Twelve Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – gathered in Dubrovnik in August 2016 for the Dubrovnik forum – Strengthening Europe: Connecting North and South. The forum's aim was to create an informal platform for specific projects designed to secure political support and facilitate specific cross-border and macro-regional projects (ie, to improve connections between northern and southern Europe through energy and infrastructure projects).
The main topics that the forum addressed were energy safety and interconnectivity between the countries involved.
The forum was attended by six national presidents and other high-ranking government officials. The participating countries signed the Statement on the Three Seas Initiative, with the aim of:
- connecting the north-south gas corridor;
- reviving cooperation between Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea countries; and
- unifying the European energy market.
Previously, Europe's efforts were mainly focused on connecting Eastern and Western Europe.
The Three Seas Initiative should reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy and was strongly supported by the United States and China (which is also interested in connecting the north-south corridor to its own Silk Road initiative).
One of the Three Seas Initiative's key projects is the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Krk Island in Croatia, which will be the backbone of the new gas corridor to the Baltics. Further, the presidents of Croatia and Poland announced that the countries' LNG terminals should soon be connected, thus increasing diversity in Europe's gas market with the addition of another gas source. However, although both terminals were announced simultaneously, the Polish LNG terminal is operational, unlike the Krk terminal, so the plan to connect them remains uncertain.
The Dubrovnik forum provided a stimulus to another regional energy project – the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) – which will:
- contribute to the diversification of energy supply in central and southeastern Europe; and
- enhance Croatia's geopolitical position in Europe.
Croatia's minister of economy, Tomislav Panenic, and ministers from Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia – together with representatives from Azerbaijan's state-owned oil and gas company SOCOR – signed a memorandum of understanding on a project for the IAP's construction, confirming the countries' intention to complete the project, which began in 2007 when a draft declaration concerning the 516 kilometre pipeline was signed. The countries established a two-month deadline to draft details of the scope of the project's operative body and action plan.
The Krk terminal and the IAP are being developed within the framework of the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea and Central and Southeastern Europe gas connectivity regional energy initiatives.
The next high-level meeting of the Three Seas Initiative is scheduled for June 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland.
For further information on this topic please contact Miran Macešic or Ivana Manovelo at Macešic & Partners by telephone (+385 51 215 010) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Macešic & Partners website can be accessed at www.macesic.hr.
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