The President in Vilnius: Improving Energy, Transport and Digital Connectivity along the North-South Axis Must Remain a Priority to Strengthen Cohesion across the European Union

2024-04-11 16:37:00

Infrastructural connectivity in the energy, transport and digital spheres along the North-South axis must remain at the core of the Three Seas Initiative, as it is strategically important for the entire European Union. This was stated by head of state Rumen Radev in his speech at the presidential panel of the Three Seas Summit in Vilnius. The event was hosted by the President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda, who welcomed the heads of delegations to the forum.

The Three Seas initiative unites 13 EU countries - Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Greece. Strategic partners of the Initiative are Germany, the European Commission and the USA, as well as Japan, while Ukraine and Moldova enjoy the status of associated participating countries.

President Radev noted that under the Three Seas Initiative, this country managed to attract capital in the amount of about EUR 200 million in the fields of transport and energy. Bulgaria made the most of the opportunities of the initiative and we managed to achieve great progress and receive support precisely for the development of our connectivity, for the development of energy and transport, said Rumen Radev in response to a journalist's question upon his arrival at the Summit in Vilnius. The capital attracted by this country for projects is about 10 times greater than the amount of funds invested by Bulgaria in the Three Seas Investment Fund.

Along with the specific practical benefits, Bulgaria has also made a significant contribution to the development of the initiative, Radev noted. The President added that during the Bulgarian presidency of the Summit in Sofia, which he hosted in 2021, Bulgaria made the promotion of cooperation in the field of innovation, science and scientific research the focus of the initiative. This idea of ours received strong support and we reached an agreement on the creation of the Three Seas Innovation Fund, the development of which is progressing, the president said, noting the development of the cooperation of the Three Seas Innovation Fund with the European Investment Fund. According to the president, the deepening of partnerships in the field of innovation, science and research promotes competitiveness and sustainable development of the entire region.

The Bulgarian President stated that since the first Summit of the Initiative eight years ago, this format has succeeded in consolidating significant political support, the main objective of which is the social and economic development of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe by catching up on the lag in energy connectivity, the transport and digital spheres. The head of state noted that the importance and foresight of this idea had been proven in recent years in the context of a number of crises. The Covid-19 pandemic, the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine have led to a drastic disruption of supplies. Overcoming these crises requires connectivity between our countries, Rumen Radev pointed out. The President identified as the main challenge for the Three Seas Initiative the lack of sufficient funds in its Investment Fund to meet the level of ambition for large-scale infrastructure projects.

During the presidential panel in Vilnius, the Bulgarian head of state indicated that it is crucial that the Initiative remains focused on issues of practical importance that will strengthen cohesion across the European Union.



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