Three Seas Initiative
Latvia’s Perspective on the Three-Seas-Initiative
The Baltic country is a dedicated supporter of the Three-Seas-Initiative. Recently, Latvia joined the initiative’s investment fund and hosted the initiative’s Summit 2022 in Riga. Latvia expects the initiative to provide valuable economic benefits by boosting regional interconnectedness and thus economic development in its member states. While the core nature of the Three-Seas-Initiative is indeed economic, Latvia also considers the initiative an important geopolitical tool, especially for its national security vis-à-vis Russia. As a Baltic state, Latvia is scarred by its Russian past and still vulnerable to Russian aggression. According to Latvia, the Three-Seas-Initiative offers an excellent opportunity to improve national security by strengthening transatlantic ties and deepening European integration. Convinced of the initiative’s economic and geopolitical benefits, Latvia is determined to contribute to its success.
Pushing the Initiative Forward
Like its Baltic neighbors, Latvia shows great interest in the Three-Seas-Initiative and can be considered one of its leading figures. Latvia is aware of the lack of infrastructure in the region and how this hampers economic growth. The country believes that improving transport, energy and digital infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe is a precondition for economic development, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating economic consequences. Consequently, Latvia expresses its commitment to the initiative and its willingness to contribute to the initiative’s expansion. It demonstrated this commitment by hosting the 2022 Summit in Riga.
The priorities of the 2022 Summit were digitalization and attracting investors’ interest in the initiative. Latvia has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the investment fund of the initiative and its crucial role for the realization of concrete infrastructure projects. This investment fund relies on both public and private funding, albeit private funding is still largely lacking. Latvia aspires to change that and hence focuses its efforts on attracting more private investors. For this to be successful, the planned infrastructure projects of the initiative have to be profitable, otherwise private investors will not invest. Latvia is aware of this and tries to raise similar awareness among its fellow member states. The Baltic country stresses that the initiative is both a commercial and political project.
While the Three-Seas-Initiative offers a great opportunity to boost economic growth, the initiative also enables Latvia to translate its national interests to an international level. In other words, the initiative provides Latvia with valuable leverage at the international level. It helps Latvia build strategic coalitions with fellow members and use those as leverage internationally, even within the EU. However, this does not mean that Latvia prioritizes the initiative over other existing institutions, such as the EU - quite the opposite, for Latvia, it is of utmost importance that the initiative operates in conformity with the European Union. In addition to promoting economic development and energy supply security, the initiative is supposed to strengthen unity in Europe.
Strengthening Western Partnerships
With the help of the Three-Seas-Initiative, Latvia aims to strengthen its ties with the EU, Germany and the US, all of which it considers crucial for its national economic and political security. The Baltic state advocates those states’ increased involvement in the initiative. Latvia identifies them as core strategic partners and is convinced that their contribution to the initiative would be crucial for the successful execution of concrete infrastructure projects. Furthermore, Latvia wants to smooth and eliminate the initial tension between the initiative and Germany. According to Latvia, the Three-Seas-Initiative must not become a rival to Germany or the entire EU by amplifying the East-West division in Europe.
On the contrary, like its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia wishes to deepen its integration in the EU and strengthen its strategic partnerships with Western states in the long run. Strengthening transatlantic relations with the US by extending cooperation between the super power and the European initiative, would be particularly welcomed by Latvia. The Baltic state believes that this would boost economic growth in the region and deter Russian aggression.
About the Author
Valerie Kornis completed an internship at the Central Europe and Baltic States Project Office. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University in The Netherlands and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po in Paris.