With US President Donald Trump’s visit in Poland, the brand of the Three Seas Initiative gained international reputation. In Poland where the roots of the initiative began, the Three Seas or – as one can Latinise it, Trimarium – initiative is often confused with the historical project of Intermarium, intuitively understood by many. Not only journalists but also politicians and even public officials contribute to the confusion. Well, they are wrong.
Last August in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the heads of 12 states signed the “Three Seas Declaration”. Its aim is to strengthen the economic and infrastructural ties between the member states. The signatories represent: the four countries of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia), the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) together with Austria, Romania, Bulgaria and two Adriatic countries: Croatia and Slovenia. All 12 countries concerned are members of the European Union.
The initiative should be regarded as a great diplomatic success of the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, and his advisor for international affairs, Krzysztof Szczerski. Prof. Szczerski is a political scientist who graduated from the same Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Duda is an alum there as well).
The outline of the Trimarium idea can be found in a book by Krzysztof Szczerski published this year under the quite adventurous title: The European Utopia: Integration Crisis and Polish Initiative of Remedy. The author describes the crisis currently touching the institutional and ideological dimensions of the EU. In a straightforward manner he develops the diagnosis and discusses possible remedies. The map of the historical Intermarium has been included into the chapter of the book where the Three Seas Initiative is presented.
It shows the central belt of the European continent with the countries from Finland in the north to Greece and Albania in the south, none of them touched by Stalin’s territorial annexations of the 1940s. The borderline of the current Trimarium Initiative follows the eastern border of the European Union (around 300 km to the west comparing to the Intermarium eastern reach) and strengthens its run as stated in the set of Stalin’s agreements with Hitler from 1939-1940.
Neither Finland, Greece nor Albania expressed interested in or was invited to the current Trimarium project. What’s yet more surprising is the access of the cautious Austria. If Austria decided to take join, then the geopolitical audacity of the project has had to be as significant as something of a Liechtenstein level.
Polish journalists and politicians, including the minister of national defense, while confusing the current, Liechtenstein-level project with the historical Intermarium audacity, wrongly interpret this. It was the presidential adviser Szczerski himself who stated clearly in a recent TV debate.
First, the Trimarium remains a purely economic project of mutual co-operation, it has no geopolitical connotations that would associate it with the historical Intermarium
Second, the Trimarium gathers exclusively member states of the European Union, even if “there were various submissions” Szczerski affirms. One should think about Ukraine first and foremost. Its absence within the initiative is telling.
Dariusz Góra-Szopiński chairs the department of regional strategic studies at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University of Warsaw, Poland.
This text is part of the series titled: “Intermarium in the 21st century” based on the conference held on July 6-7 2017, Lazarski University in Warsaw.
* The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at :/http://neweasterneurope.eu
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