Mariusz
Babula

POLAND
Vice-President of the Management Board and shareholder of Zortrax S.A., a renowned 3D printing solutions manufacturer from Poland.

Mariusz Babula is a shareholder and member of the management board of Zortrax S.A., a renowned 3D printing solutions manufacturer from Poland. New technology enthusiast, strategist, and skilled negotiator. With years of experience in companies of global reach, he has extensive knowledge of banking, financial and technological sectors. His career path includes being the Head of Investor Relations and the Head of Communication in Ciech S.A. For over four years, Mariusz Babula has been a part of Zortrax S.A. management, first as the Head of Inventors Relations and, until June 2021, as the Vice President. This year, he became a Supervisory Board member at Zortrax Dental, a company manufacturing 3D printing solutions for digital dentistry

“The Startup Valleys: How Three Seas Companies Enter Global Markets” more
Read the talk (open)

Good afternoon, my name is Mariusz Babula, I’m the CEO and shareholder of Zortrax, a Polish manufacturer of 3D printers.

Today I have the great pleasure to present our story. I’ll start with a short, historical background.

Next, I’ll talk about our path from a local start-up to a globally recognized manufacturer of 3D printers and at the end I’ll talk about the factors that brought us here, to the place where we are right now and maybe that can serve as some kind of a lesson for us, for the Three Seas Initiative.

The last century was particularly difficult for our region. World wars, especially World War II where for example Poland lost one fifth of its population, many cities were destroyed.

Warsaw, where we are today, was completely destroyed. Next, there were the times of the communist regimes which divided Europe into two completely different worlds and after that we had a very turbulent transformation from a socialist system to a capitalist system.

There was a lack of basic products, problems with hyper-inflation, there wasn’t a good environment for entrepreneurs, we had many problems with civil rights and hostility from the government toward entrepreneurs, but yet we managed to transform into a capitalist economy. We have introduced some free market mechanisms, inflation decreased, and Polish companies are doing quite well on the global market right now.

We are still working on decreasing the technological gap between Poland and western economies. In 2016 we spent some 0.97% on the Polish GDP on research and development, just 3 years later we were spending 1.32% of Polish GDP, even though Polish GDP has increased, we still have much to do, because the EU average is on the level of 2.2% of GDP, however this growth that we have is very promising and those are maybe not the perfect conditions for tech companies, but it’s a good start.

Our story starts in 2011, but the history of 3D printing technology is much longer. The first 3D printer was created in the 1980s, but even in the beginning of the 21st century it was still a novelty, especially in Europe.

The market was divided into 2 segments: the first segment with enormous, extremely expensive, industrial 3D printers and the segment of small desktop 3D printers 'Do It Yourself’ constructions called RepRaps that were built by hobbyists for hobbyists.

The first ones, those industrial 3D printers were way too expensive for small and medium businesses, and those small RepRap constructions weren’t good enough for such professional applications and that was the void that we wanted to fill.

After 2 years of hard work, we’ve created our first 3D printer and M200. Being a hardware manufacturing company is quite difficult because R&D expenses are only the start, you have to have a lot of money to start manufacturing on a full scale. We chose a quite unusual way at that time, because we chose Kickstarter.

Kickstarter was very popular back then in the United States, quite popular in Western Europe, but almost completely unknown in Poland. Zortrax was the first Polish company to start a Kickstarter campaign.

We managed to raise 180 000 dollars during the campaign. This was an amount that was just enough to cover two months of operation, so we had to raise more capital and in 2013 Zortrax became a private limited company.

We issued corporate bonds and issued shares and thanks to private investors who bought those bonds and shares, we were able to start full scale manufacturing of our 3D printers.

Our 3D printer was awarded many times because of how easy it is to use, its reliability and for being an affordable 3D printer.

It was one of the first 3D printers in the world 3D that was available to the wider community. We still have the same view on our products, however our offer now consists of many more printers,

We do not only have 3D printers that are capable of printing with thermoplastics, so called FDM 3D printers, but also resin 3D printers that are able to print with liquid resin. We also have many external devices in our offer that are used in post-processing of 3D prints.

Our devices are used by very well-known players on the global market, I’m especially proud of our collaboration with NASA. Our 3D printers are used at the NASA Johnson Space Centre.

They are used to prototype parts of lunar landers, parts of the space station. We also cooperate with universities, especially medical universities, our printers are used during education of new medics, but also during preparations for surgeries, like a heart surgery for example, you can print a model of a heart and prepare for the heart surgery.

Last year, we released our first industrial 3D printer, which is capable of printing with the use of more sophisticated materials that can be used for example in the aerospace industry, and last year thanks to that 3D printer, we conducted, in cooperation with the European Space Agency, ground-breaking research.

Our 3D printer was able to print with the use of special polymers which are capable of conducting electricity, in such 3D prints. What’s more, such materials are also resistant to cosmic radiation, so they can be used in producing satellites, spacecrafts and so on.

We are not slowing down, this year we’re going to release our first dental 3D printer which is capable of printing tooth implants, orthodontic braces, surgical guides and so on.

We are now a public-listed company, we are listed on New Connect, on the Warsaw Stock Exchange for tech companies and we are not slowing down.

What brought us here? Unfortunately, I think it’s a mixture of bravery and luck, luck – because some of the decisions that we made would not be possible to do right now.

For example, issuing bonds, corporate bonds are practically impossible right now due to changes in the legal system.

Bravery – because I think you have to be brave to start a company in one of the poorest regions of Poland and dream about reaching the stars.

