This year, during the 6-7 of September, Bucharest will bring together hundreds of participants to the 8th annual political and public meetings of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI). During the 2 days, packed with over 30 events, the European leaders will outline the next steps necessary to collectively face regional challenges and opportunities, under the conviction that „together we are stronger”.
High expectations are set for this year’s reunions, as the Mediterranean country Greece has officially become the 13th member of the 3SI, bringing the Aegean as the fourth sea in the initiative. Also, since last June Ukraine was granted the status of associate partner, with Moldova taking the spotlight this year by becoming the second country to receive this status.
Otherwise, during these two days we can expect many decision-takers and stakeholders to present a united front and attempt to harmonize policies related to energy, digitalization, transport and investments, especially in light of the Russian conflict. Moreover, since robust partnerships are needed, as to sustain momentum and drive the desired changes, the Three Seas Business and Development Association was inaugurated, mobilizing private capital towards collective objectives, with talks that a joint Chamber of Commerce is also on the table for the foreseeable future. Also, alongside the business consortium, the Investment Fund’s priorities have been updated and a new financial tool, called the Innovation Fund, has been presented.
Furthermore, with Romania becoming the first state to host twice the 3SI Summit (with the former taking place in mid-September 2018), the results of its mandate, which lasted from June 2022 until September 2023, are reflected in the Joint Declaration that was adopted at the end of the discussions. Hence, the document should contour the initiative’s future priorities and directions for the Lithuanian Presidency, including an updated list of high-priority strategic projects. Moreover, the American Chambers of Commerce in 3SI countries signed a Joint Statement of Support for the initiative, reiterating their commitment to sustain the region’s economic development.
Stay with us for the live coverage of this year’s main event!
7 of September, Palace of the Parliament, Business Forum
15:45 – Inauguration Ceremony of the Three Seas Business and Development Association
This new civil organization, headquartered and registered in Brussels, is aimed at strengthening collaboration amongst private and public partners across the region. Therefore, the structure seeks to accelerate and converge innovative solutions, all while becoming a fora through which 3SI based entrepreneurs and stakeholders can jointly voice their desiderates, from the local and national levels all the way to EU and other international institutions.
The organization welcomes participants, from its official opening on the 10th of October, to actively participate in the construction of cross-border networks, particularly in key industries like digitalization, transportation and energy. Also, since the TSBDA represents a free willed association of business leaders across the region it has a joint board, which includes at least one leading member from each of the 3SI states.
Otherwise, the structure aspires to branch off its activities across the region and even Europe, co-working on transnational projects that have broad outcomes and lobbying for various corporate groups, in order to adapt to the changing market dynamics. Hence, it aspires to optimize access to EU or 3SI financial mechanisms, in parallel with other national investing opportunities, by funneling the efforts of private and public partners in a collaborative manner.
12:00 – Panel Sessions
Section on Energy
The session explored various regional challenges and opportunities in respect to the sustainable transition towards renewable energy, nuclear power or hydrogen solutions, especially in the context of decoupling from non-EU resources. Also, it sought ways through which innovative measures can be fostered to generate economic prosperity and energy security across the region. Moreover, the creation of mechanisms that would prevent supply chain disruptions or enable 3SI states to reach the Fit for 55 goals were investigated, particularly in light of increased public-private cooperation and involvement of civil society actors.
Sebastian Ioan-Burduja – Minster of Energy Romania
Mr. Burduja considers that economic development represents the key to our future only if it is done in a responsible and sustainable way, underlining that even nowadays you can still witness the communist colossal structures of concrete and metal, referring to a period which was driven by unhindered industrialization regardless of its impact for future generations. Moreover, he points out that our efforts „not only have be a green transition but also a just and smart one”, all the initiatives needing to benefit the whole society, especially those that are most affected by the shifts in industries. Also, he underlines that consumers’ preferences have swiftly changed in recent years, with an exponential increase of the citizens involvement into climate and energy matters, a process which proves the „excitement for the future” across the 3SI.
Davor Filipović – Minister for Economy and Sustainable Development Croatia
Mr. Davor points out that „decisions we make today and policies we implement today” will cascade into a better future for those that are to follow in our steps, seeking to develop fresh initiatives that can change the ways we approach collective challenges. Moreover, he considers that responsibility and sustainability need to be the pillars upon which we construct our identities, since we must diversify our options and ensure that we comprehensively tackle the risks that we face.
