Croatia: BABS Forum Takes Charge Of Central-Eastern Europe Destiny

BABS Forum Dubrovnik 2016 From left: Presidents of Hungary Janos Ader, Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite, Poland Andrzej Duda, Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev and Slovenia Borut Pahor Photo: HINA

BABS Forum Dubrovnik 2016
From left First Row: Presidents of Hungary Janos Ader,
Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite,
Poland Andrzej Duda, Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic,
Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev and Slovenia Borut Pahor
Photo: HINA


The area of the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea is Europe’s lifeblood and around 50 billion Euros investment will be needed for its future development”, said the Croatian president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic at the opening of the Baltic-Adriatic-Black Sea (BABS) Forum 2016 with her Polish colleague Andrzej Duda in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on Thursday, 25th of August.

Twelve EU member countries– Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia surrounded by the three seas have had great opportunities to strengthen cooperation that would benefit not only these twelve EU country members but the whole European Union”, emphasised Grabar Kitarovic.

The presidents attending the round table debate called “The Three Seas Initiative” in Dubrovnik adopted a declaration constituting a political framework for support to concrete projects designed to help Central and Eastern Europe develop to the level of other EU countries.

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic at BABS 2016 opening Dubrovnik 25 - 26 August 2016 Photo: Dubrovnik Times

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at BABS 2016 opening
Dubrovnik 25 – 26 August 2016
Photo: Dubrovnik Times

In order to achieve the average of the European Union we must face a number of challenges, underlined President Grabar-Kitarović. Speaking about the challenges, the President referred to the demographic situation and issue of large scale emigration of young people, the new security challenges that face this part of Europe, the challenge of Brexit and centrifugal forces and fragmentation that can be felt in the European Union. ‘We have to prove to our citizens that the EU delivers on the issues vital to them: jobs, mobility and security. I would dare to claim that this Initiative can deliver on all the mentioned issues,’ emphasized President Grabar-Kitarović.
In that sense, the President emphasised key points of the Three Seas Initiative, an informal platform to strengthen the overall political, economic, infrastructure and security cooperation in authentic Central Europe. She spoke of the goals of the Initiative – to establish a framework for decisive action in securing political support for specific cross-border strategic projects of interest to the States involved, without creating a parallel structure to the existing European and transatlantic associations and mechanisms of cooperation. Further goals of the Initiative are to facilitate intergovernmental coordination and cooperation along the corridor Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea and attract the proactive engagement of the business community for innovations and investments,” says this extract of the Office of President Grabar-Kitarovic website write-up on the Dubrovnik Forum.
‘The Three Seas Initiative is an informal one, but endorsed nevertheless by those that hold ultimate influence in the region. Its purpose is, according to Grabar-Kitarovic, not disassociation from the EU but removing differences between the EU members that have enjoyed the benefits of democracy, freedom and free market for decades and those that joined the EU later.

The Dubrovnik conference also discussed challenges faced by the EU such as Brexit and global challenges such as the migrant crisis, security and Russia’s influence.

Dubrovnik Forum Three Seas Initiative discussion Photo: Screenshot Office of President of CRoatia

Dubrovnik Forum
Three Seas Initiative discussion
Photo: Screenshot Office of President of Croatia

This Baltic-Adriatic-Black Sea (BABS) 2016 forum brought together an impressive gathering of power and decision-makers – six presidents and high-ranking government officials from 12 EU countries located between the three seas (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) and also during the proceedings joined by non-EU countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. A panel discussion at the “Strengthening European energy security” looked at the benefits of energy cooperation in BABS and the role of LNG terminals linking north and south Europe.

Connecting the LNG terminal in Poland with one planned on the island of Krk in Croatia is among the energy projects that BABS region countries want to implement in order to boost competitiveness and development, Croatia’s president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, said addressing forum at the opening ceremony August 25.


President Duda pointed out the importance of energy connections. “The dominance of a single supplier for the region is harmful and dangerous”, he said adding that development of the gas corridor between the north and the south, as well as the LNG terminal on the island of Krk are important.

The next meeting of BABS will take place in Wroclaw in June 2017.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite at Dubrovnik Forum Photo:

Lithuanian President
Dalia Grybauskaite
at Dubrovnik Forum

Chinese and American speakers were also present at this Dubrovnik Forum. Chinese Ministerial Assistant for Foreign Affairs Liu Haixing in charge of Central and Eastern Europe region recalled that China was very interested in the development of the area. China believes it will serve her project of New Silk Road.

