The Three Seas Initiative and Donald Trump

On June 9 the White House Office of the Press Secretary announced the upcoming visit of President Trump to Poland at the invitation of Polish President Andrzej Duda in advance of the G20 Summit in Hamburg. At the end of the short statement we learned that, in addition to meeting with Duda and delivering a major speech, “he will attend the Three Seas Initiative Summit to demonstrate our strong ties to Central Europe.”

SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence announced that “this visit deserves to be closely monitored for it will reveal more about the Trump Administration’s foreign policy agenda than his previous actions.” The opinion piece considered Trump’s presence at the Three Seas Initiative Summit especially meaningful since Poland’s current political elite is advancing the idea of Intermarium, a Polish-dominated confederation that would include the Baltic States, Ukraine, and possibly also the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia. It is supposed to serve “as a ‘cordon sanitaire’ against Russia and a counterweight to the power of Germany and the European Union.”

Before we embark on current opinions on the Three Seas Initiative, let’s look at its precedent–Intermarium, or in Polish Międzymorze, between the seas. It was a plan proposed by Józef Piłsudski, an important political figure and military leader of interwar Poland. He envisaged a confederation that, by its third iteration, would have included practically the whole of Central Europe, including Hungary. Nothing came of the plan because there were just too many conflicting national interests at work. In addition, other countries were suspicious of the whole project, which they viewed as an attempt to re-establish the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which in the seventeenth century included half of today’s Estonia, all of Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, the westernmost parts of Russia, and the larger part of Ukraine.

Józef Piłsudski’s Intermarium Plan and its different stages

A revival of the Intermarium project surfaced after the 2014 Ukrainian crisis when the present Euroatlantic arrangement couldn’t prevent the annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in Donbas. Ukraine and its neighbors were looking for alternative models for regional cooperation. At that time the concept of a modern Intermarium began gaining adherents, among them Polish President Andrzej Duda, who “is attempting to recreate the Polish long-life plan of building a natural defensive alliance among like-minded neighbors in the face of the Russian threat, and with NATO military support.”

Duda looks upon the formation of the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) as his great diplomatic feat. On August 28, 2016 a two-day meeting took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, which was attended by representatives of 12 countries, including Hungary’s president, János Áder. The Croatian president called the area between the Adriatic, the Baltic, and the Black Sea “the lifeblood of Europe.”

It is the second summit of this group that Donald Trump agreed to attend. Trump’s attendance, according to Wojciech Przybylski writing for Euobserver, will definitely put the spotlight on TSI. It is not impossible that Trump’s Polish visit is intended as “a slight against German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron.” In addition, some European leaders fear that the Polish ministry of foreign affairs can’t handle such a diplomatically sensitive visit. There is also the possibility that, after Trump’s visit, the Poles will be even more confrontational than before when dealing with the European Union, Przybylski concludes. Others, like the pro-Russian World Socialist Web Site, use stronger language. They are certain that “Trump’s meeting with the leaders of this alliance is a clear signal that the White House is reintroducing the Intermarium strategy which will exacerbate conflicts with Germany.”

Last December Vit Dostál, writing for visegradplus.org, called the Three Seas Initiative a “pipe-dream coming from Warsaw.” He may have been right because the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza cited at least one Czech diplomat who said that Prague will not attend the Three Seas event because it is far too close to the “concept of Piłsudski.” Sputnik Polska conducted an interview with Adam Wielomski, a Polish political science professor, who considers Trump’s visit to Poland and his presence at the TSI summit “support of Duda’s governing Law and Justice Party and the initiative to forge a Central and Eastern European union.”

The TSI project or, in Hungarian, “Három Tenger Kezdeményezés” was not widely covered in Hungary before the news of Trump’s attendance. MTI reported on the Dubrovnik summit, but no one was really interested in what was described as a round table discussion on energy. On the other hand, in November 2015, at a conference attended by politicians, both Jobbik’s Gábor Vona and LMP’s András Schiffer envisaged Hungary’s future in an East-Central European Union. I have not followed Schiffer’s foreign policy ideas, but Vona’s adherence to such a regional solution didn’t surprise me because a couple of months ago Matthew Kott of New Eastern Europe reported that Intermarium was hijacked by the far right in certain countries of the region.

The only serious Hungarian piece on the Three Seas Initiative and Donald Trump’s decision to attend its summit is by Attila Ara-Kovács, a foreign policy analyst, which appeared a couple of days ago. He is skeptical of the success of Duda’s project and Trump’s power to substantially influence the present geopolitical situation in Europe.

Donald Trump’s visit to Warsaw is fraught with danger. He knows absolutely nothing about the situation in Poland or, for that matter, about the whole complicated region. His visit will give a boost to the present Polish government, which is good neither for the Polish people nor for the people of the European Union.

