Dr Ludwin: The seat of the organization of Three Seas Initiative should be in Warsaw

“The seat of the organization of Three Seas Initiative should be in Warsaw, because Poland is the main initiator of activities promoting the Three Seas Initiative” – dr Filip Ludwin, vice-dean of Collegium Intermarium said in the interview for Schuman Optics Magazine

The Austrian ambassador said during a conference at the New Europe Institute that the Three Seas Initiative does not matter, in fact it does not even exist. Is it really?

Dr Filip Ludwin: I do not share the Ambassador’s position. In recent years, we have observed a number of international political and diplomatic activities aimed at promoting the Three Seas Initiative. Of course, this is not an easy task, it requires many efforts over the years, but the very presence of the Three Seas Initiative concept in diplomatic circulation and Polish foreign policy is proof that this concept really exists.

According to the diplomat I mentioned, in order for the Three Seas Initiative to function, all European institutions should be acquired for this purpose. Is it really? Does the Three Seas Initiative really need lobbying in Brussels? Why?

In my opinion, the involvement of the European Union institutions is not necessary, although it could be helpful. Regional cooperation and integration can take place only at the will of the interested countries of the region. The European Union is not the only known form of integration in Europe and this should be remembered. It should also be remembered that the Three Seas Initiative, as well as a possible future regional organization, are not oriented against the European Union, but are intended to complement it in the regional dimension.

There are voices that the Three Seas Initiative works great during the summits of the Three Seas countries, and worse outside of them. Would the creation of basic institutions, including the secretariat, improve the whole project? If so, where should such a secretariat be located?

Yes, undoubtedly, the creation of institutionalized forms of international cooperation in the region of Central and Eastern Europe would bring significant benefits to the development of the Three Seas Initiative concept. In my opinion, this European macro-region needs a separate regional international organization and not just a minor agency or office. Such an organization could be modeled on, for example, the Nordic Council. The seat of the organization should be in Warsaw, because Poland is the main initiator of activities promoting the Three Seas Initiative.

What speaks for the creation of the secretariat of the Three Seas Initiative, and what against?

The main argument “for” is the possibility of using the potential of cooperation of countries with similar historical experiences and currently facing similar economic and social problems. This common experience is currently not used to such an extent as to develop joint projects aimed at solving common or at least similar difficulties. I can’t find any arguments against it.

There are demands to look at the Three Seas Initiative in a global context and to develop it in this direction, reaching as far as Asia and Africa with connections, as e.g. potential sources of natural resources. How do you evaluate such a concept? How realistic is its implementation?

It seems to me that we should start with smaller activities, aimed primarily at strengthening economic and political cooperation as well as scientific, academic and cultural exchange between the countries of the region, and then look for possible partners from outside Europe. And so there are many barriers to be overcome and problems to be solved between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It is better to practice the “policy of small steps”, but consistently and constantly.

What impact does the ongoing war in Ukraine have on the development of the Three Seas Initiative?

I think that the war in Ukraine shows that the countries on the eastern flank of the European Union have a particularly significant and important reason to look for additional forms of cooperation and regional integration in order to be able to better secure their vital interests, for example in the field of economic, energy or infrastructural security.

What are the main challenges facing the Three Seas Initiative at present?

On the one hand, it is necessary to develop a common position on the war in Ukraine, and on the other hand, a common position on the development of the European Union towards a federal superstate.

What are the main obstacles to the development of the Three Seas Initiative?

One of the main problems are the historical events that unfortunately divide many countries in the region. The challenge is to find the answer, how to overcome them, how to find compromises above the divisions and often divergent interests of individual countries.

Collegium Intermarium, of which you are the vice-rector, together with the Institute of Schuman’s Thought, creates a group of think-tanks aimed at creating a strong intellectual base for the development of the Three Seas Initiative. What actions are you taking? What are the first main conclusions from your work?

The first planned action is to organize an international scientific conference in Poland at the end of 2023, bringing together researchers from most countries in the region. The main theme of the conference is to be the question of the legitimacy of establishing a new regional international organization.

What roles should NGOs play in the Three Seas Initiative? What is their place in the entire structure of the Three Seas Initiative? Is there a need to integrate such organizations, for example the integration of think-tanks dealing with the Three Seas Initiative, and how do you imagine it?

Of course, this kind of cooperation is needed. Regional integration cannot only have a political or diplomatic dimension, but must take place on the scale of regions, local, self-government, non-governmental communities, etc. It is important to get to know each other’s culture, customs, customs and languages of the countries that make up the Three Seas Initiative. In the first place, this process should probably be dominated by those non-governmental organizations that deal with analytical, research, popularization or popular science work. This should be a source of impulses for further actions taken by other organizations or institutions of the “third sector”.

Is it possible to build common hubs, e.g. food hubs for the entire Three Seas Initiative, and do they have a chance to appear on markets such as India or China?

I am not a specialist in economic matters, so it is difficult for me to answer this question.

Will the power of our common, Three-Seas countries, voice be really heard or will we face stagnation, as in the case of, for example, the Weimar Triangle? How to arrange cooperation in the Three Seas Initiative to make it dynamic and real?

In my opinion, it will depend primarily on whether the Three Seas Initiative will take the form of an institutionalized form of international cooperation. Only a regional international organization will make it possible to actually work out a common position of the states of the region and to cooperate permanently and effectively.

Dr Ludwin

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