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Thank you very much for the invitation to this year´s Summit of the Three Seas Initiative. The participation of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the official dinner yesterday highlighted Germany’s commitment to the initiative and the progress we are making towards full fledged participation. I am delighted to join you in order to underline Germany’s interest in 3SI.
My special thanks go to President Borut Pahor and to our host country Slovenia for driving this initiative forward and for including Germany in the Sherpa process to this summit. This has put us in a better position to support the initiative. We share the objective to reinforcing cohesion and connectivity and to focus on issues of practical importance for security and welfare in Central and Eastern Europe.
Germany fully subscribes to the three pillars that President Pahor described so convincingly in the invitation letter to the summit: Economic Development, European cohesion and Transatlantic Ties.
What is Germany´s contribution to 3SI?
Germany fits in - in every regard - geographically, historically, politically, economically: we are a Baltic rim country sharing the history of both parts, Eastern and Western Europe. Five of our 16 Länder were part of the Eastern block and have been going through transformation. We are aware of the challenges to people’s lives.
Maintaining close political links with the region and each and every one of the 3SI states, Germany is able to produce additional dynamics for the initiative.
Germany is a key economic partner for each of the 3SI members. Strengthening our bilateral and our regional cooperation will foster growth, cohesion and convergence in Central Europe.
European connectivity takes center stage for Germany. To create synergies, for example with the EU strategy on connectivity between Europe and Asia, we should build on established EU instruments in transport, energy and communication to make connectivity a reality. The European Commission has proposed 42 bn € in the next EU Budget 2020 – 27 for connectivity projects only, including more than 30 bn € for transportation. I am therefore confident that the European Union’s next Financial Framework could provide many of the projects on the 3SI priority list with the necessary boost. This makes it all the more important that the 3SI Fund will operate in a way compatible with existing EU rules. I am sure the European Commission stands ready to provide advice in that regard.
Within this context, I am particularly glad to see President Juncker here today, a key promotor of EU coherence and unity. You have emphasized time and again that in the face of external challenges our continent is facing, Europe must act as one. I agree with you, a unified European Union is essential – also to contain Russia.
Germany is getting more and more involved in 3SI. Let me highlight some points:
This year, for the first time, Germany actively participates in the 3SI Business Forum. Some key German stakeholders on infrastructure and energy are present today like Deutsche Bahn, Siemens, SAP or Airbus. We are ready to engage with the next 3SI presidency in order to deepen our cooperation in this direction.
Last year we hosted a meeting of stakeholders to explore how to generate synergies between the EU-connectivity strategy and 3SI-connectivity goals.
Germany will continue to pursue the so-called “Berlin process” with the participation of 3SI-members. The objective is to stabilize the Western Balkans through a credible European and transatlantic perspective, through regional cooperation and connectivity as well as by intensifying mutual exchange especially between young people. The Poznan Summit next month following-up the “Berlin process” is set to produce important results for a more stable and secure Southeast Europe.
Let me conclude with a remark regarding today’s Summit Declaration. If we want to contribute to EU unity, we should send clear signals in support of European cohesion, European values and the EU’s strategic agenda. My impression is that this was the case here. Thank you very much.