On 26 April a panel discussion was organised in Vienna, Austria, to debate on minilateralism in EU, share new visions on regional initiative from a global perspective, look for the added value of the initiative to be brought to Austria and find effective strategies for the Green Deal to become the driving force in Central and Eastern Europe.

In four debate panels the event gathered leaders and professionals from Austria, Canada, France, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom and United States of America. Meeting was moderated by Andris Gobiņš - President of the European Movement Latvia, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee, Christian Ultsch - Die Presse and Dr. Mario Holzner – Managing Director, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies.  

In opening address, the Ambassador of the United States of America, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, expressed full support for the events that promote the idea and goals of the Initiative, especially in the context of today’s geopolitical situation and need to strengthen support to Ukraine. She reminded that the United States have supported the 3SI idea since the very beginning and emphasized the significant role in doing investment in the 3SI Investment Fund through U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).  

“The 3SI evidences the shared political, economic and civic ambition of twelve EU Member States,” the Latvian Ambassador to Austria, Guna Japiņa, underlined in her opening speech for the panel discussion. The ambassador highlighted that the 3SI is a politically inspired, economically driven forum, because its member states constitute the fastest-growing European region in economic terms.  

Referring to the initiative in the EU context, the Head of the President’s Chancery, Andris Teikmanis noted that in upcoming 3SI Summit and Business Forum in Riga, Latvia as the host country of the summit meeting expects high-level representation from all the members of the 3SI, and he called for the strengthening of the 3SI Investment Fund by attracting private partners. Mr. Teikmanis also reminded about the newly organized Civil Society Forum and Parliamentary Forum as a significant part of the upcoming event, emphasizing the diversity and potential of the 3SI.  

The Ambassador-at-Large for the Preparation of the 3SI Summit, Edgars Bondars, highlighted the global significance of this regional initiative, especially in relation to current security threats in Europe. He underlined in particular that the 3SI was a good platform for the renewal of Ukraine, gravely affected by war, and pointed out that Latvia is open to Ukraine’s participation in the 3SI Summit in Riga. “In current situation it is our responsibility and opportunity to activate economic ties between our countries in smart way,” said Mr. Bondars.  

In the concluding part of the event, experts joined discussion about the main benefits and potential contribution of the 3SI to Austria. Dr. Thomas Oberreiter, Director-General for Europe and Economic Affairs at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs elaborated that Austria has supported the Initiative from the very beginning and it is not a coincidence that Austria is member country of the 3SI since 2016, when the first meeting of 3SI countries took place in Dubrovnik. He added that Austria has also continuously emphasized the importance of 3SI complementarity with EU goals and especially with the Green Deal programme. “For Austria today the role of energy sector and its future development, and especially in the context of security, is crucial,” he added. During the upcoming 3SI Summit and Business Forum, which will be held in Riga on 20 – 21 June, one of the business discussions panels will be dedicated to energy sector and its potential development scenarios.  

In the conclusion of the event, the growing potential of the Three Seas region, economic growth, and positive future forecasts where shared.   

Other speakers of the discussion included: Georg Knill, President of the Federation of Industry; Jolanta Róża Kozłowska, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland; Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States of America; Emil Hurezeanu, Ambassador of Romania; Cornel Feruță, Secretary of State for Global Affairs and Diplomatic Strategies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania; Dr. Konrad Popławski, Head of the Central Europe Department, Center for Eastern Studies, Warsaw; Prof. Dr. Martin Selmayr, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in the Republic of Austria; Mr. Vasyl Khymynets, Ambassador of Ukraine to Austria; Emma Baines, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Vienna; Sebastian Barkowski, Plenipotentiary of the Minister for Climate and Environment within the framework of international climate and energy cooperation (PL); Lazăr Comănescu, Secretary General of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), former Ambassador of Romania to Germany, former Minister for Foreign Affairs/ Former Permanent Representative to the EU/Brussels; Mag. Judith Obermayr-Schreiber, E.M.B.L.-HSG., Federation of Industry, Managing Director REÖ Committee (Resources, Energy, Ecology), Climate, Infrastructure, Transport, Resources, Energy (KITRE); Mag. Michael Löwy, Federation of Industry, Head of International Relations & Markets; Dr. Thomas Oberreiter, Director-General for Europe and Economic Affairs at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.

Photocredit: SOCIETY/Pobaschnig