Also, he is confident that the region has the capacity to transform itself and become a strong provider of energy in Europe, ensuring the latter’s energetic independence, especially if we continue working on the development of green and resilient solutions.
Valentino Valentini – Deputy Minister for Business and Made in Italy
Mr. Valentino considers that 3SI has always stood for visionary approaches to common challenges and opportunities, becoming an increasingly relevant actor in the context of shifting geopolitical landscapes across Europe. He also draws attention to how Italy and numerous other European actors are directly invested in sustaining development across the neighborhood, in order to work with „heart and commitment towards our collective future”.
Christina Verchere – CEO OMW Petrom
Ms. Verchere believes that, when it comes to reaching net zero by 2030, private companies need to work very hard and implement as fast as possible alternative business models, adopt innovative methods and sustainable production mechanisms across the entire chain of production. Moreover, she highlights that the interesting “combination of private and public organizations working together” can be the main driver of change across the region, decarbonize the economy and lead to a circular economic model. Also, she stresses that hydrogen, nuclear, and nitrogen solutions will allow 3SI states to drastically reduce their emission, all while maintaining economic growth. Nonetheless, these measures require powerful public support and political will to continue.
Section on Transport
The discussions revolved around connectivity as a key to enhance economic growth and the overall quality of life across the 3SI region, investigating how the member states can play an increased role in terms of interconnecting Europe and optimizing the flows of goods. Moreover, they also talked about the possible issues posed by the implementation of major infrastructure and development projects in respect to meeting EU’s Green Deal goals, emphasizing the transformative impact green mobility and digitalization can bear.
Ionuț Cristian Săvoi – State Secretary ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Romania
Mr. Săvoi considers that we are facing „unprecedented large-scale financial and management networks” aimed at improving regional interconnection through modernization of existing transport measures and construction of new routes. Also, he underlines that 3SI investments and joint efforts can complement EU’s objectives when it comes to smart and sustainable mobility, becoming a key driver of the changes that happen across the region. Otherwise, he notes that several European and even global transit corridors, hubs and nodes overlap across the region, aspect that requires increased efforts to sustain their proper development, especially when facing rerouting caused by the war in Ukraine.
Venera Vlad – Associate Director, Infrastructure Europe, EBRD
Ms. Venera stressed that EBRD’s wider range of financial instruments and consultancy mechanisms are mostly dedicated to the development of innovative solutions coming from private and public organizations that seek to implement transnational sustainable infrastructure programs in the transport sector, with numerous programs being implemented across the region. Otherwise, she highlights the importance to set high standards and support private-public partnerships, especially those which account for the direct and indirect implications of any project implemented, considering that the 3SI showcases great potential to become a transportation hub.
Section on Digital
During this panel, the participants have discussed about the dynamic landscape of digital transformation, focusing on the cybersecurity dimension and the sustainable integration of AI solutions in our daily lives. Moreover, they explored the evolving challenges and promising opportunities in these sectors, considering the regional, European and global perspectives, particularly in regards to the complexity dimensions of transformative or disruptive technologies.
David Barnes – Vice President Global Workforce Policy IBM Corporation
Mr. David considers that, with the current trends in AI technologies, transnational and national regulations are needed to channel the business environment and ensure that technologies are developed responsibly and ethically. Also, he notes that private businesses and their representatives must assume a more active role in society to democratize the workplaces of the future. Also, efforts are needed to make sure that people who come in the industry have the necessary skills to quickly adapt to new situations, as was the case during the pandemic. He also stresses that the 3SI presents a good ground for the expansion of the digital and technological sectors, since it has a relatively well prepared workforce, which can be further trained into specialized positions, and already has seen success stories in implementing innovative solutions.
Sasha Rubel – Head of AI/Machine Learning and Public Policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa AWS Corporation
Ms. Sasha believes that to coin AI adoption in a responsible way rests upon the open exploration of new technologies in a transparent manner, with relevant stakeholders needing to ensure that accountability is embedded into every step of the development and all business practices. Also, she stresses that there are numerous organizations that are at the forefront of these services, which work to employ „good data and good people” towards a wide-range of instruments that serve the interests of the larger society. Moreover, she notes that the third pillar to encourage AI and technological innovation consists in increased investments into research and education mechanisms that can keep up with the most recent developments and create breakthroughs across the entire field.