Thanks to our cooperation with NASA and ESA, we are literally reaching the stars right now. You have to care for your employees, because without those innovative minds we wouldn’t be in the place we are right now, and you have to constantly focus on innovations, because in such a fast-growing market, without innovations you will simply lose.

What can we learn from our history? I’m not sure. I think that we need to create an innovation-friendly environment to have more tech companies like ours.

We have a lot of innovative people, we have to support young people who are willing to change the world.

We have to support out of the box thinking and by creating such an environment we can change the world. Thank you.

Jacek
Bartosiak

POLAND
PhD., CEO and Founder of Strategy&Future. Author of best-selling books, including Pacific and Eurasia: On War.

Author of best-selling books, including “Pacyfik i Eurazja. O Wojnie” (Pacific and Eurasia. On War” (2016), which focuses on the ongoing great power competition in Eurasia and the possible war in the Western Pacific, as well as – ”Rzeczpospolita między Lądem a Morzem. O wojnie i pokoju.” (Poland and Intermarium between the Land and the Sea Powers – (2018), which deals with the geostrategic reality Poland and Europe face in the era of great power competition, and is an in-depth study of the Central Eastern European theatre of war and modern warfare.

A Senior Fellow at the Potomac Foundation in Washington DC, Director of Wargaming & Simulations Program at the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, co-founder of PlayofBattle – a wargaming and simulation games studio. Jacek is also a contributor at Nowa Konfederacja, and at New Generation Warfare Center in Washington DC. Dr. Bartosiak is a former (2018–2019) CEO of Solidarity Transport Hub – the largest infrastructure project in Poland’s history; and an advisor to the Government plenipotentiary for the Solidarity Transport Hub (2017–2018). Jacek is a graduate of the Law and Public Administration Faculty of Warsaw University and an attorney, specializing in corporate, business and financial law and Managing Partner of Warsaw based law office since 2004.

As a renowned expert on geopolitics, Jacek has been a leading voice in the debate on the strategic reality of Central Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Western Pacific, factors affecting the geopolitical realities, and has participated in countless conferences and speaking engagements in Poland and worldwide.

“Conditions needed for three seas success by 2050” more
Read the talk (open)

Hello. Let me start by asking a few questions about the Three Seas Initiative, because I was supposed to speak about the conditions for success for Three Seas Initiative by 2050, which is a long shot from today, which makes it very difficult, but my most beloved strategic thinker of the English tongue was Colin Gray. He used to claim that strategy is all about asking questions, so I’ll start by asking questions.

I’ll not be able to answer all of those questions, but at least they will drive us closer to understanding the realities of the Three Seas Initiative.

So, first of all, is the Three Seas Initiative a grouping of nations that were the orphans of the Great Ocean Discoveries, the World Ocean Discoveries, and that were simply omitted in this great pursuit of wealth and power stemming from the connectivity with the world ocean, which the Western Europeans enjoyed?

Some in the West claim that this is exactly so. Is it maybe so that it’s a group of countries which emerged after the First World War, where the great empires collapsed? The Habsburg Empire, The Hohenzollern German Empire and the Russian Empire. They all collapsed, and suddenly multiple nations emerged.

The politicians from those empires, especially the Russians and Germans, used to be very sceptical about the future of those nations on the international arena. Some of them even called them the bastards of the Versailles Treaty, you know, seasonal states or even worse sometimes. But there were even remarkable American strategists like George Kennan, who I think was mentioned today, at least once. This at least was what it seemed to me.

He was not very happy when he was describing the imbalances on the international arena following the First World War, calling all those countries the remnants of mostly the Habsburg Empire.

So, as you can see the cycle of history sometimes repeats itself in a very peculiar way, because all this grouping of nations creates a disruption among those who were running the world for the last 200 years. People don’t like changes. On this historic note, I’ll add one more thing: following the Second World War, most of these countries that are within the Three Seas Initiative, were more or less within the sort of the tender touch of the Soviet Continental Empire. With of course all of the formalities in place that their national flags existed, the capitals existed, the governments existed, but foreign policy didn’t exist, maybe with the exception of Yugoslavia.

So this is a grouping of countries, that the great powers of the world that we know, are not used to seeing, knowing and understanding. And this is the impediment number one, that will have to be overcome before we reach 2050.

The consequence of everything I just said is the fact, that because all of those countries, more or less were not running their own policy for the last 200 years, which means that, roughly speaking,  they didn’t decide about their own development, connectivity, how they build roads or highways, or ports, but external empires were making those decisions, so connectivity sucks within the Three Seas. There is a huge gap – or let’s put it this way – geopoliticians like to say: imbalance. There is a huge imbalance between Western Europe and the Three Seas group.

One could even argue that this imbalance also exists between the Russian Empire and this grouping, because the Russian Empire, also being excluded from the spoils of the Great World Ocean Revolution, but the Tsars ruled in that country and then the communists as well, and they were trying to modernise – this way or another – by having a centralised power, which we didn’t have for the reasons that I outlined before.

So, what is the future now? We all thought that the future would only be bright. We all entered the European Union, most of us entered NATO, and the future was supposed to be beautiful and sunny.  Suddenly, with the great power competition back in town between the U.S. and China, with some role played by Russia, maybe some role played by Europe, or whatever we call Europe, it again turns out that this part of the world might be a battlefield of the influences of empires, depending on how we play the game.

Five years ago, when some people in Poland realized that this was coming, we thought that – okay, we need to play the game well, let’s read Halford Mackinder again, because Mackinder, if he would have been alive today, would have been very happy to see the Three Seas Initiative in the making.

