On 11 February 2021 Ekaterina Zaharieva, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is also national coordinator for the Three Seas Initiative, hosted a video-conference of foreign ministers and national coordinators of the 12 EU participating countries. This was the first meeting in this format within Bulgaria’s informal presidency in 2021. Representatives of the Аdministration of the President of Bulgaria also took part on the Bulgarian side.

The discussion focused on the role of governments and state institutions in implementing the priority goals of the 3SI and on preparations for the Sofia Summit and Business forum later this year. Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister stressed the need for governments and state institutions to be more active in the implementation of projects under the Initiative, and for greater support for the 3SI Investment Fund to which Bulgaria has contributed EUR 20 millions.

The USA, Germany and the EU, as key partners of the 3SI, were also represented at the video conference. In a special video address the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed best wishes for success of the Bulgarian informal presidency and reaffirmed the United States’ robust support for the goals of the Initiative. 

The attending foreign ministers and national coordinators reiterated their firm commitment to the 3SI and to practical implementation of priority projects.

The greatest added value of the Initiative is that it is forward-looking and creates opportunities for educated young people to stay, live and work in our region,’ Ms Ekaterina Zaharieva said. She called for greater connectivity in the field of research, high technology and innovation, as well as among businesses and high-tech startup companies from the 12 countries.

Ekaterina Zaharieva also confirmed the priorities of the Bulgarian presidency, including energy security and diversification of energy sources and their routes of supply, as well as increasing transport and digital connectivity between the member countries.

‘Bulgaria is a strong proponent of more cohesion in digitalization and innovative technologies, energy security and green economy, as well as opportunities for smart networking’, Ekaterina Zaharieva added. Bulgaria’s proposals include the creation of digital platforms for networking between investment agencies, business organisations, SMEs, data centres and technological hubs in order to attract more strategic investors to the region.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of cooperation with the European Commission, the USA and Germany. She suggested to have more flexibility and pragmatism in the implementation of priority projects by involving on an ad hoc basis stakeholders and partners from non-member countries.

‘An example of such flexibility would be the completion of the North-South Corridor through connecting it to Greece’s Aegean ports. Another idea would be connecting the North-South Corridor to Trans-European Corridor 8’, the Foreign Minister noted. In her view, the 3SI should expand its outreach to the private sector, as well as develop partnerships with interested countries from the Western Balkans and the EU’s Eastern Partnership.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken remarks on the Three Seas Initiative: