On 28th of April, the American Chambers of Commerce in Latvia and Bulgaria in partnership with Digital Poland and Google hosted a Three Seas Initiative (3SI) Digital Conference in advance of the upcoming 3SI Summit in Riga. Experts outlined several important issues such as the significance and urgency of the digital transformation, the necessity to establish a coordinating institution of the 3SI as well as the opportunity to build strategic partnerships to integrate the Central and Eastern European region in the global market.  

Many distinguished keynote speakers joined the event to deliver remarks ahead of the Riga Summit including John Carwile, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Raimonds Lapiņš, Deputy State Secretary on Economic Issues at the Ministry of Economy of Latvia, Edgars Bondars, Ambassador‐at‐large for the Three Seas Initiative, John Tully, President of AmCham Latvia, Arturs Toms Pless, Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia, and Mark Boris Andrijanic, Minister of Digital Transformation of Slovenia, Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow, The Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C., USA; Petar T. Ivanov, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria; Marta Poślad, Director for CEE & Transatlantic Public Policy at Google. 

In his opening statement, John Tully, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia, Chairman of the Board at MikroTik said that “since Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, promoting regional collaboration has become more relevant than ever. It is critically important to cooperate in the digital area, boosting cross-border connectivity and securing smart energy, transport and digital networks. Now is the time for our countries to become closer integrated with one another and within the transatlantic community.”  

Arturs Toms Pless, Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia, revealed that the war that is waged by Russia in Ukraine sets the 3SI to a completely different agenda than before. He also underscored the importance of digital competence regarding cybersecurity and disinformation challenges. “Russian invasion in Ukraine has given us an example of unearthly power of propaganda. To secure our region we have no choice but to invest in critical thinking, media literacy and digital competence.” 

The panel underlined the impact of economic resilience on security of the region and discussed the digital priorities to safeguard a continued development of the 3SI countries. “We have to focus on how to create and attract top talent. This is a critical issue and concerns not only the development of the IT industry in the region, but any other industry as well,” underlined Mark Boris Andrijanic, Minister of Digital Transformation of Slovenia. He called for 3SI region to be the best and most competitive business environment in Europe with continued policy of keeping taxes low and capital accessible. Minister invited to think globally and to ensure that the transatlantic ties of the 3SI region are as strong as ever. 

The members of the meeting were unanimous that the cooperation between the 3SI and United States is strong and rooted in shared values. Ambassador of the United States to Latvia, John Carwile confirmed that US is a strong supporter of the 3SI and is looking forward to Summit in June in Riga. He reminded that energy, transport and digital infrastructures are the key to Europe’s integration. “Resilient networks are critical for security in the 21st century. These networks build the foundation of the digital economy and must be underpinned by trust. The nations that make up the 3SI understand the importance of an open, interoperable, secure and reliable internet, that gives internet users freedom to innovate and create new technologies.” 

The discussion panel concluded that the digital pillar of the 3SI countries is strong. “The cooperation between the 3S digital ministers has never been better. Our impact on EU digital policies has rarely been greater and, given the crisis and the war in Ukraine, the need for the 3SI has never been more urgent,” said Mark Boris Andrijanic, Minister of Digital Transformation of Slovenia. 

Upcoming 3SI Business Forum’s digital panel will address issues of European digital security, securing technological value chains as well as using new technologies in economic growth and promoting safe and secure commercialization of digital innovations.