I also think, that theoretically speaking, on the level of support, the sea powers of this world – The United Kingdom and the United States, are supporting the Three Seas Initiative, because this is a very useful and handy instrument of influencing the balance of power in Europe,  in case there is some favourable consolidation of the European peninsula against the interests of the sea-powers. So, we were thinking about how to use it, how to use this mental map? You know, to modernise the country, to create this sort of power to move forward.

We were also thinking about which arguments to use to explain that there needs to be a Three Seas Initiative, because there is another phenomenon happening in Europe, which is sort of natural, but human made.

The German economy is a monster. They are so great and competent in what they do, just like Amazon in the United States now. That they tend to sort of devour and influence the neighbourhood.

And it happens because they are so proficient in what they’re doing. They create the supply chains, value chains, division of labour, all in line with the interests of the German economy.

How it is connected via infrastructure, highly influences the yields, you know, the division of profits of labour and so on, without the need to go into further details, I hope you all understand what I mean.

So, at that time, five years ago we were thinking on how to sort of create a new energy, new momentum, to try to divert from this one-way ticket. How to create connectivity between north and south, how to bundle up with the American interest, how to influence the European peninsula, how to create, you know, from this, how to use all those phenomena to create something new called the Three Seas Initiative.

There was a third factor that seemed to be important five or six years ago and it remains so, but I see it from a different perspective now. China, the rise of China and the Belt and Road Initiative.

We still need to remember what Mackinder was saying about connectivity across the landmasses of Eurasia.

Without going into details, maybe during the Q&A session you’ll have such questions, we were taking a look at the map and we were seeing, that if China wanted to connect to Europe and connect both ends of Eurasia, the most productive lands of Eurasia being Europe and China, the roads pass through the Three Seas Initiative and then in particular through Poland and Romania. This is geography. And how can we leverage this situation to sort of enhance our position within the current structure of international affairs?

We wanted to do all this! At that time, we were thinking that we could create a golden solution.

The last question. But still it was not perfect, because if you’re thinking about the Grand Strategy of Poland, you need to remember about Ukraine and Belarus.

Our buffer zone, our brethren in the East, that either grant us safety, or they don’t exist.  Actually, you cannot develop anything because Russia becomes a party of the great power system in Europe, and it influences the balance in Europe and your agenda is gone – and this is what is happening now by the way.

So, we wanted to do all this at once and Three Seas was in accordance with this sort of thinking. That wasn’t in line with our ancient geopolitical thought, especially the one designed by Tadeusz Romer more than 100 years ago.

But moving with the signs, right now, today, we are in the situation where there is a great power competition in Eurasia; everybody understands what the rise of China means now.

There is a great competition over connectivity; there is a full understanding today now, which was not clear 5 years ago, what connectivity means for the division of labour and value chains all across Eurasia and around Eurasia.

There is an enhanced sensitivity of old players, including Western Europeans, which don’t like the Three Seas Initiative too much, although they don’t like to say it openly, because nobody wants a change to the balance of power and the Three Seas Initiative might change the balance of power.

That’s why all those tensions that we can see today… I was thinking, and we were thinking 5 years ago – that the Three Seas Initiative would be a perfect vehicle for U.S. soft power projection – energy, money, technology.

What a brilliant idea it would have been if the Americans had really paid this money and had contributed, but they didn’t do it to the extent it was required to really move the project forward before the great power competition in Eurasia really launched.

Now, it’s very difficult. Now there’s this feeling that the future of the Three Seas Initiative, especially in reference to what Germany thinks about it, what the German role in it would be, so questions abound.

Today there are even more questions than they were five years ago. It’s difficult to talk about the conditions for success in 2050, so let me sum up before I move to the Q&A session, which I promised to the organizers, by saying the following: the perfect scenario for my country and I hope the neighbouring countries.

The United States is back for real, not for empty talk, and contributes with money and technology to the Three Seas. Europeans understand that Europe has to consolidate and to create a new balance. Technology and infrastructure is the name of the game, especially when you are confronting China and that is coming.

You need to create a strong belt of countries that are not periferia to the core in order to be successful, because Europe is not an island.

And last but not least for me as a Pole: for the Three Seas to succeed, Russia must be out of the balancing system of Europe, because the primary objective of Russian Grand Strategy since Peter the Great,  has been to enter the European balancing system and in order to balance the system and to reap modernisation, it has to create a situation in which all of those countries in Central and Eastern Europe are only a belt of stability, and not necessarily development.

So, this is the reality that, in my personal opinion, we are facing and we will see whether we will live up to understanding and to face this challenge properly. Thank you.

David
Brazsil

HUNGARY
Secretary General at the National Council of the Wine Communities Hungary.

Ian J.
Brzezinski

USA
Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy.

Ian J. Brzezinski leads the Brzezinski Group, a strategic advisory services firm. He serves as a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and Brent Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security. He brings over three decades of experience in U.S. national security matters having served in senior policy positions in the Department of Defense and the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Brzezinski served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy (2001–5).  His office formulated, coordinated and executed bilateral and regional engagement strategies and defense guidance with the Joint Staff, Unified Combatant Commands and Department of Defense elements.  His lead responsibilities included NATO expansion, Alliance force planning and transformation and NATO operations in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Afghanistan and Iraq.  Key highlights of his tenure include the expansion of NATO membership in 2004, the consolidation and reconfiguration of the Alliance’s command structure, the standing up of the NATO Response Force and the coordination of European military contributions to U.S. and NATO- led operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

Mr. Brzezinski served for seven years on Capitol Hill, first as a Legislative Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Bill Roth, (1995–2000) and then as a Senior Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (2000–1).  In these capacities, he drafted and implemented legislative initiatives and strategies concerning U.S. interests in Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia.  As the staff coordinator of the Senate NATO Observer Group, he facilitated coordination and communication between the U.S. Senate and the executive branch on NATO enlargement, NATO operations in the Balkans and Alliance force modernization among other issues.