Section on Investments
Speakers at this panel engaged with critical topics, including the investment opportunities and economic potential of emerging industries across the region, ensuring that economic resilience is build cooperatively and that sustainable growth leads to a cascading of funds in the society. Moreover, the enhancement of 3SI’s attractiveness when it comes to investment and trade was explored, particularly thorough the engagement with global markets and the increase of competitiveness of large and small companies. Furthermore, start-up ecosystems and the advancement of sectors that drive economic growth represented focus areas of the discussions too.
Pilar Solano – Department Director EIB
Ms. Solano considers that the European investment and financial mechanisms presence across the continent and its alignment with the 3SI in terms of its priority agenda represent a monetary guarantee that can sustain a reliable development of the continent’s economies. Furthermore, she stressed that this year 13 bln. EUR will be invested in the 3SI region by EIB in order to support transport and energy infrastructure projects, alongside a palette of smaller initiatives ranging from education all the way to startups.
Moreover she notes that the war in Ukraine has slowed the investment in the region, which represents a long-term risk as long as uncertainties still dominate the market and adjacent supply chains. Otherwise, she underlines that there is a severe lack, due to fluctuations in demography, in some sectors of skilled and unskilled workers.
Jake Levine – Chief Climate Officer US International Development Finance Corporation
Mr. Levine notes that the US partners actively engage in financing regional energy projects across Europe and its larger Neighborhood, being able to help countries diversify away from the Russian resources. Moreover, this year there are several strategic areas added into the agenda of investments, particularly towards the expansion of technological sectors and small or medium sized enterprises, as „they form the backbone of the economy and create jobs”.
Also, they seek to support Ukrainian commercial flows to continue unperturbed in these turbulent times, an aspect that can only be achieved through cooperative measures taken across the 3SI member states in tandem with their international partners.
10:10 – Official opening remarks
Statement of Marcel Ciolacu – Prime Minister of Romania
His excellency considers that, for Romania, organizing the 3SI Summit and its parallel events represents a stepping stone in terms of regional cohesion and the development of new projects so that „three seas will reach their maximum potential in the foreseeable future”.
Statement of Klaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania
The President reaffirms that this fifth edition of the Forum, after the inaugural one hosted in Bucharest in 2018, aspires to address the discrepancies across all CEE states, firmly believing that 3SI has proven itself „as a catalyst of economic growth in the region”, representing a turning point through the increased participation of new partners and in correlation with the decisions taken yesterday. Also, his excellency stresses that the war in Ukraine increased the need to „recalibrate, consolidate and diversify 3SI’s instruments”, with a primary goal of consolidating interconnection on the North-South axis, which is a „major regional objective”.
Moreover, in this context he believes that Romania has became the largest „cereal hub in Europe” due to its Danube and Black Sea ports, which require more than ever to be connected with its other partners, alongside the country’s potential as an energy security provider in Europe.
Statement of Marcel Ciolacu – Prime Minister of Romania
His excellency considers that the war in Ukraine „calls us all to be more solidary and united in our efforts to consolidate democracy and the economic systems”, especially through the cohesive development of infrastructure and business solutions that can adapt to future challenges. Otherwise, he underlines that „our economic power is fundamental to the development of great resilience at the regional level”, with the need to prioritize the implementation of joint programs and expand 3SI’s capacities.
Moreover, he believes that the region has an economic potential of over 1 trillion EUR, that can be reached through public-private partnerships which go beyond the borders of any country, being part of a region that is „extremely dynamic in economic terms” and well anchored across the EU or global markets.
Andrzej Duda – President of Poland
The President considers that these meetings represent a great opportunity to prepare future projects in the 3SI and within NATO or EU’s frameworks, with the initiative „proving its instrumental role in establishing a proper context for businesses to prosper” alongside political dialogue. His excellency points out that recent developments and involvement of new members and partners enables the structure to act as a major regional player in key strategic areas. Also, through cooperative projects „we have been able to survive the energy crisis”, with new possibilities of cooperation already being created, especially when it comes to the transition process towards green energy solutions, aspect which could „change the energy generation scheme in this part Europe”.