June 29, 2017
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exTor
Guest

Intermarium is a direct challenge to the European Union. It could exist as a bloc within the EU or it could exist entirely apart from the EU, which means a splitting of the EU. Likely that is not what Polish President Duda intends.

From an Orbán-ego standpoint, Intermarium would be a better fit for the Viktor, who has often expressed his dislike of the EU. Within Intermarium, he would be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

The Russians would likely accept the concept of Intermarium, which would weaken the European Union. Russia is close politically to Byelorussia, a key component of Intermarium.

Perhaps Intermarium foreshadows another CEU, this one being the Central European Union, which would be counterposed to the Western European Union. Most Magyars would not support being in the Central EU (which would be too Slavic for their tastes, notwithstanding Orbán’s cozying to Putin, the king of Slavs) at the expense of being in the Western EU, which is where the Hungarian bread is buttered.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Observer
Guest

For the record: nothing will come out of this stupid pipe dream of the ever more loony Polish regime. Occasional banding against some EU initiatives is the most probable future, nothing new there.

Orban however will wholeheartedly embrace the idea – primarily for the craved photo-op with Trump.

wrfree
Guest

Re: Trump at the Three Seas conference

He’ll get an earful no doubt from the Baltics and learn how utterances from his mouth (NATO ‘talk’) at times rattles European cages.

The participants might also might gain some insight of Trump’s views on the Russians after they were caught meddling in the US election. They will take the measure of him as Trump has already given off particular vibes in his relationship with Putin that he could arguably be his ‘agent’ in Washington. They want to know whether ir not he will sell them down the river if and when Russia gets the feeling to do more ‘exploration’ in the European neck of the woods.

Pole
Guest
In polish media there is the biggest interest in the Three Seas Initiative. There were in last two weeks at least dozen of serious articles in newspapers and weeklies of opinions from the left to the right. Main liberal papers like Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka and Newsweek had at least one major article. Newspapers critical to Law and Order (PiS) rule see this initiative as total pipe dream or dangerous concept that can further weaken European Union. From polish governmental perspective this initiative should strenghten polish postion against Germany or looking wider: countries of old EU that consit its core. From influential advisers of ruling party like professor Andrzej Zybertowicz we hear words that the Three Seas Initiative can build position of Poland as the regional power. In his view if EU collapse under migration or Euro crisis this initiative will survive as a common project for Central Europe and will become a backbone of new Central European Union. The Three Seas Initiative is a child of powerful presidential minister Krzysztof Szczerski but it’s totally in line with Jaroslaw Kaczynski visions for whom Marshall Piłsudski is the role model. President Duda is not hevyweight independant politician in Poland and has no… Read more »
Guest
I don’t get the idea behind this crazy thinking that it would be good for Poland and Hungary etc if the EU should “collapse”! Any problems there would lead to less workers being neede – then all the Hungarians and Poles working in Germany etc would be sent home and they would lose a lot of money. Also if trade barriers were to be erected again it would hurt the weaker nations. Don’t they realise that? Maybe the EU really should stop the money flow to the East asap. PS: It’s really funny/crazy/you name it that Poland and Hungary always claim to be part of Central Europe – when they are so totally different from the other states there (like DACH) and underdeveloped – as I always tell my friends: Fifty years behind the times! A bit OT: Yesterday in my favorite kocsma we again discussed the situation in Europe, especially the EU-enemies Hungary and Poland and everybody was of the opinion that Mrs Merkel is much too lenient on them – some are hoping that the Social Democrats under Schulz might win the elections and dominate the government. Funnily enough there was a couple I didn’t know and they… Read more »
old 1956
Guest

American diplomats must understand the significance of the EU.

A strong EU is the guarantee for the freedom of Europe.

This silly Intermarium dream must be quickly shelved.

It is probably a pet project of the Kremlin, but will be presented as a fake Polish proposal.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Áder – president of the billboard republic – a plakáttársasági elnöke – signed the ‘billboard bill’.
HOW LOW CAN FIDESZ&CO GO?
And the main question for the future: Are they able to go even lower? Most likely answer: YES, they can!
(to avoid brain damage strongly recommended: DO NOT try to imagine what that can be)

In my native language there is a slang term for such people, which translates as: easy mark or cat’s-paw – in Hungarian: palimadár.
A mirror translation gives (in Hungarian): “f*szok a tapétázók”, I think from today on this needs to be updated to “p*cskék a plakátázók” (valid for all persons in and around Fidesz).

PS: I think they need to update also their own “FundaMental Law”:
FOUNDATION – Article B
(1) Hungary shall be an independent, billboard rule-of-slogan State.
(2) The form of government of Hungary shall be a cat’s-paw troupe.