Mr. Brzezinski served as a volunteer in Ukraine (1993-94) where he advised the Ukrainian National Security Council, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and Parliament.  He served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff in the Department of Defense (1991–93), a Consultant to the Center for Naval Analysis (1991–92) and a Support Analyst/Information Assistant at the National Security Council (1986–7).

For his public service, Ian Brzezinski has been awarded the U.S> Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service; the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gedimas; the Latvian Ministry of Defense Award; the Romanian Medal for National Service, Order of Commander; the Order of Merit, Republic of Poland, Officer Class; and, Estonia’s Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 5th class.

Mr. Brzezinski worked for five years a Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. providing policy and technical support to U.S. combatant commands and foreign clients.

Beata
Daszyńska–Muzyczka

POLAND
President of the Management Board of Poland’s State Development Bank, Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund.

President of the Management Board of Polish State Development Bank, chairman of the supervisory board of the Three Seas Fund. Member of the Council of the President of the Republic of Poland for International Policy. Graduate of economic universities: Advanced Leadership Program/ICAN Institute at Harvard Business Review, University of Cambridge.

“The 3W” concept of sustainable development more
Read the talk (open)

As you can see, with technology, technical problems appear during all of the conferences, so it depends on us how we fight with technology, because everything depends on our heads, not the technology.

Let me start with my thoughts on new technology, but I was wondering how to start my speech.

What is freedom for us?

How can we develop without our freedom?

What is freedom – not only freedom of all the nations globally, but the freedom of our mind?

How can we be creative without freedom? How can we build new ideas without freedom? It is impossible.

What I was wondering: all generations, older and younger generations, have always argued.

We often repeat after our parents: “Oh my God, this young generation, it is hopeless, what can they achieve? How will they survive?”

And we’ve heard the same, all the people in this room heard the same. Because parents are always thinking about their children and this is what we sometimes don’t believe to be possible to achieve because we are older, we are smarter, we are more advanced in our thinking, but the world depends on the next generation.

Only the young generation can move the world, move countries, move smaller societies into the future!

Without the young generation it won’t be possible. As you saw on these slides from the Minister from Bulgaria, who was young, when he fought for our freedom, who wanted to change our life – and now it’s the time for us!

Because it’s only the next generation that can change this world.

What is your aspiration? What is your ambition? How can you inspire each other to find new breakthrough ideas?

How old was Alexander the Great when he died, after having conquered almost all of the world? 33 years old. Today we are thinking – he was quite young.

It is a huge challenge for all of us, how do we want to build the next technology, the next generation, based on freedom and only through connectivity, not only by roads, rail, but how we connect our minds to build new ideas which allow us to move and move forward.

Do you know this rather old movie “Apollo 13”? Perhaps some of you might know this movie.

Could you imagine the very advanced technology at that time was less advanced than we now have in our mobile phones?

And when the people on Apollo 13 try to survive and come back to our globe, who supported them?

What was the success of Apollo 13? The small, advanced technology, smaller than in our mobile phones? No. The heads, communication, and smartness of people.

Everything depends on us. The internet was the biggest game changer in our world. It changed everything: communication, business, and many, many areas of our lives.

It is probably impossible to imagine right now that in one moment the internet could disappear.

We’re already a bit afraid when we see that something is happening with our mobile phones!

Every single minute we check our mobile phones – that’s because of the internet.

In 1999, when every single programmer started to think that something was wrong with our computers; we were thinking too slowly, short-term, because the 2000s appeared immediately and the computers were prepared only for 2 digits in one year.

It was a huge challenge for every single company, especially power plants, to avoid switching off the entire world from electricity.

So, we have to think in a longer run, longer perspective.

I know, for the young people, they might think “Why do I have to think about the long run? Tomorrow, I will have a very nice party, I have this very nice plan for the holidays, so this is my life,” but the aspirations for the long run, the communication and the connections between the young generation can build something additional for the future, and everything depends on you. Not only from your hands, but everything is in your heads.

We are thinking about the next challenges in technology right now. The internet was one point, and now we’re thinking what the next step would be, what will be the big challenge for the future and which technology will be the main thing of the world.

What types of challenges do we have in our world? Water, new energy sources like hydrogen and carbon. Everybody has focused on how to reduce the world’s use of carbon.

Can you imagine that carbon is everywhere? Our clothes, our food – everywhere! We even use a specific type of carbon to calculate how old dinosaur fossils are for instance. Carbon, water, and hydrogen are the main industry assets, as they are cornerstones for our life.

That’s why we want to focus on these three very important aspects.

Water – how much land is there globally compared to water?

29% is land. The rest is water.

But how much of this water can we use as fresh water for our life, for 8 billion people around the world? Only 1%.

Only 1% of water globally is the type of water that we can use to sustain our lives.

It is a huge challenge and a huge responsibility. How will we use this water?

What is retention and other techniques that we can use to reuse the same water many times?

Many of you might remember the movie – I think only about old movies, I’m sorry for that – “Mad Max”.

“Mad Max” was a movie about fights between troops about petrol, fuel.

Nowadays we can observe the fight between people, in Bolivia for instance, about water.

