TALLINN – Estonian President Alar Karis said at the Three Seas Initiative Summit on Wednesday that the priority must be the quick connection of the Baltic and Carpathian transport corridors and linking them with Ukraine and Moldova.
"Our most urgent task is to build out the Baltic and Carpathian transport corridors connecting the eastern flank of the European Union and connect them with Ukraine and Moldova. This opens up the opportunity to more efficiently serve a market where more than 100 million people live, and thus we create a prerequisite for smoother cooperation with the countries that we want to see as members of the European Union," Karis said at the summit.
The Estonian head of state pointed out that Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has put the economic prospects of the entire region under great pressure and highlighted the region's biggest weaknesses and needs.
"One of them is railway transport as the most sustainable, efficient and strategically important mode of transport," Karis said.
He added that, in addition to promoting economic cooperation, a strong infrastructure also ensures the necessary military mobility and enables a much more effective contribution to the reconstruction of Ukraine.
Karis called for the keeping open of the channels that allow Ukraine to transport grain through Europe and the consideration of other possible alternatives, such as ports in the Baltic countries, so that Ukraine would have the opportunity to export its grain.
The head of state pointed to an analysis by the IMF, according to which the infrastructure investment deficit of the Central and Eastern European countries belonging to the three seas region is still more than a trillion euros compared to Western Europe.
"Such a deficit has important geopolitical implications. To close this gap, we all need to significantly increase our investments in infrastructure, by also including private investors," the president said.
The Estonian head of state recalled one of the main goals of the initiative -- to involve reliable private capital and institutional investors in vitally necessary major projects.
"If this fails, the gap will be filled by those who perhaps do not share common values with us, and our society will certainly not benefit from this," Karis said.
The head of state stressed that he would be happy to see the Three Seas Initiative expand towards the North as well.