The CEI will start off again from Trieste with a “Declaration” in which the Foreign Ministers of the Member States will commit to start cooperating in this growingly strategic area between West and East, capable of supporting new geopolitical conditions and challenges. The statement was made by the Italian Foreign Minister, Enzo Moaveri Milanesi, who will be chairing the summit held today and tomorrow to “close ranks” and act in unison.
The CEI wants to start off again from Trieste to close ranks among local authorities and thus create a solid foundation for cooperation in this evermore strategically important area. What will be the role of Italy?
This year, Italy has an important role and responsibility because it holds the Presidency of the CEI, which celebrates its 30th anniversary from its foundation and covers a strategic geographic area: it is the hinge with Eastern Europe and further on, a bridge to Asia. Our Presidency intends to promote the CEI’s great potential as a working forum for 17 Member States that cooperate in a multitude of areas. Among these, let me recall: actions to assure security, combat terrorism and international crime; economic cooperation, including the possibility of discussing investments, especially in transport and energy infrastructure; protecting the environment and the multifaceted artistic, historic and cultural heritage; product quality and consumer protection; scientific research and innovation; networking of schools, universities and training institutes. We will make an in-depth analysis of these issues in the meetings scheduled today and tomorrow with the other Foreign Ministers and we intend to ratify them as common objectives in an ad hoc and innovative “Trieste Declaration” to be adopted by the Foreign Ministers. Another novelty aims to meet the requests of the representatives of the MPs of Member States who ask to create a “local dimension of CEI” that might involve local territories and authorities in developing and implementing projects as compliant as possible with their aspirations and needs.
And what is the role of Trieste, which looks to the East and even to the Far East, namely the Silk Road…
The choice of Trieste to host the CEI Foreign Ministers Meeting arises precisely from its historic and geographic vocation and its natural cosmopolitanism. Trieste, a real crossroads of cultures, best expresses the deep spirit of the CEI: to work in mutual respect, drawing upon our respective traditions and socio-economic conditions, to build a synthesis that, deeply rooted in the past, might look at the future. Trieste also vaunts the stimulating presence of research centres of excellence that attract the best talents of Europe and of the world. In addition, thanks to its particular location as a centuries-old Mediterranean port, Trieste is a natural point of reference for connections between Europe and Asia, both by land and by sea. I think that we must put our stakes on Trieste, on its synergy with neighbouring ports and on its railway connections in making the necessary investments to relaunch this crucial trading hub. Indeed, it is sufficient to look at a geographical map to see that a ship coming from the Far East, from Southeast Asia, India or the eastern coast of Africa through the Suez Canal, finds harbour in the Northern Adriatic Sea after only a short period of navigation. Well-equipped with spearheading infrastructure technologies, the “Trieste System” (port, rail, roads and airport) can constitute a more competitive platform to access Europe’s fastest growing regions than its Northern European competitors, precisely thanks to the proximity factor.
Last week, the Three Seas Initiative met in Ljubljana at which, allow me to say, Italy was strangely absent. Why?
In actual fact, Italy was not absent because we accepted, assuring a good attendance thereto, the invitation extended from Slovenia to Italian companies to participate in the Business Forum organised as a side event to the Three Seas Initiative meeting that took place in Ljubljana last 5 and 6 June. The Initiative was created in 2015 and unites the Heads of State of a dozen or so Countries, all of which are members of the European Union and part of which are also CEI members. Its main aim is to favour connections in the region bordering on the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black Sea. We are evaluating forms of membership similar to the observer status recently taken on by Germany.
Central and Eastern Europe is the setting of an important competition that is being played out on “the geopolitics of energy”, what role can the CEI play in this sort of game of RisiKo?
With reference to energy, we should not forget that Russia is the largest gas supplier of Italy and of Europe. Gas arrives through pipelines that cross Central and Eastern Europe and branch out to our peninsula and to the Balkans. The CEI, considering its Member States, can certainly facilitate a more than useful coordination, especially to assure the efficiency of installations and of negotiations with producer Countries. Allow me to emphasise that the CEI has a broad scope of action: its principal goals include promoting sustainable energy policies. The Action Plan 2018-2020 recalls the need to convert fossil fuel consumptions by fostering public and private investments in renewable energy sources. Therefore, the CEI is committed to favour a ‘green’ economy and believes in its growth and job creating potential.
Since its creation, the CEI has been a sort of incubator for the States in the EU accession process. Today, one of these States is Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is witnessing a dangerous political stalemate, with no government at more than six months from elections and where the Serbian component is hostile. Can the CEI facilitate its road to Brussels?
The CEI has always supported the EU accession process of some of its member States and this also applies to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The EU accession process is very detailed in its structure, requires significant reforms and can be very long. The CEI is a good training ground. However, it is misleading to confuse the CEI with a sort of antechamber to the EU. The Organization has a raison d’être of its own, founded on specific local synergies and on common goals that can be achieved through common action, regardless of membership to the EU.