If we don’t find a quick and better solution on how to manage water for people, it won’t be possible to survive. Even fantastic ideas disappear without water.

Hydrogen is the fuel of the future. You probably already heard about it from many places, everybody is talking right now about hydrogen.

It is the future of energy, especially if we’re thinking about green energy, renewable sources of energy, and hydrogen is the new source of energy.

How will we use this? How well can we… thinking about the new technology, which can help us to use hydrogen.

It will be better for our life, it will be easier to survive and maybe even combine water and new sources of energy, like hydrogen, can help us to use water by using engines based on hydrogen.

And now third: carbon. In Poland, we have the same word “węgiel”, which we use for both, coal and carbon.

So, in many places when we start to talk about carbon, coal or “węgiel” in the Polish language, some people might say: why do you organize this type of conference about coal?

They say, “we have to reduce coal, we have to reduce carbon, low emissions” and so on, and so on. No!

Because we don’t want to burn coal, we don’t want to burn coal – “węgiel” in our stoves. We want to use carbon, as a new technology, for the future.

Carbon fibers, which are much more advanced than metals and other materials. Big constructions can be built, using carbon fibers.

Amorphous carbon, used for filters and other things, to clean water and air by using carbon.

And how can we build nanostructures, like graphene, to build a package from carbon, graphene and put hydrogen in there? So, these three assets are very important in our existing world.

It is something that we treat as our future and only through the cooperation, widely between our scientists, our businesses and also the public sector, will it be possible to achieve and develop these ideas about how water, hydrogen and carbon can cooperate together.

And do you know what is important nowadays? How you, as a young generation, can use your smartness, your accumulated IQ to develop these ideas and take us, the older generation, on a fantastic journey to the future. Thank you very much.

Edward
Lucas

ENGLAND
Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, former Senior Editor at the Economist, specialist in European and transatlantic security affairs.

Edward Lucas is a specialist in European and transatlantic security affairs.

Formerly a senior editor at The Economist, the world’s foremost newsweekly, he is now a senior fellow (non-resident) at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He writes a fortnightly column in the London Times.

For many years a foreign correspondent, he was based in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Moscow and the Baltic states. He speaks five languages — German, Russian, Polish, Czech and Lithuanian.

 

In 2008 he wrote The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, followed in 2011 by Deception, an investigative account of east-west espionage. His latest print book is Cyberphobia. He has also written two e-books on espionage: The Snowden Operation and Spycraft Rebooted.

The next steps needed for the Three Seas more

The Three Seas Initiative is vitally important for the economic, politic and security future of the countries between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. It’s the best way of countering China’s murky, hegemonic infrastructure projects which seek to shape our futures for generations.

But the Three Seas Initiative needs to do more, and do it more effectively. I’ve been arguing for years that it needs a proper intergovernmental, legal framework and a permanent secretariat. It needs momentum when it comes to membership — more countries joining, and a welcoming waiting room.

And it needs better projects. Not just lines on a map, but real construction and regulatory efforts that improve connectivity and build resilience. That’s the best answer to the Russian and Chinese threat. I really look forward to taking part in Saturday’s conference — I hope to see you there.

Dr Solomon
Passy

BULGARIA
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Founder and President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria.

Dr. Solomon Passy is a Bulgarian scientist, statesman and innovator. In 1990, as an MP he tabled the bills for Bulgaria’s memberships in NATO and EU (along with the withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact). These projects were finalized in 2001-2005 when he, as Foreign Minister, negotiated both memberships. A replica of his Trabant blessed by Pope John Paul II is currently exhibited at the NATO Headquarters as a symbol of NATO’s 2004 Big Bang Enlargement.

He also served as the Chairman of the UN Security Council, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Chairman of Parliamentary Defense and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Dr. Passy holds a PhD in Mathematical Logic & Computer Sciences and co-authored the EU action for unifying the USB charger for mobile phones, thus preventing millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

Dr. Passy was the principal coordinator of Health Shield Europe, aiming to reduce risks of the next global epidemics.

Peak Passy on Livingston Island, Antarctica is named after him for his contribution to Bulgaria’s presence in Antarctica. He has two flights on the F-16 and is of today the latest Bulgarian national who talked live to the International Space Station, during a NASA – sponsored Inflight Downlink.

 

 

“New Europe: from 3 Seas to 3 Oceans” more
Read the talk (open)

First of all, I want to ask the GenFree, meaning Generation of Freedom, to tell me – do you remember when was the last album of ABBA published? Do you remember it? No.

Also, Generation of Freedom – do you remember, when did the legendary Congress of the Solidarity Trade Union take place at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk?

Both of them happened exactly 40 years ago, in 1981. At that time, we were living in a communist country, in a communist reality and we were not allowed to travel.

I personally was not allowed to go to the concert of ABBA, but I was allowed to visit another communist country like Poland, and I used this opportunity to visit the Solidarity Trade Union Congress in Gdańsk, on the 3rd of October 1981.

That’s why I said this is not just another conference for me, this is a very special conference for me, because at this moment I mark 40 years of my public, political life, so thank you for inviting me here today.

That was me at that time. The long hair was a symbol that we already had something.

In Gdańsk I realised what was behind the importance of Poland, and I’m thankful to your prime minister for mentioning the word “Solidarity”.

Poland is a very significant country, and then, at that moment I realised why the Warsaw Pact was signed in Warsaw, it was because of the significance of your country.

