President Pahor on the first day of the Munich Security Conference attends discussion on Three Seas Initiative
München, 15. 2. 2019 | press release, speech
This year the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is again attending the Munich Security Conference, at the invitation of its Chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger. The conference is being held from 15 February 2019 until Sunday 17 February 2019.
This is the most important security conference in the world, where decision-makers and experts in security and foreign policy discuss the current and future political and security challenges faced by the international community. This afternoon President Pahor gave a speech at the event dedicated to the Three Sea Initiative. He will also hold several bilateral meetings on the margins of the conference.
The main topics of the conference discussions are related to the current political and security situation in Europe and the world. The most important security policy designers discuss international cooperation in defence, multilateralism, global trade and current crisis areas, and consider the link between climate change and conflicts. Special attention is given to modern challenges that take advantage of the vulnerability of democratic systems.
Today President Pahor gave a speech entitled "The Three Seas Initiative: Central Europe’s Answer to Great Power Competition?". The aim of the discussion is to evaluate the achievements in the development of the initiative to date and to look ahead to the preparations for the Three Sea Initiative Summit, which this year will be hosted by Slovenia.
The Three Sea Initiative (3SI) is an initiative at the level of presidents of 12 EU Member States and stems from a desire to establish closer integration with regard to infrastructure on the north–south axis. The aim of the initiative is to help in the search for investors for integration projects, including from the US.
The Munich Security Conference is a great opportunity to hold important bilateral meetings, as it is attended by more than 35 presidents or prime ministers of countries and high representatives of international organisations, as well as 90 ministers of foreign affairs or defence.
The text of the speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, at today’s discussion entitled "The Three Seas Initiative: Central Europe’s Answer to Great Power Competition?" follows below (spoken word applies!):
"At the beginning of June, Slovenia will host the 4th meeting of the heads of states of the Three Seas Initiative. The presidents of twelve EU Member States from Central and Eastern Europe will meet in Ljubljana. High political representatives from the United States and the European Union are also expected. As the host, I decided to invite the President of Germany also, as a guest at the 4th meeting.
On the sidelines of the meeting of the highest political representatives, Slovenia will host a business conference.
The objective of the political meeting is to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and our active engagement in the European Union and NATO.
Discussions will focus on the economy, transport, energy, environmental protection, and the research and development of digital communications.
A parallel meeting of esteemed businesspeople from these countries should additionally strengthen their mutual knowledge and cooperation.
It is important to understand with the Three Seas Initiative that it is still developing. This will be only its fourth meeting. But as host, I find it necessary to invest the utmost effort in the organisation of both events, and to provide the initiative with an opportunity for further development.
I am a great advocate of European integration. I am one of those who sees in the future the origins of a federal Europe, the United States of Europe. I am thus inclined to every kind of deepening cooperation between all EU Member States, not their divisions.
Nevertheless, the fact is that all countries, members of the Initiative with the exception of Austria, have quite similar challenges regarding democratic changes and membership of the EU and NATO.
After the fall of the communist regimes and the Iron Curtain, we must establish a solid democracy, the rule of law and a social market economy. We must eliminate the lagging of development after the western part of Europe. Since many countries were members of the Warsaw Pact, they are particularly sensitive to security risks from the East.
I thus see no harm in our in-depth cooperation, also within the framework of the Three Seas Initiative. It is true that the topics of past discussions were much more suited to cooperation at the governmental level. If we succeed in suitably developing this initiative in the coming years, I believe it will also move to the level of governments.
To this end, let me mention the Brdo-Brijuni Process. In three months’ time, we will meet in Albania. Over the years, this initiative at the level of heads of states became so politically relevant that, together with the Berlin Process, it was upgraded into inter-govermental cooperation. Perhaps something similar may develop from the Three Seas Initiative.
High representatives of the USA have attended the meetings since the start. And also high EU representatives since the 2018 meeting in Bucharest. This is important, because the suggestion that the USA wishes to, particularly in the field of energy, change the Three Seas Initiative into a club similar to the one created by China with the 16+1 initiative, is thus refuted. In such a context, the presence of, and cooperation with, the USA and EU is welcome and useful.
As I already said, the Three Seas Initiative is in the early stages of development. As a supporter of a strong and united Europe, I see it as support and not as a barrier to pan-European cooperation.
I think it is extremely useful if the highest political representatives from these countries, the United States of America, the EU and this year’s guest country, Germany, meet once a year and deepen our mutual understanding, respect and cooperation.
At a time when Europe is weaker than we would like it to be, this may contribute to strengthening it. Furthermore, we also develop allied and partnership relations with the United States of America, which I find geopolitically very important from the viewpoint of the entire European Union."