Otherwise, with Greece’s integration we are more than 100 million citizens eager to foster the economic development of the region, with investments exceeding 170 bln. EUR in major projects last year, a sum that is expected only to grow. Furthermore, since 4 out of 13 countries border Ukraine directly, he considers that we have the capacity and knowledge to assist Kiev in its EU accession pathway and post-war reconstruction. Similarly, based on the successes recorder before, a new institution in the form Three Seas Business Development Association will be launched, aimed at operating within major strategic areas.
Andrej Plenković – Prime-Minister of Croatia
His excellency notices that the fact that there are so many participants it showcases the willingness to cooperatively build together new enterprises and solutions. Moreover, due to „tectonic changes” that shifted the region, believing that energy, transport and digital cooperation represent key areas to „increase mutual connectivity, trade flows and benefits” which will help our societies to strengthen themselves.
Furthermore he underlines that US’ presence at the Summit and overall active involvement enables the 3SI to better position itself on the global stage and to increase its Trans-Atlantic ties.
Edgars Rinkēvičs – President of Latvia
The President considers that the inclusion of Moldova and Ukraine as partner states, alongside the acceptance of Greece as a member, foster 3SI’s developments. Also, his excellency stresses that the „first step is to find our regions’ uniqueness” which would enable us to create better economic and security contexts, ensuring that we collectively can become a significant player in Europe. Furthermore, „the digital frontier is expanding through cross-border initiatives”, believing that it can prove to be the future for regional developments that can bear cascading effects.
Also, he stresses that „only as a region we can reaffirm our stances and create a lasting impact on the world”, mentioning our future is a common one.
Gitanas Nausėda – President of Lithuania
His excellency considers that the war in Ukraine, which shadows this year’s Summit, showcases the need to swiftly implement new projects as a mechanism to ensure resilience based on each country’s „unique perspectives and capabilities”. Moreover, he stresses that the energy development, particularly green solutions, represents a main focus area that goes beyond the scope of the region, especially when it comes to decoupling from non-EU actors, as the „immense regional potential” can prove to be the key for Europe’s security.
Moreover, he mentions that in order to reach „greater convergence, integration in the EU and connectivity” all members must collaborate and seek synergies with other organizations and partners which always „can do more to enhance 3SI’s efforts”.
John Kerry – United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
Mr. Kerry remarks that it is the perfect moment to „set the stage for the greatest transformation in economies since the Industrial Revolution”, being at the dawn of a new era in which markets are shifting, sometimes even dangerously towards a climate catastrophe. Also, he believes that this moment is not one about fear but rather about collective actions and initiative-taking, primarily by moving away from what we know and embracing alternative solutions.
Furthermore, he also mentions that all the weather anomalies we are witnessing recently beg the question to „when are we humans going to do what we are capable to do” in order to tackle a future in which the situations worsens. Also, since „the spoils will go to those who are the fastest to adapt”, he argues that the green transition can lead to increased prosperity across all sectors of society, with the US open to support regional and European projects that contribute to it and leverage their pool of resources, knowledge and capacities.
09:45 – Arrival of participants
The 3SI delegations and partners’ representatives, alongside dozens of distinguished panelists and „over a thousand” participants, are arriving at the Palace of the Parliament in preparation for a day full of events and meetings focusing on regional challenges and opportunities such as digitalization, transportation, energy and investments.
6 of September, Palace of Cotroceni, Leaders’ Meeting- Investing into a Resilient Tomorrow
19:00 – Joint Press Conference of the Presidents of Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Croatia.
Statement of Klaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania
The president reiterates the fact that Romania’s commitment to the 3SI reflects how important this platform is for cross-border political dialogue, having „a genuine capacity to enhance connectivity in the North-South corridor”. Also, he highlighted that today’s unanimous decision to make Greece the 13th 3SI state „showcases the attractivity of the organization” as a viable cooperation platform, alongside the decision to make both Ukraine and Moldova associate partners, a step that „represents a clear strategic recalibration of the region in the face of Russia’s aggression”.