Very solid confirmation that it will continue to be like that, I received 15 years later in the United States, when I left the house of Senator John McCain, with Lady Margaret Thatcher and she told me:

– Young man – at that time I was supposedly young, – Young man, you have to forget about Bulgaria’s membership in NATO. – Why Lady Thatcher? What did we do wrong?

She told me: – You didn’t do anything wrong, but we must first invite Poland to NATO, because we sacrificed Poland to Hitler and now, we owe Poland a lot.

And I understood that the significance of Poland will continue to be as topical as it was a decade before.

DC:

It’s important to add that Mr Solomon Passy was the father of the idea for Bulgaria to NATO, he was the first politician in Bulgaria who openly said that Bulgaria should one day become a member of NATO.

This was crazy at that time.

But successful!

We believed that we were moving very slowly towards NATO and the European Union. Why slowly? Because we believed we were driving slow cars, but nevertheless we had skilful navigators.

Navigators like King Simeon the II of Bulgaria, who was a Bulgarian Prime Minister negotiating the membership of NATO and European Union or Manfred Wörner, the secretary general of NATO, or Lech Wałęsa who visited me 16 years after I was in Gdańsk, now he was in a different setting?

And today we have our symbols in NATO – we have the Solidarity symbol in NATO, we have our Trabant in NATO, but this is not the end of the history.

Membership in NATO and the European Union is not the end of history. This is the beginning of a new history, and this is a beginning of new integration.

And you’ll ask me “what integration, what is next?” The next is the Three Seas Initiative. Why the Three Seas? Because Three Seas, or as I prefer to call the Three Seas countries “New Europe”, it is more user-friendly.

New Europe has potential. What is the potential there?

We have a combined population of 112 million people. This is equal to France and Spain taken together. We have a combined territory of 1.2 million square kilometres, this is Germany plus France plus Belgium together and we have an average salary which is 2 times lower than in the rest of Europe, which is a great potential, but in politics… to find a solution is nothing.

To implement the solution is everything. The question is how to implement the solution called the New Europe or the Three Seas Initiative? How, how to do it?

My original profession is mathematics – when I don’t know how to do something, I go back to mathematics. In mathematics there is one very important principle: if you don’t know how to solve a problem, first solve a bigger problem, then the smaller problem can be solved as a consequence

And what was our Bulgarian solution in order to sell the Three Seas? We first decided to sell a bigger concept, which we call Three Oceans.

We established a Bulgarian base in Antarctica, in between the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic Ocean. And I visited Antarctica 4 times, it is a fantastic place to visit.

I invite all of you to Bulgarian base. I also visited the Polish base there. So once you solve the Three Oceans problem, to solve the Three Seas problem is nothing. We go ahead. This, by the way, was one of the reasons why the Three Seas Summit in Bulgaria was so successful a few months ago.

We succeeded and thanks to all of you who supported this idea, to prioritize connectivity in the Three Seas Area for STEM projects. President Radev of Bulgaria extends his warm salutes to everybody who attended this event in Sofia and supported this initiative.

Let’s start to apply this Three Oceans concept to our tasks in the Three Seas. What can we do?

We have the Three Seas and we have… as you know very well, we have the North Sea route, which starts from Korea, goes up north around Russia and leads here to the Baltic Sea. The North Sea Route is heavily dominated by Russia.

So, they have a natural interest in ice melting and climate change, because it makes this so much more profitable. But we also have something else!

We have the South Sea Route, which also starts from Korea, goes into the Pacific, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and then leads to the Baltic Sea.

This is a very interesting route, in which however, China is extremely interested. And what is our solution?

For the contribution between the North and South Sea Route, we can suggest a solution, the Three Seas solution.

We can create a shortcut. We can make a shortcut and take the cargo from …. to go from the Aegean Sea, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Gdańsk – to celebrate the Solidarity Trade Union Congress.

This is a phenomenal solution. Why is it a phenomenal solution? Because it is shorter, cheaper, faster and cleaner.

It is shorter by 5000 kilometres, cheaper: 120$ per ton for cargo, faster: 11 days and cleaner, because it saves half a million tons of CO2 emissions every year.

It is very much in synergy with Via Carpathia, very much in synergy with it.

This route, this shortcut, this solution will materialize the dream of European Union which we have had for the last 20 years.

I put this package in one function, which is drafting a European constitution. Another function was in adopting the Lisbon Treaty. What was that most important red thread, big idea in these two documents?

It was one thing: to make Europe one. And this solution, coming here down from… this is the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, from here to Gdańsk this solution makes Europe one.

The last proof of this fact was given only the day before yesterday, why the south route is so important.

All of us saw on CNN and all of the news stations about the new defence alliance between Australia, UK and the United States, the so-called AUKUS.

They agreed that the United States will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, in order to defend the Indo-Pacific area from Chinese expansion.

This is crucial, this is really crucial and I’m very sorry about the French financial loss in this case, I think that NATO could have some role in this, the European Union could have some role in this, but this would be just a matter of the future. The reaction of France is understandable but listen very carefully to the reaction of China.

The reaction of China against AUKUS was phenomenally sharp. We heard President Xi Jinping speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. So, what must we do for ABC+De? Just meet

This is the AUKUS, the agreement between the three countries: UK, United States and Australia. And yes, just do it, this is ABC, just do it and the big question is how? How to build it?

I can put you in touch with the Bulgarian engineers who developed the whole project. They have detailed plans on how to build this thing but what do we need?

The simple answer! The simple, short answer to what we need is: to inject imagination.

Inject imagination of existing tigers, because I saw that tigers are a theme at our conference. We don’t need to invent such tigers; we can just use the existing tigers.

