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Montenegro explores economic opportunities through the Three Seas Initiative

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The recent Three Seas Initiative summit has opened up promising new avenues for economic cooperation between Montenegro and the European Union’s member states bordering the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas.

Led by Montenegro’s President Jakov Milatović, the Montenegrin delegation participated in the ninth summit of the initiative in Vilnius earlier this month, responding to an invitation from Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. This engagement follows diplomatic efforts by President Milatović and earlier expressions of interest from Montenegro’s diplomatic circles in joining the initiative.

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During the summit, President Milatović emphasized the alignment of the Three Seas Initiative’s vision with Montenegro’s objectives within the framework of the European integration process. This vision encompasses bolstering connectivity, advancing economic development, strengthening energy security, and enhancing cyber-security in the region.

The Three Seas Initiative, launched officially in 2015, brings together 12 countries situated between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas. Its overarching goal is to promote shared interests and projects aimed at accelerating development and reducing economic disparities with Western Europe.

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Mladen Grgić, economic advisor to Montenegro’s President, highlights Croatia’s role as one of the initiative’s founders and its collaboration with Montenegro in significant projects under the Initiative, notably the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline.

Grgić elaborates on the significance of the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline project, which would establish a new energy corridor for the Western Balkans within the Southern Gas Corridor, facilitating natural gas supply from the Middle East and the Caspian Sea region. He underscores the potential for bi-directional gas flow and its compatibility with LNG projects on the island of Krk and potentially in Bar, Montenegro.

Efforts to accelerate work on the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline project are deemed crucial to demonstrate Montenegro’s commitment and credibility to its partners, countering any perception that it might be hindering the project’s development.

Moreover, the Three Seas Initiative incorporates a robust economic component, evident in the organization of a business forum during the summit. This forum attracts leading companies from transportation, digitization, and energy sectors, fostering collaboration on joint projects among member countries and strategic partners like the EU, Germany, and Japan.

An essential aspect of the Initiative’s significance lies in the unified support it provides to projects within the European Union, granting them 12 votes during fund allocation processes. This consolidated backing significantly enhances the prospects of securing grants for these projects.

Finally, the Initiative has acquired a new security dimension, especially pertinent since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine. Strengthening infrastructure connectivity, energy independence, resilience, and cyber-security contributes to reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank, underscoring the Initiative’s strategic importance.

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