In the history of most countries, opportunities such as the Intermarium (also called The Three Seas Initiative) have not cropped up often. In fact, very rarely.
There are a lot of great things to say about Poland at the moment. As we know from the history books, it has not always been easy for Poland being placed right in between two superpowers, but following the World War II and certainly following the fall of the Soviet Union, Poland has turned this disadvantageous position into a motivator. Poland is expanding and improving in virtually all areas.
Poland on its own is too small to play an important role on the international arena but Poland integrated economically with other countries from the CEE region plus the support of the United States for this project - this is something new and it could be a grand slam. This historic chance puts Poland in the geostrategic centre and can only be compared to the project of 1569 when the Union of Lublin gave rise to the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, one of the most powerful states in Europe.
What is Intermarium?
Intermarium is an initiative of economic integration of the CEE countries which are spread between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas. It gathers 12 countries, including Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania to mention the most important ones. All of them (except for Austria) are former communist countries whose economies and infrastructure are still developing. Together, they form a market of 105 million people, making it particularly attractive for private investors. Poland is the biggest and most important of the member states due to its continuous growth and geostrategic location. Norway, Sweden and Turkey are also often considered part of the group as they naturally belong to either the Baltic, Black or Adriatic Sea.
The initiative held its first summit in Croatia in 2016. The summit ended with a declaration of co-operation in economic matters, particularly in the field of energy as well as transport and communications infrastructure. Polish President Andrzej Duda called the initiative “a new concept to promote Europe's unity and cohesion”. The initiative's second summit was held on 6th July 2017 in Warsaw. US President Donald Trump attended the summit in Warsaw and fully endorsed the initiative. During the meeting in Warsaw, President Trump declared the United States' intention to supply LNG to Poland and other CEE countries in order to support their energy independence.
The accession of the CEE countries to NATO and the EU contributed to the security and stability of the whole region. However, these countries now face new challenges. The main challenge is to overcome Europe's divided infrastructure which is focused on the development of the East-West axis. The oil and gas pipelines that deliver Russian energy to Europe serve sometimes as tools of political pressure. After joining the EU, the countries between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas, have so far focused on building infrastructure, including roads and rail services, leading towards the Western EU countries (partly due to Germany's economic dominance), neglecting the regional infrastructure going through north to south among the countries. Now it is time to change it and make up for the lost time. The project aims to develop better connections along the north-south axis in the sectors of energy, transport and digital communications in order to complete the single European market. Poland is expected to play a vital role in it.
Intermarium will not be an easy undertaking. It requires new thinking and co-operation between the elites. The most important reality in energy in the world now is that the United States is a net exporter of oil and natural gas and this will increase. This represents a direct threat to the interests of other oil exporters like Russia. Germany also does not want to become more dependent on the United States for natural gas. They want to keep the balance between the Russians and the Americans. Delivering natural gas to Poland and establishing a solid network of CEE countries on the north-south axis will be a game-changer. In this way, Poland has a great chance of becoming a regional powerbroker, with the prospect of playing an important role on the international arena.
Donald Trump's visit to Warsaw on 6th July 2017 and his meeting with regional leaders was the first step towards improving trade, infrastructure and energy links among the 12 nations between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas. Trump's presence in Poland showed how important this project is for the United States. Stable Poland and stable Intermarium translate to stability of the whole region.
Whether the Intermarium project will work or not – it is too early to say. So far, things are going into a right direction. On 13th December 2017 the Poland's second-biggest oil refiner Lotos signed an agreement to receive at least five crude oil shipments from the United States in 2018. “These shipments are a part of a bigger plan to reduce reliance on Russian supplies” – the company said in its statement.
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