Inject imagination and let’s see who the tigers are: Jeff Bezos; Richard Branson; Steve Jobs; Mark Zuckerberg; Sundar Pichai with the better Passy and Bill Gates with the worst Passy; and of course, the great Elon Musk with his hyperloop and inspiration for, that we are all following him nowadays into space. My appeal to the European Commission is the following: do not fine the tigers; do not punish the tigers.

Rather seduce them to come to Europe. We need these tigers to come to Europe and not to discourage them to come here and then go to India.

If Europe believes me then it believes in the Gen Free from Sophia! Look at this.

This is Gen Free Sophia, who wants to salute Gen Free in Warsaw, now I’m supposed to have some music:

“Ahead of the future, time and space. 30 more years. Atlantic Club Bulgaria” And may the force be with you.

Madalina
Sisu Vicari

Romania
Expert on Geoeconomics, University of Liege. Romanian-born Belgian resident, energy geopolitics and energy markets expert.

Madalina Sisu Vicari is a Romanian born, Belgian resident, energy geopolitics and energy markets expert. She focuses on energy geo-economics, energy security, the outlook of oil and gas markets, business intelligence, the impact of alternative energy developments on global affairs and competitiveness of markets.  In particular, she has been extensively monitoring and analysing the energy policy developments related to Ukraine, Turkey and Russia.

She has authored two book chapters on energy and has published numerous articles in academic journals and magazines. Ms Sisu Vicari is also an avid commentator on energy and geopolitics in the international media in many countries.

Prior to settling as an independent energy expert and consultant, her career included positions in political journalism and public affairs and communication. She also founded and managed an NGO and a Brussels-based think-tank, designed and led numerous advocacy campaigns.

Three Seas Energy Projects: Addressing Challenges and Opportunities through More Geopolitical Clout more

No region of the world can see sustained levels of economic development without investing in the energy sector. I will delve into all the Three Seas energy projects to analyze the challenges and the direction in which the cooperation is heading. If the Three Seas is to be a highly innovative region by 2050, energy policy must be given a prominent position in the public sphere.

The new energy infrastructure projects to be built will strengthen the region’s interconnectivity, energy security and economic growth while also making it easier to reach the goals set in the fight against climate change.

However, more needs to be done to start preparing additional energy projects that are more in tune with the Fourth Industrial Revolution – digitization, alternative technologies and alternative energy trends.

The Three Seas Initiative needs more geopolitical clout. It can be achieved by the Initiative adopting a more formal framework, emulating the path taken by the European Mediterranean Gas Forum.

The Three Seas Initiative can be a roaring success by 2050; an energy grand strategy for the region will make the path swifter and more straightforward

Dr Zoltan
Szalai

HUNGARY
Editor-in Chief of the Hungarian weekly newspaper Mandiner and the Director General of Mathias Corvinus Collegium

Dr Zoltan Szalai has been the Director General of Mathias Corvinus Collegium for over 10 years. He holds postgraduate degrees in German Language and Literature, earning his PhD summa cum laude in Cultural Studies

Velina
Tchakarova

Austria
Director of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy. Austrian geopolitical and security policy expert.

Velina Tchakarova is an Austrian geopolitical and security policy expert.

She is Director of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES). She is also instructor at the Real World Risk Institute (RWRI) led by Nassim Taleb, a best-selling author of Black Swan and Antifragile.

She has eleven years of professional experience and seven years of academic background in the fields of foreign, security, and defence policy. Her work includes research, consulting, lectures, and publications on global and regional geopolitical and geoeconomic trends and future scenarios for the public and private sector.

Three Seas Energy Projects: Addressing Challenges and Opportunities through More Geopolitical Clout more

Read the talk (open)

Hello dear ladies and gentlemen, dear guests, dear participants, and speakers.

We’ve heard today that we live in a highly interconnected world. And the buzzword of this century is connectivity.

So, I will take you on a journey in the next 10 to 15 minutes, where we will explore the future of this amazing and highly ambitious geo-political initiative called the Three Seas Initiative.

Let’s start the journey. So, as you have heard from the presentations today, the Three Seas Initiative is the most ambitious and boldest geopolitical and geoeconomics project of the future.

It pursues the very ambitious goal not to only create new opportunities for the 12 European Union members in the region to further integrate into the European Union, but it actually seeks to also create new opportunities for integration, so it’s no longer just about creating connectivity and infrastructure and energy corridors between the East and West but it’s also about the North and the South.

The second important point is that the European Union pursues the ambitious goal of becoming a coherent true political actor and in fact, this is the greatest incentive for the European Union to support the Three Seas Initiative in becoming a coherent, integrative part of the European Union family and even I would say, to go beyond that, by expanding the geoeconomics enlargement process.

And finally: the European Union has been the strongest, when the European Union members worked together with the European institutions, and this is another reason why I actually I am very optimistic about the future of this project.

However, there are also some hurdles. The European Union is not the only geopolitical actor in this region.

There are other external players trying to explore and penetrate this geoeconomics space and in that matter the presence of actors such as China and Russia is going to increase in the future.

So against this background, the European Union and the United States pursue in fact common geopolitical goals and coincide in their geoeconomics calculations, to prevent such presence from growing, to prevent external actors from penetrating this geoeconomics space. You all have heard about ambitious, geostrategic projects, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and specifically that Central and Eastern Europe play a large part of this project in Europe.

Another format that is very known here is the 17+1 format. Lithuania has become first member of this regional format, launched by China, which decided to abandon it, to exit and actually called on the European Union to move from 17 + 1 or 16 + 1 towards a more inclusive and more efficient 27 + 1 format, in dealing with China.

