Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great day for Lithuania, and a great day for the Three Seas Initiative!

This Forum marks an important step for our regional community, and I am happy that the founding father of the Three Seas Initiative, the President of the Republic of Poland, my dear friend Andrzej Duda, is here to witness it.

I would like to start by noting that in these challenging times, hosting the Three Seas Initiative Summit and Business Forum is a special responsibility.

Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine has once again proved the importance of the Three Seas Initiative. We need a strong and interconnected Europe. A continent able to rely on its infrastructure, energy security, and resilience.

Taking over the coordination of the Three Seas Initiative, Lithuania wanted to make full use of it. Our country is uniquely situated to appreciate the importance of better connectivity along the North-South axis. We also deeply care for the regional role in reconstructing Ukraine.

What motivates us is a firm belief that collective actions make both the best answer to common security threats and the most effective means of reaching economic prosperity.

This simple truth is proven by the entire history of NATO, the strongest defense alliance ever, and that of the European Union, a project of unprecedented socioeconomic integration.

If any country can demonstrate the transformative power of the European Union, surely, that must be Lithuania. Our GDP per capita figures over the last 20 years speak for themselves! We have raised our GDP per capita level from a very low starting position before EU accession to the current 90 percent of the EU average.

Today, we also look forward to the continued success of the Three Seas Initiative, and we appreciate what has already been achieved in such a short period of time. The growing influence of the Three Seas is clearly felt both regionally and globally, with new countries showing interest to join it.

Most importantly, the Initiative’s progress is demonstrated by the growing number of priority infrastructure projects. So far, we count 143 of them, spanning the fields of energy, connectivity and digital.

All these efforts will only add to the persistent economic growth of the Three Seas region. No global tensions and no regional challenges could derail us. Together, we are the fastest growing region globally, with forecasted accumulated GDP growth by the year 2030 reaching 35 percent.

For a long time, investments in the Three Seas region have been associated with high profitability and solid economic returns. And it won’t change any time soon!

Part of what makes the Three Seas region attractive to foreign investors is our vast human resources: 130 million people, or 30 percent of the EU population. Our labor force is highly skilled, effective and hungry for innovation. We are all eager to make the change!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Europe lived in peace for many years. Nevertheless, Russia’s war against Ukraine changed the basic premises of our existence. We all need to adapt to this new reality.

Today, we face two fundamental questions related to the Three Seas Initiative.

First, what is the role of the Three Seas Initiative in a new geopolitical situation?

Second, how can we better respond to Ukraine’s needs?

In my future vision of the Three Seas:

First, I see close coordination with the European Union, complementing its cohesion efforts and helping it to achieve enlargement goals.

Second, by having the United States of America as a strategic partner, the Three Seas Initiative reinforces the transatlantic partnership. The American participation brings massive changes to our region. And the potential scope of cooperation is not yet exhausted!

Third, in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Three Seas Initiative plays an important role by helping to reroute global transport and connectivity corridors.

For Lithuania, the transnational railway project “Rail Baltica” is of utmost importance. It connects the Baltic States to the rest of Europe and offers us new opportunities.

Four, we need to transform our energy sector. The development of renewable and green energy aligns with global decarbonization trends. It also makes the notorious Russian practice of energy blackmailing a thing of the past.

Five, there is also a need to better structure and organize our financial incentives to assist economic development.

The economic success of the Three Seas region has moved us closer to the well-developed Western countries. For this reason, a reduction in EU cohesion structural funding is already on the horizon.

Now is the time for private capital to step up and invest in viable infrastructure projects of the Three Seas region. To succeed, we must become an important hub for innovations in digital infrastructure, green hydrogen, electro-mobility development, and Artificial Intelligence.

Finally, I must stress that the Three Seas region today also faces the reconstruction of Ukraine as a massive infrastructural task – and a great opportunity. We will have to use our new capabilities in the most efficient way to support Ukraine at this challenging time!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Summit in Vilnius will add more important steps towards realizing our ambitions.

One of the highlights today will be Japan joining the Initiative as its fourth strategic partner, alongside this partnership we will significantly enhance the Three Seas connections to global supply chains, and to the Indo-Pacific region in particular.

We also welcome the launch of the dedicated international platform for Ukraine on transport. And a new multi-stakeholder and cross-dimensional platform on cybersecurity to be inaugurated here in Vilnius.

Furthermore, to facilitate information exchange among our countries with the benefit of green infrastructure, we will be starting another initiative to build a multi-country network in the green finance field.

In the afternoon session of this Business Forum, the signing of a Letter of Intent on the Three Seas Successor Investment Fund will solidify the progress made by the dedicated working group, underscoring our joint commitment to infrastructure development.

We welcome the progress in developing the Three Seas Innovation Fund, in collaboration with the European Investment Fund, and encourage cooperation among the Three Seas public development banks.

I am also pleased to note that the Three Seas Initiative countries show unity when it comes to military mobility plans. Strengthening the resilience of dual-use infrastructure along the North-South axis represents a responsible investment in our secure future.

Distinguished Guests,

While the continuous development of modern infrastructure is the backbone of the Three Seas Initiative, I think we should all reach for more. We must follow a dream – a vision – of becoming champions in connectivity, resilience and sustainability.

I see the Three Seas Initiative as a never-ending journey towards economic prosperity. To succeed, we must always remain an open place for business.

Today, I am delighted to see so many representatives of the multinational business community gather in Vilnius.  We need to take advantage of this unique opportunity and build something big and beautiful.

So let us create new long-term business partnerships. Let us work hand in hand to create a region that is prosperous and secure and make it a shining star of our future!