction by supporting its initiative to build back better,” the President of Lithuania stated in his opening speech. 

Among the participants of the Vilnius 3SI Summit were the leaders and representatives of the 3SI participating countries – President of the Republic of Lithuania Mr. Gitanas Nausėda, President of Romania Mr. Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of the Republic of Poland Mr. Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Rumen Radev, President of Ukraine Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of the Republic of Estonia Mr. Alar Karis, President of the Czech Republic Mr. Petr Pavel, President of the Republic of Latvia Mr. Edgars Rinkēvičs, President of Hungary Mr. Tamás Sulyok, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova Mr. Dorin Recean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment of the Slovak Republic Mr. Tomáš Taraba, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia Mr. Gordan Grlić Radman, and Minister of Defense of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Marjan Šarec.

Among other participants of the 3SI Summit were also representatives of the strategic partners and guests – Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, European Commission, Dr. Anna Lührmann, Minister of State for Europe, Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Geoffrey Ross Pyatt, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, USA, Mr. Jakov Milatović, President of Montenegro, Mr. Durmuş Ünüvar, Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Republic of Türkiye, Mr. Jukka Salovaara, Permanent State Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Finland, Mr. Chris Barton, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Europe, United Kingdom, and Ms. María Lledó Laredo, Secretary General for European Affairs, Kingdom of Spain. 

As a result, the leaders of the 3SI participating states adopted the Joint Declaration of the Ninth Summit, demonstrating a strong commitment to cooperate and deliver practical results in regional connectivity, underscoring the importance of the strategic presence of the United States in the region, support for Ukraine and openness to like-minded partners. 

Vilnius 3SI Business Forum

The 3SI Business Forum greatly contributed to building networks of experts and business-to-business contacts, opening opportunities for practical connectivity between 3SI countries, economies, businesses, scientists, and people. Nearly 1,000 participants in the 3SI Business Forum from 31 countries, accompanied by a record number of 21 side events, 333 B2B meetings and 44 bilateral meetings, echoed the Summit agenda and supported it with practical cooperation.

Side events took place before, during and after the Summit. They covered a range of topics from mobile connectivity, software development in cybersecurity, STEM talent and digital advancement, to fostering scientific and cultural cooperation networks, as well as social inclusion, economic competitiveness through infrastructure development, innovation, energy security, cleantech, and renewable energy.

On the eve of the Summit, April 10, the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) high-level ministerial discussion on Ukraine gathered policy makers for a discussion supported by transport reconstruction projects, which then fed integrally into the panel on Ukraine in the 3SI Business Forum the next day. Also, worth singling out is the event dedicated to building cyber resilience, organized by the Lithuanian Infobalt Association in collaboration with its international partners, which attracted a wide range of participants. On April 12, the EBRD-led seminar for companies and experts, aimed at facilitating Ukraine’s reconstruction, gathered more than 100 participants. 

The guiding topics of the Vilnius 3SI Business Forum were the following

1.     building net zero industries and energy resilience,

2.     empowering technological advancement and digital security,

3.     addressing mobility challenges and adjusting transport corridors,

4.     covering financing gaps for infrastructure investment,

5.     discussing ways for the successful recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, including infrastructure. 

Key deliverables of the Vilnius 3SI Summit and the Business Forum:

