‘The potential of the 3 Seas Initiative and of the Bulgarian informal presidency of the process should be used to present the region as an attractive investment destination and to also help with the economic recovery from the recession’. This was the message, extended by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and National coordinator for the 3SI, during an online forum ‘The 3SI in 2021: Road to Sofia’, hosted by the Atlantic Council of the United States on 18 February, to which she was invited as a special guest and lead speaker. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow at the Council.
“Beyond political declarations, day-to-day involvement by Governments, executive agencies and and the private sector is crucial for the success of the Initiative. It is up to us to speed up implementation of projects, bring new investments to the region, facilitate business contacts and connectivity at the level of companies and citizens. I am convinced that this year is a time for implementation within the 3SI, Zaharieva said further.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister called for more interaction between the public and the private sector as a prerequisite for achieving the goals of the Initiative, which involves 12 EU member states, supported by the United States, Germany and the European Commission. She stressed the strong support for the initiative by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, expressed in a special video address during a meeting of foreign ministers and national coordinators last week. Ekaterina Zaharieva also welcomed the commitment made by the United States to support the Three Seas Investment Fund with $ 1 billion for energy projects, as well as the decision of the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to make a first installment of $ 300 million. She emphasized that it was crucial for member states and partners to work together to further expand the Fund with both public and private capital in order to reach the projected target of 5 bln. Euro.
"Building the credibility of the whole region as an attractive investment market, with a population of more than 110 million, will need time and a targeted communication strategy, involving not only politicians, but also business circles, local governments, NGO and media. We are confident that the Atlantic Council will continue to support us in this endeavour, spreading the good news about the 3SI among potential American investors," said Zaharieva.
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister presented the priorities of Bulgaria in the year of the informal presidency, among which are energy security and diversification of energy sources and routes of supply, as well as increasing transport and digital connectivity. She stressed that Bulgaria wishes to promote more regional connectivity, including in high-technology and innovation, building on the achievements of last year's Estonian presidency. "High-tech developments in digitalization, energy efficiency аnd green economy create new opportunities for smart networking between university research and innovation hubs, offering chances to our young innovators and IT professionals to stay and work in the region," said the Deputy Prime Minister.
General James Jones, Executive Director of the Three Seas Program at the Atlantic Council, Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher, Deputy Chairman of the Program, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Boyse, as well as political experts and investors from both sides of the Atlantic featured among the participants in the forum.