Rocznik Instytutu Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej 17 (2019) Zeszyt 3

Articles in this Issue

The Three Seas Initiative in the Context of International Challenges

Keywords: Three Seas Initiative, Central and Eastern Europe, geopolitics

The aim of the article is to introduce and explain the concept of the Three Seas Initiative, to show the external perspective  of this new regional cooperation format, and to briefly discuss the articles and reviews found in the journal’s volume.

The Three Seas Initiative: Geopolitical Determinants and Polish Interests

Keywords: Three Seas Initiative, Polish Foreign Policy, CEE

Since 2015, Polish foreign policy has witnessed a gradual rise in the significance of regional cooperation, as reflected in its enthusiasm for the Three Seas Initiative (TSI)1. The Initiative constitutes an in statu nascendi under the region between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas. (In Poland, a popular acronym to denote the project is the ‘ABC initiative,’ which reflects the Polish names of these bodies of water [i.e., Adriatyk, Bałtyk, Czarne]. However, it must be emphasized that the member states of the TSI do not operate in a vacuum, but rather within a broader institutional framework that includes the European Union, the Central European Initiative, and the Visegrad Group. This paper begins by outlining the prospective geopolitical determinants that will determine the success or failure of the TSI, with particular attention paid to issues of regional security. It concludes by analysing how the Initiative may become a new model for regional cooperation.

The Three Seas Initiative, a New Project at the Heart of European and Global Geopolitical Rivalries

Keywords: TSI, geopolitics, infrastructure

The objective of this paper is to show the geopolitical dimension of the TSI from a French point of view. The author presents the TSI implementation process, characterises Poland’s rivalry with Germany and Russia in a historical context, emphasizes the important role of Germany in the entire project, and reviews Russia’s attitude towards the region. The article includes numerous maps made by the author.

Evolution of Germany’s Stance Regarding the Three Seas Initiative

Keywords: Three Seas Initiative, Polish Foreign Policy, German Foreign Policy, geopolitics

When the political camp centred on the Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power in 2015, it led to a change in priorities in Polish foreign policy. The Three Seas Initiative (TSI), understood as closer cooperation between eastern states of the European Union in the area between the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black seas, has become a new instrument of foreign policy. The initiative demonstrates the growing importance of Central and Eastern Europe in the global game of great powers. The region has become a subject of rivalry, not only between the United States and Russia but also China. Therefore, the main objective of this article is to try to describe the importance of the region to Germany and how Germany’s stance on the TSI has evolved. The article consists of three parts, an introduction to the issues, the genesis of the TSI, and the definition of goals set by the states participating in this initiative, as well as analysis of the German stance towards the initiative since its development in 2015. The theories of geopolitics and neorealism are used as the theoretical basis for the analysis.


In this paper, the U.S. stance under the administration of President Donald Trump with regard to the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) is analysed. It shows the importance of Central and Eastern Europe in U.S. foreign and security policy, concluding that the Americans treat the TSI as an instrument for achieving their own goals, especially those in energy policy.

One Belt, One Road Between Three Seas: China’s Soft-power Policy Towards ‘New’ EU Members

Keywords: Belt and Road Initiative, Three Seas Initiative, soft power, New Silk Road, 17+1 format

China’s soft-power practice in its international activity boils down to four areas: culture, education, diplomacy, and economy. The most important element of China’s soft-power policy seems to be the Belt and Road  Initiative (BRI). Announced in 2013, the BRI is a complex, long-term and large-scale strategic political and economic project by the Chinese government with an infrastructure character. In this way, China is seeking to invest its capital surpluses in resurrecting the ancient Silk Road to create railroad and maritime networks with its most important trading partner – the European Union. In these circumstances, in September 2015, the presidents of Central and Eastern EU member states announced the establishment of the separate Three Seas Initiative (TSI), a political and economic project bringing together 12 EU states, including 11 ‘new’ members and Austria. These entities constitute an informal bloc of states between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas, though without a permanent secretariat but with rotating leadership. In addition to the lack of a formal structure, the TSI region, located mainly in the EU’s eastern part, is characterized by a weaker infrastructure network than Western Europe, lower GDP (except Austria), and high dependence on gas supplies from Russia (except Croatia). To overcome these disparities, the TSI has developed a catalogue of 48 investment priorities in three economic areas: energy, transport, and digitalisation. China’s soft-power policy towards the ‘new’ EU members may be decided by the American patronage of the TSI and the fact that one of the flagship projects is the North-South Gas Corridor, which will enable the sale of American LNG in Central Europe, which has been dependent on gas supplies from Russia, China’s partner in the BRI. In the context of the US-China trade war, White House planners recognise Central Europe as both a peripheral and key area for their policy and seek to strengthen the Three Seas project, which may lead to limiting areas of cooperation under the ‘17+1’ format, involving CEE countries and China. On the other hand, the development of better energy, transport and digital connections in the EU’s east clearly intersects with China’s idea of building a New Eurasian Land Bridge under the BRI to connect the most economically developed edges of Eurasia. The new U.S. strategy towards the countries of the CEE seems to boil down to involvement in specific energy-related projects. Instead of blocking or diminishing BRI-related infrastructure projects in China, they seem in fact to complement the Chinese activity in the CEE. Increased investment by American enterprises in the region may allow the administration in Washington to maintain control of Chinese infrastructure investments, and the US involvement may even lead to the participation of American companies in projects originally started by Beijing.

The Three Seas Initiative in the Foreign Affairs Policy of Hungary

Keywords: Three Seas Initiative, foreign affairs, Hungary, Russia, Orbán

The Three Seas Initiative (TSI) constitutes a project involving the cooperation of twelve European countries. Poland and Croatia, the founders of the TSI, are especially active in this respect. Even though Hungary seems the closest political ally of Poland, the state rarely participates in TSI actions. In addition, when pursuing its politics, Hungary remains in contradiction to the principles of the TSI – chiefly regarding energy policies. The paper aims to offer answers to questions concerning the significance of the TSI in Hungary’s foreign affairs policies and the state's perception of such a form of cooperation in Europe.