Moreover, his excellency emphasized that the US presence in the region can serve as a „strategic catalyst” and that today the delegations have explored the possibility to further reduce regional disparities, especially in the field of transport, digitalization and green energy transition. Furthermore, he added that it is the first time cybersecurity takes such an important place on the agenda, alongside the introduction of new mechanisms to increase the regional resilience, particularly through dedicated funding solutions.
6 bln. EUR have been invested already in various projects through the 3SI Investment FundKlaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania
Statement of Andrzej Duda – President of Poland
The President stresses how important the constant involvement of special guests and tertiary participants within the 3SI platform is, especially in the context of the new members which expand the initiative horizons. Also, his excellency stressed that between 2018 and 2021 the 3SI states have invested more than 160 bln. EUR just in infrastructure development, with the war in Ukraine showcasing how strategically important it is to have a cohesive approach and capacity to swiftly transport goods and equipment across international routes.
Moreover, the President mentions that the wide-range of partners involved in the 3SI increases the efficiency of cross-border projects, with „every Euro that is spend also increasing the capabilities of the EU”, being confident in the future prospects of the organization. Also, the latter should include an increased cooperation with the UN and World Bank, alongside numerous other private or public actors, in order to properly tackle common challenges, like climate change, which will already be addressed through measures focused on the 2035 Agenda.
It is not only about trade, connecting people, or political meetings, but today the war in Ukraine has shown that it is also about our security and the possibility to move quickly goods across the region.Andrzej Duda – President of Poland
Statement of Andrej Plenković – Prime Minister of Croatia
The Prime Minister praises Moldova and Greece for their active participation in the 3SI structure so far, underlining that everything that was „discussed today seems to be improving” from one meeting to the other, with a renewed involvement of Croatia, especially through a large business delegation that seeks to deepen regional links. Also, his excellency reiterates his solidarity towards Ukraine and its people, accentuating Croatia’s commitment to fully support Kiev in this „brutal war”.
Otherwise, the Prime Minister stressed the plenitude of problems faced by Europe due to climate change, pledging full support, individually and through the 3SI channels, to all endeavors aimed at addressing this issue comprehensively and in a joint manner. Furthermore, he accentuates his full support for both Romania and Bulgaria when it comes to their Schengen accession journey.
We are pleased to oversee the participation of OECD representatives, an organization which, with Romania and Bulgaria, we aspire to join as soon as possible.Andrej Plenković – Prime Minister of Croatia.
Statement of Gitanas Nausėda – President of Lithuania
The President mentioned that the increased 3SI cooperation should consolidate cross-border projects that focus on generating an enhanced collective resilience in the face of new threats, especially when it comes to those emerging due to the war in Ukraine, in line with the perspectives and approaches that were presented during the last NATO Summit in Vilnius.
Moreover, his excellency firmly believes that the 3SI can step-up its involvement in the region to foster a complete decoupling from Russian resources and to offer increased support to Ukraine, seeking to continue working with „like-minded people that will drive forward the successful path of the initiative”.
Let us rebuild Ukraine before the end of the war and create solidarity corridors.Gitanas Nausėda – President of Lithuania.
Q&A Session Klaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania
When asked about the change of information in respect to the initial statements surrounding the drone attack that happened earlier these days on Romania’s territory, the President believes that „we must understand we have a fluid situation”, with our entire communication being based on the available evidence, without being able to „make statements that would commit the entire Romanian state”. Also, he reiterated that, in light of the discovery of new parts, an extensive expert investigation will be carried out with the necessary actions being taken afterwards.
Q&A Session Andrzej Duda – President of Poland
When asked about the concrete steps that will be taken by the organization in the following years, to reach its assumed objectives, the President stated that „it doesn’t work by inventing solutions but rather ideas that will be implemented after thorough discussions”, reiterating the need to concomitantly implement joint approaches across all 3SI members and partners. Furthermore, his excellency commented that „we are very happy that the 3SI is not only happening at this high level but also at the regional levels” with numerous local authorities co-working outside of the main events and agenda, all while striving to find new ways through which they can unify their efforts.