Istvan
Guest
Estonia and Latvia are totally indefensible from a NATO perspective from a Russian invasion. Lithuania only currently defendable for a few days at most. The rotation of US Army forces in the Baltic nations is effectively a potential death sentence for those troops should Russia invade. An additional 600 U.S. paratroopers are going to the Baltics to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank during Russian war games to be held on the border of those nations this fall the Russians call Zapad 2017. Those troops would be immediately doomed too in the event of an invasion. The US Army 16th Sustainment Brigade is part of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command which is the evolution of the unit I was assigned to following my service in Vietnam is located in Baumholder, Germany, simply can’t support even just the US forces in the Baltic countries, let alone the handful of other NATO troops, in the event of a Russian invasion. Because of the Russian built S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft air defenses would be particularly effective and prevent rapid resupply by air from Germany.  In addition, it’s been reported that Russia is now developing an upgraded S-500 air defense system able to find and… Read more »
Guest

Istvan,
can you really imagine Putin in a war against the EU, NATO and the USA?
Surely he knows that would mean total isolation for his country and any allies – no one could stay neutral there.
The economic consequences of this are unimaginable (at least for me) – it would mean a large step backward for humanity!

People didn’t care too much about the invasion of Crimea and part of the UKraine – but invading the Baltic states would be comparable to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
A long, long bitter war would surely follow and imho Russia is not as strong economically as Putin may believe …

petofi
Guest

In simple, strategic terms, a Russian attack on Europe is inconceivable because a weakening of the eastern flank would bring a Chinese attack on Siberia…

wrfree
Guest

‘Inconceivable?’ Statistically I’d think the probabilities are higher for disaster. With the mix of ‘push-button’ thin- skinned emotional Trump and the realist Russian Machiavelli the European tinderbox always has fresh kindling to start a conflagration. Ukraine is already lit. No wonder the Baltics are quaking in their boots.

Europe in a way is just like the North Korean theater. The only difference is Kim knows he’s crazy and diabolical to everybody who opines on the regime so everyone walks on egg shells.

With the diplomatic ‘tag team’ of Trump and Putin Europe and Asia will have to wait to see their soufflé. That menu is on hold as they haven’t broken any eggs yet. But the coffee is brewing. Who will get the bitter grinds?

Istvan
Guest
Militarily speaking, the three Baltic states are isolated from other NATO members. To the north of the Baltic states are non-NATO (but friendly) Finland and Sweden. To the south and east are Russia and Belarus. To the west, Lithuania shares a border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Only Lithuania shares a land border with another non-Baltic NATO member: a tiny 65-mile border with Poland to the southwest between Kaliningrad and Belarus. So they strategically could be written off by NATO. The US and NATO troops currently in the Baltics would be in short order be rapidly crushed and not able to be resupplied. Then NATO would be forced to consider at least tactical nuclear attacks on Russian forces, it would not be supported and we would go back into a full Cold War situation effectively conceding the Baltics to Russia. In the Rand study I cited that is called the “third option.” The idea that China would risk a nuclear exchange with Russia to seize part of its land mass seems highly unlikely to me. Moreover Russia could seize the Baltics just with about the troops being sent to the border area this fall, about 750,000, they do not… Read more »
Guest

Yes, it could be an easy victory for Putin – but then, what about the relation of Russia to the rest of the world – or at least the civilised part of it?

Russia would be an outsider, hated (and feared …) by everybody imho – just like Hitler’s Germany.

Rather OT:
I just read the German magazine SPIEGEL again – for evrybody who can read German:
There are several very interesting articles – one on the US “alt right” personified by Yannopolis (probably got the name wrong) and about his relation to Steve Bannon and breitbart.com – fascinating in a way.
These guys are so far off the “normal” way of living – cheating and lying are a way of life for them, the main point is being talked about …

Member

Istvan, why would Putin occupy the Baltics ?
What could he gain from it ?

Estonia, Latvia and Finland had special status in the pre-ww1 Russian Empire, as opposed to the Ukraine.”Similarly to guberniyas of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, the Baltic Governorates until the end of 19th century were not a subject to the common civil and administrative laws of the Russian Empire,”

Tsarist Russia (and I suspect Putin’s Russia) regarded itself as the leader of all Slavs and the protector of all Greek Orthodox. Protestant and non-Slav Finland, Estonia and Latvia, Catholic and non-Slav Lithuania were not ideological targets.

Observer
Guest

Istvan, Guys

Pls get real. Let’s not have a TSI kind of thing here.
Where’s the money and what would be the benefit/balance for Russia in such an adventure? They cannot even prop up Crimea economically.
And the Ukrainian crisis and are the mid Asian states are there to handle, and then Turkey, Iran, China, …. C’on.

