The current intensification of inter-regional integration processes in a number of specific areas within the EU is one of the reactions to the crisis of the European Union that is currently unfolding. The group consists of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. It is worth noting that in contrast to Marshal Pilsudski’s famous idea "from sea to sea”, today's Intermarium initiative does not include such countries as Ukraine and Belarus that are today neighbors of both Russia and the EU. Their path to the EU’s membership still seems to be very far away, while the future of the EU itself in its current form seems difficult to predict.

One of the most active participants of the promoted initiative is the President of Croatia, Melinda Grabar-Kitarović. 12 states from the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black Sea region participated in the forum "Strengthening Europe: Connecting North and South”, recently held in Dubrovnik. In her speech, the President of Croatia stressed that cooperation of this group of countries presumes protection of their own interests, as well asthose of theentire EU. It is obvious that such a statement of the objectives infers lobbying of the common interests in Brussels, especially regarding the issue of financing. According to some sources, a formal invitation was sent to the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić as well, but he did not turn up for this forum. However, participation of the heads of the Balkan countries, such as Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro was announced.

The heads of the Balkan countries were expected to meet for another reason, as well.Last year, during the Serbian President’s visit to Minsk, his Belarusian counterpart suddenly suggested to bringtogether the leaders of the former Yugoslavia the following year for the occasion of the construction of the "Minsk World” center as "it would be very symbolic”. Lukashenko hoped that the Serbian guest would be able to invitethem to Minsk. To such a tempting offer Mr. Nikolic replied: "Yes, I have already instructed Mr. Karić (Honorary Consul), he visited the Presidents of Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro, and, thus, former Yugoslavia will be represented here”. Since then, however, nothing has been heard of this initiative. It looks like the idea of ​​the Balkan forum in Minks has been just left for good.

On the other hand, Turkey, the United States of America and China paid attention to the Dubrovnik forum and sent their ministers of Foreign Affairs, Energy and Communications. In short, this European event turned out to be quite representative and worth attention. As for Serbia, it is interesting to mention that its negotiations on accessionissue with the EU took start, upon Berlin’s approval, when its president was on an official visit in Minsk. This year, after Vučić’s short visit to Moscow, a number of media enunciated a cooling of relations between Belgradeand both Brussels and Washington, as well as its indifference to the Intermarium initiative. Dmitry Medvedev's upcoming visit to Belgrade in September must show how genuine these claims are. Appointment of six ministers fluent in Russian,to the Serbian government is considered in the West as a manifestationof Russia’s renewed interest in the country. All the news about Serbia provide grounds to assume that its path to the EU will be much more thorny in comparison to those 12 participants of the Intermarium initiative that continue to uphold anti-Russian sanctions. Belgrade’s position was an unpleasant surprise for Brussels, since it was distinct from the EU’s. President Tomislav Nikolić said: "We cannot impose sanctions on Russia if it is meant by adjustment to the EU's foreign policy.”

It is nota secret that today heterogeneous opinions are voiced in the European capitals concerningthe continuation of these sanctions. It is believed that almost all of the 12 participants of the Intermarium on the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea line are unanimous in supporting the sanctions, so Moscow perceives them as anti-Russian, especially in the light of the statements of the Polish President Andrzej Duda, who claimed the dominance of a single energy supplier to constitute a real threat for Central Europe. This statement somewhat clarified the meaning of the other rhetoric, specifically that relating to Brussels deals with the financing of the EU projects. According to the Polish president’s opinion, the North-South Corridor is a key project connecting the existing LNG terminal in Świnoujście with the terminal on the Croatian island, Krk. The cost of building a liquefied natural gas terminal (LNG) on the Croatian island Krk, with all necessary infrastructure is estimated at approximately €1 billion. Thus, the Polish LNG terminal should become a crucial part of the "Sea to sea”system, integrated North-South gas network of the Visegrad countries and Croatia.

The Lithuanian president’s speech has also raised certain interest. Ms. Gribauskaite presented Lithuania's experience in the construction of an LNG terminal in Klaipeda. According to her statement, it helped to eliminate the monopoly of Gazprom and reduce the price of gas by almost a quarter (23%). Another example of successful experience is electricity connections between Lithuania, Sweden and Poland, which reduced the price of electricity by 16%. Lithuanian priority in the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative is the exchange of experience in order to ensure the diversity of energy sources and to contribute to the construction of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk, a strategically important project for the Adriatic Sea region andthe European Union alike. Taking into consideration current "nuclear" disputes between Vilnius and Minsk, it was expected to hear about the fight against the threat of such a geopolitical project as Belarusian nuclear power plant in the speech of the President of Lithuania. Twelve participants of the Dubrovnik forum assured each other that in case of realization of this project they will be able to receive liquefied natural gas from a number of perspective sources.

Such caution can be explained by the intensifying race between Bulgaria and Turkey for the Russian export gas route to Europe. An overarching importance is given to the resuscitation of the "Turkish stream" project, too. Some Russian and other experts do not exclude a possibility of combining "Turkish Stream" with the "South Stream". In addition, according to the opinion of several experts and politicians, the continuation of these two projects might ensue the revival of the Poseidon project (maritime part of the ITGI line running from Turkey via Greece to Italy through the Ionian Sea).

It has been claimed that it is possible to lay parallel pipelines from Russia through the Black Seabefore they separate in the directions of Turkey and Bulgaria. At the same time, experts point out that in August 2016, Russia and Turkey have agreed on equitable investment sharing regarding the financing of the project on the Turkish territory. Therefore, the Turkish factor can add adrenaline to the EU in this sphere as well. For regional development projects in Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea, the regions that pay much attention to energy projects, it will require an investment of 50 billion euros. Without support of Germany - EU locomotive such a sum can hardy cause historical optimism in its initiators. Hence, 12 EU member-states, should give more or less clear answer to the question about successful future realization of this energy project of Intermarium in the next forum that will be held in Wroclaw in 2017.

 

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