So, in the future, the major geopolitical question of how to deal with external actors, such as China, to some extent also Russia, whose presence has also been growing in the region, is going to be very decisive in how the European Union and then the United States will forge partnerships, alliances to actually support the Three Seas Initiative and in that matter, the Three Seas Initiative is the space where geopolitics and geopolitical needs meet in Europe.

But what about the future of this initiative? Where do you see the future of the Three Seas Initiative in 20 to 30 years from now?

In order to imagine this – because this morning we heard about the need for imagination – so, in order to imagine alternative futures for the Three Seas Initiative,

I’m going to explore the following scenarios with you. Scenarios that are based on alternative models of the future.

As you can see, I have developed 4 alternatives for the Three Seas Initiative and I’ll also present you with one gamechanger at the end.

So, let’s start with the battlefield of vision and connectivity. Let us all imagine a future by around 2040- 2050, where the Three Seas Initiative countries are doing so great, they are generating economic growth, they have in fact strong political stability and enjoy social vitality.

But at the very same time, countries such as China or Russia have also managed to successfully introduce alternative projects built in the fields of energy or infrastructure or other digital initiatives.

So, what it means is that by 2050, we might end up in a situation of an increased competition over visions, over connectivity initiatives, over the way of how we actually want to shape this space.

And competition is not a bad word, because in reality, this scenario would mean that the major players, such as the European Union with its institutions, and also Washington of course, the United States would actually feel the pressure to support, to engage and to actually do more.

But the most decisive component will be, in fact, who the victor of the 4th industrial revolution is going to be.

So, this battlefield will be decided by the way how the Three Seas Initiative countries will in fact adapt to digitalization and will actually capitalize on the 4th industrial revolution. So, it’s of course an open question mark.

Now let us imagine our world in which we have a scenario of the Three Seas Initiative countries in fact not being capable of generating economic growth.

Dealing with social tensions; being in a situation of political instability.

So of course, all of these amazing initiatives and projects are going to be challenged by a Dragon-bear that is still doing quite well, still being successful in pushing forward its own imagination about the rules of the game, about the way that they want to penetrate space.

So, it becomes a highly contested and fragmented space in which the prospects for success for the Three Seas Initiative are actually doomed to fall.

And then of course there is a third scenario. Finally, the Trimarium is the successful formula, the one that its predecessor, the Intermarium, could not achieve 100 years ago.

What kind of situation or scenario does that mean? A scenario in which the Three Seas Initiative countries are generating economic growth, are pushing forward through bilateral and multilateral initiatives, are receiving support from European institutions, American investors and at the very same time, the Dragon-bear is split, is witnessing structural issues, is not able to be involved with the region or to actually propose and win the hearts and minds of Central and Eastern European countries.

This of course is a best-case scenario for our region in the period of 2040-2050.

But then there is also a worst case scenario. One – that is determined by a doomsday prognosis considering both, on the one side the Central Eastern European countries in a sense that they are not able to produce any further economic growth, are split through political, social tensions and at the very same time there’s also a weak Dragon-bear operating on the ground.

Of course, there emerges a grey, diffused space, a porous world in which every country acts only for itself. No block can actually achieve the upper hand to actually win, so to say in this diffused world, disinformation campaigns, a kind of a hybrid warfare fought and is basically being established in this huge space. A worst case scenario is bad news to you – we don’t want to have such a scenario in the future. What about the game changer?

Now, imagine a world in which there is a new bifurcation of the global system and at the top of our global affairs system, there’s a new, real systemic rivalry between the United States and China.

One, that encompasses all relevant socio-economic networks, the way we know them.

That means, the US-dominated and the US-led international, organisational leverage that was left after the collapse of the Soviet Union… but also the supremacy of the West.

In all these relevant networks is being daily challenged by China. In this bifurcation there’s a big risk that the Central and Eastern European region becomes a victim of a new bipolarisation of international relations in a sense that the two systemic rivals decide to split the region once again.

This would be a game changer we don’t want to see, because this would also mean isolation in a sense, that a new Iron Curtain is being erected along NATO’s eastern flank and the two parts of the region have to exist in an isolated way once again.

So, these are alternative futures and as it was said in the morning, keep in mind that the bricks that have been used to erect walls, and have also been used to build bridges, and when I speak about bridges I mean one specific actor, who is still a little bit cautious to participate actively in this project. This is Austria.

Now Austria takes – and we are back in the now when I talk about Austria. Of course, this is a country that occupies a very unique position.

It hasn’t been a member of the Warsaw Pact or of Yugoslavia, it is not a NATO member and yet it sees and perceives itself as a bridge builder so to say, between the West and the East, and right now with this very ambitious geopolitical and geoeconomics project of the Three Seas Initiative, Austria can also build bridges between the North and the South.

So, where do I see the role of Austria in this project? First and foremost, it is just a matter of time for Austria to decide to participate more actively.

Second – they are certain experiences and certain multiplayer effects that Austria could bring to the table by reaching out to European institutions, by reaching out to stakeholders that can get interested in the project.

And thirdly, of course one might say: Austria could also be also a spoiler – that is true, however energy interests are not everything that determines the Three Seas Initiative, and Austria does realize that the energy interests of its neighbours and mostly of course, direct neighbours in Central Europe need to be pursued equally, as it is the case with the Austrian interest.

So, in that matter once again, Austria will not be a free rider, Austria will contribute, and it is a question of time to do the right thing. Thank you very much.