Q&A Session Klaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania and Andrej Plenković – Prime Minister of Croatia
When asked if the recent Danube attacks can alter the export of Ukrainian grains, the President stated that „we faced a lot of challenges at the beginning, since our logistics were not ready for such levels of transits, and we managed to change things very fast by increasing our capacity and adapting to the new realities”. In this context, his excellency believes that the recent developments might indeed „temporarily slow down the flow of grains” but that alternative solutions are already being implemented and will swiftly be operationalized to „prevent a global famine” and maintain the export flows.
The Prime-Minister added that „we have offered more possibilities for the grains to go through our ports”, this redistribution representing a direction in which they actively work to support Ukraine and Romania adapt as fast as possible to new risks, liaising with both governments to prevent any possible disruptions to the European and global supply chains.
Q&A Session Gitanas Nausėda – President of Lithuania
When asked about the ban of exports of the grains from Ukraine, especially since some 3SI members had a different stance on the issue, aspect that could lead to tensions within the organization, the President considers that even though „we cannot compete with the major channels that transport Ukrainian grains”, there is still hope because through the 3SI’s collective efforts almost 3 million tons of grains per year can be redirected throughout the region by employing alternative transportation routes. Moreover, his excellency also considers that all of the members will collaboratively find solutions that will not distance Ukraine, pose a threat to the supply chains nor further aggravate the situation.
16:46 – Plenary discussions with closed doors
All of the delegations and special guests begin deliberating on Romania’s mandate report and draft the Joint Declaration, a document which will set the prospective directions of 3SI, alongside the necessary mechanisms or instruments to reach them.
16:15 – Plenary Session
The representatives of all 3SI states, alongside its strategic partners (USA, European Commission and Germany), special guests (Greece, Ukraine, Moldova, Japan, UK, France, Turkey), and other international organizations (EBRD, EIB, OECD, IMF and World Bank Group) had a plenary session to discuss the most stringent regional matters and the development of joint programs.
Klaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania – Opening Remarks
The President discusses the recent drone incident that happened in the Danube Region, in which a supposedly Russian drone has fallen on the Romanian territory. Stating that, if after the investigation it is proven as a deliberate attack, the incident would be considered a breach of the country’s sovereignty and integrity, accentuating that „within NATO we are very well defended” and have the necessary capacities to prevent further aggression acts.
„We welcome our big friend and we believe that your involvement in the 3SI is an important step forward.” Mentioning that the adhesion of Greece and involvement of Moldova are consolidating the organization, especially when it comes to cross-border projects that would „unlock the full economic potential of the region and protect it from the geopolitical turmoil of the region”. Also, his excellency expresses great hopes for the establishment of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund, as it would cooperatively enhance the development of key strategic domains and expand the North-South interconnection.
As long as it takes to win the war, you can count on all of us.Klaus Werner Iohannis – President of Romania (Referring to Ukraine’s President)
Volodimir Zelenski – President of Ukraine – online intervention
The live intervention of Ukraine’s President accentuates that the recent attacks are a direct threat to the entire 3SI bloc, as they happened in „our neighborhood” and that they will „bear consequences”. He accentuated that the country is grateful to its partners and their nations as they all stood together in supporting „our common freedom and our European road” in such a difficult context. His excellency also underlines the need to enhance regional cooperation, in order to „survive in the face of this Russian Terror”, stressing the direct and indirect implications the conflict bears for all European countries.
16:10 – Photo session with the participants
A collective photo session with the delegation members and guests is held within the main entrance of the Palace of Cotroceni.
15:35 – Arrival of the Heads of Delegations and official welcoming by the President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis
The official delegations of all 12 member states, alongside the special guests of 3SI, are welcomed at the Presidential Administration of Romania.
13:30 – The President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, meeting with the President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen
During this adjacent meeting to the 3SI summit, the two presidents discussed about the prospective adhesion of Romania to Schengen in the near future and „made substantial progress” when it comes to the security situation in Europe. Moreover they also talked about the possible EU expansion and the support 3SI countries can offer to adhesion partners.
12:30 – The President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, meeting with the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu
In this subsequent meeting for the 3SI Summit, both presidents had „a very productive and positive discussion” about the future of Moldova in the initiative, congratulating them for their new status as an associate participant. Also, they have talked about the EU and Trans-Atlantic trajectories of Chișinău, including the continued support offered towards opening the adhesion negotiation for the EU and further expanding strategic connections.