  • Japan joined the 3SI as its fourth strategic partner. Japan’s continued engagement with the 3SI significantly contributes to achieving the goals of the Initiative and strengthens its connections to global supply chains and the Indo-Pacific region in particular.
  • Strengthening of the International Transport Forum (ITF) Common Interest Group for Ukraine (CIG4U) as a way for practical cooperation on Ukraine’s transport reconstruction & expansion and encouraging all the interested countries to join the group. The main goals are twofold: 1. to address Ukraine’s immediate transport needs, acting as a platform for information exchange to facilitate action to meet the urgent transport and infrastructure needs as defined by Ukraine. This may include immediate repairs, replacement of materials or other actions to ensure the functioning and safety of infrastructure and transport routes. CIG4U will coordinate support for Ukraine's identified needs with national stakeholders and the international transport community, including the private sector. 2. to support the longer-term rebuilding of Ukraine's national and international transport links. CIG4U will provide analytical support for strategic infrastructure planning, identification of future trade corridors, transport mode reviews, and other policy priorities. Twenty-three projects have been identified and will now be prioritized by Ukraine. The first project, funded by Canada and carried out by the ITF Secretariat, will identify pathways to sustainable road and rail freight for Ukraine.
  • Initiative to build a network of existing multi-country collaboration platform(s) for increased practical coordination, information and know-how exchange among our countries, partners and the private sector in the field of cybersecurity in synergy with EU structures and networks. Such a multi-stakeholder and cross-dimensional platform could facilitate: networking between the Three Seas region and its partners from public and private sectors; discussions on a more coherent approach to cyber legislation, notably the NIS2 Directive; sharing of information, including CTI, and best practices for a resilient critical infrastructure; strengthening cyber threat evaluation capabilities to secure critical infrastructure and render it more resilient, using the existing Regional Cyber Defense Centre’s (RCDC) training facilities; identifying the most suitable technology and expertise solutions by businesses to develop a regional approach.
  • Initiative to build an informal multi-country network for increased practical coordination and information exchange among our countries, partners and the private sector in the field of green finance. There is an urgent need to mobilize resources required for a socially just and environmentally sustainable transition towards a climate neutral and resilient economy, including green infrastructure, in the 3SI region, particularly through the enhancement of cooperation in the field of availability and promotion of green finance in accordance with European standards. Such a network would facilitate coordination among the Three Seas region and its partners in public and private sectors, especially in the field of consolidating information about green investment projects within the 3SI region; sharing information and best practices for the creation and promotion of green finance products; identifying the most suitable technology, data and expertise solutions by businesses; joint initiatives in creating multi-country green investment solutions in the region; discussions on a more coherent approach to growth-enhancing green finance regulation.
  • Support for a working group tasked with laying the groundwork for a successor to the existing 3SI Investment Fund. Signing a Letter of Intent (LoI). The continuation of this funding initiative underscores our commitment to fostering infrastructure development and sustainable economic prosperity across the Three Seas region. In addition, in the margins of the 3SI Business Forum, five regional development institutions have signed a letter of intent to work for a successor fund.
  • Progress made in developing the 3SI Innovation Fund in collaboration with the European Investment Fund (EIF), with a perspective to provide capital to startups and scale-ups across the Three Seas region. The creation of such a fund would contribute to the economic growth of the 3SI region, unlocking innovation potential and cooperation.
  • Cooperation among public and private development banks of 3SI countries and other existing international financial institutions. Acknowledged the vital role of the private sector and financial institutions in attaining the 3SI goals, the counter-cyclical role of public development banks in mobilizing private capital to cover financing gaps for infrastructure projects.
  • Development of military mobility plans across the 3SI region, including a focus on the dual-use nature and civilian dimension of infrastructure development. Strengthening the resilience of dual-use infrastructure in the region for enhanced civilian and military mobility along the North-South axis, in line with the EU Action Plan on Military Mobility 2.0, represents a political goal as well as a responsible investment in our secure future and contributes to the reinforcement of the eastern flank of NATO.
  • Addition of priority infrastructure projects from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova to the aggregate list of 3SI Priority Projects, which has reached a total of 143, of which 25 come from these associated participating states and have been submitted on voluntary basis. The growing number of 3SI Priority Projects, some of which have already been completed, provides an assessment of the connectivity situation in the 3SI region, measures the progress and sends a clear signal to international investors, increases connectivity and facilitates infrastructural integration and connectivity with EU candidate states.
  • The Vilnius 3SI Business Forum, focusing on the 3SI region’s resilience and smart growth, to support the 3SI political goals. The high array of the multinational business forum community, reaching close to 1,000 participants, clearly demonstrates the ever-growing mutual interest to increase cooperation in the development of green technologies, energy security, digital infrastructure, cybersecurity, smart connectivity, financial solutions within the 3SI region, and the role of business in Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction. This interaction, supported by the business-to-business (B2B) platform to facilitate direct business contacts and opportunities, and by 21 side events, involving businesses, science communities and society organizations, gives rise to a rich and vibrant ecosystem development of the 3SI.

Materials related to 3SI Summit and Business Forum 2024:

The Republic of Poland will host the next 3SI Summit and Business Forum in 2025 and the Republic of Croatia – the 3SI Summit and Business Forum in 2026.