Observer
Guest

BTW Central Europe was never in the Russian Empire, it was retained as a defence belt by the USSR only after WWII and then abandoned. Tzarist Russian troops operated in Europe (Eastern Poland excluded, no Baltic states at the time) only as allies of , e.g. Habsburgs, Prussians.

Istvan
Guest

All I can say Observer is that very serious people are contemplating the situation I have raised here in the USA. I am not alone in expressing these thoughts.

wrfree
Guest

And I too would prefer not to be whistlin’ Dixie on this. Fail to plan. Plan to fail.

Member

The unlawful billboard law. (unlawful by Fidesz’s own “basic law” – a law requiring 2/3 constitutional majority was pushed through by simple majority, and signed by Fidesz apparatchik “fejbólintó János” Ader)

A.
By the time the Fidesz-appointed “Constitutional Court” rules on this bill (which is effective immediately), the 2018 election is over.

B.
2010 election: Simicska’s Mahir gave the billboard space to Fidesz for 5000 HUF/billboard, which was 3% (!) of the market value

2017 spring: same company gave the space for the anti-Fidesz Jobbik campaign (“[while] you work, they steal”) for 8500 HUF/billboard

from July 15, 2017: [opposition] parties are mandated to pay 100% of the list price for billboard space, but the government and its fake NGO are exempted.

http://24.hu/belfold/2017/06/29/plakathaboru-orbanek-lekoroztek-kedvezmenyekben-a-jobbikot/

C.
Fidesz submitted fraudulent numbers about its billboard spending after the 2010 campaign.

Fidesz numbers, submitted by law: 35.7 million,
Actual numbers: 98.2 million HUF
(and this was after receiving a 97% discount from Simicska)

http://24.hu/belfold/2017/06/30/atverte-a-fidesz-az-asz-t-a-2010-es-valasztas-elszamolasanal/

Member

To put it in another way.

In the 2018 election campaign, the opposition parties (which have very limited financial resources) have to pay about 15 times as much for billboard space as the government with unlimited resources.

Member

Note: the unlevel playing fields in television and radio commercials and in newspaper ads were already created for the Orban regime before the 2014 election.

Ferenc
Guest

This whole thing might develop into a billboard war, if Simicska finds a way around the law (e.g.by using order of companies instead of parties).
What if a company orders a billboard referring (indirectly, but obvious enough) to the Jobbik ones, without mentioning jobbik or any other party.
Can Fidesz with the new (illegal) law in hand do anything (supposedly legal) against it? I don’t know, but very curious…

PS: if Simicska finds the way around, would he offer it to other parties than Jobbik? Don’t know, and also don’t know if any other party would step into such offer.

Member
Member

Anti-Soros campaign on state television, financed by the Orban government.

Member

Soros = Gülen = Тро́цкий = Goldstein

Member

The connection between Rogan (Orban’s propaganda minister) and skinhead underworld figures “Playdough” (who just committed a double vehicular homicide without having a license and was not even arrested) and “Muscle” (whose people guard police buildings).

https://444.hu/2017/06/30/a-dozsa-gyorgy-uton-balesetezo-m-richard-viszi-ma-a-belvarosi-pizzeriat-aminek-elozo-tulajat-szervezett-bunozok-uldoztek-le-magyarorszagrol

Member

Orbanistan 2017.

The following is not a joke! The following is a sad joke:

The Orban government has given 500 million forints (mainly EU money) to develop a perpetuum mobile (perpetual motion machine)

https://atlatszo.hu/2017/06/29/ingyenenergia-gep-fejleszteset-tamogatta-490-millio-unios-forinttal-a-nemzetgazdasagi-miniszterium/

Conservation of energy is a law in physics.
Conservation of EU money is not a law in Europe.

Member

There is something wrong with the map. Apart from the anachronism, both in Pilsudski’s three versions and in the present-day Polish concept Romania is featured as an integral part of Intermarium or the “Three Seas” zone. In fact, it was and is very much based on a Polish-Romanian anti-Russian axis

R. di Mare
Guest

You completely misunderstand the purpose of the Three Seas Intitiative (TSI), as do many in the combox. The TSI is NOT an anti-European initiative. It is an initiative that seeks to strengthen the eastern flank of the EU in terms of infrastructure, energy security, technology, military, and modernization. The eastern flank shares unique security concerns within the EU and has specific needs that it must address. The flank also shares a communist past that means that similar modernization is required across the region. This can only help the EU. It would fortify what is a bulwark against Russian aggression. It would enrich the region and help bring it up to speed. If anyone opposes that, then he is an anti-European, pro-imperialist wolf in pro-European sheep’s clothing. Not only will it be good for the CEE member states, but for the EU as a whole.

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