American General James L. Jones, president of Jones Group International and former adviser for the National Security of President Obama said that the development of the Three Seas Initiative must be an element not only for European development but also for security. General Jones stressed the use by Russia of her position as an energy supplier to increase her economic influence and to strengthen her geopolitical goals.

During the days of BABS Forum in Dubrovnik four countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro signed a memorandum of understanding with the executives of Azerbaijani oil and gas company SOCAR, which relates to the development of the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP)/ Trans-Adriatic-Pipeline (TAP) designed to bring gas from Shah Deniz 2 field in the Caspian Sea to EU through the so-called Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) after 2020.
Croatia’s economy minister Tomislav Panenic said that the future pipeline would provide gas supplies for south-eastern Europe. “We have defined our joint initiative for the development of the Ionian-Adriatic gas pipeline as a route that will make sure that these markets are provided with gas. We hope that this route will be a connection between the north and the south and that this may pave the way for a full liberalisation of the gas market in Europe,” he said, Croatian news agency Hina reported.

Dugopolje-Split Gas Pipeline works Photo: EVN/Seenews

Dugopolje-Split Croatia Gas Pipeline works
Photo: EVN/Seenews

In 2007, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania signed a declaration on the IAP, which is planned to carry natural gas from Albania’s Fier via Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to Split in Croatia. IAP would be connected with the 870-kilometre Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which should transport gas from Shah Deniz II, Azerbaijan, via Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea, to Italy. The IAP gas pipeline, with a length of 516 kilometers, is planned to have a capacity of five billion cubic meters annually.
Serbia, although in the region in question where or around which these gas supplies into Europe are to pass, was not represented at this BABS Forum in Dubrovnik. Most media would like us to think that Serbia’s absence from this important forum was associated with the recently soured relations and political tensions between Serbia and Croatia due to recent vicious political attacks by Serbian leadership against Croatia. But I reckon, given that Serbia is and always will be very close to Russia – it did not hurt Serbia’s political arithmetic not to attend Dubrovnik Forum where matters on the agenda such as gas supplies posed direct threats to sizeable Russian gas supplies to Europe, in the foreseeable future. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. HRVOJE MRAVAK says:

    in the short to long term solar energy will rule everything

  2. I don’t think much of that Lithuanian president! Give me the Croatian one any day! PHWOOOOOOAR!
    I love politics Ina 😀

  3. The sceptic in me thinks it’s all about offshore drilling/energy; this means destroying our environment and polluting. I doubt they ever tell us the real truth as to what happens behind closed doors.. “Hey, in front of camera, tell them it’s all renewable energy, they don’t need to know the real truth otherwise they will try and prevent us from this”. I returned to Croatia after 42 years of living in Canada, I love my country, I want it to thrive, I want people to stop leaving and stay here, but we need to stop voting for the same shit every election time; time to change the political spectrum, for people to wake up and realize we are like the US, a two party political system, once the show is done, they all go out and party together laughing at us for thinking we had a choice. This is what has to change before any foreign investment can be implemented “for the people”. I doubt that anything will improve or change as long as we are part of this unelected, un-democratic EU mafija system. Just my thoughts.

    • I agree Ines, the two camp/party system only recycles problems and lack of progress. Ne “blood” in politics could flow but more people need to get together rather than what we see now – dozens of little groups calling themselves political parties…all over the shop really

      • It’s what I tell people whenever they complain about something. “Do something about it”. I stand up and say what I have to say, I don’t allow government clerks to treat me like shit, when they do I simply tell them: “Pazite kako razgovarate samnom, ja nisam vasa sluga, vi ste moja sluga i ja vas placam”. They never get told this way and when they hear me say this, they mutter and walk away because they don’t know how to apologize. I don’t let anyone try and tell me what to do or mistreat me and I let them know they can’t treat me like shit. If we all did this, we might just get them to realize we are the ones that can change everything if we just stand up for ourselves. Individually, we can’t change the world, but we can all do our little part and that is to stop complaining and do something to change what you’re not happy with. Our silence is their power, that’s the only power they have, our silence.

      • There are only a few assertive people towards public servants in Croatia like yourself Ines – most people are afraid if they say something in protection of their rights the public servant will somehow cause them problems or damage – that is the mentality and power of public service ingrained during the 5 decades of communism and you have spent most of your life I presume in Canada which is a difference – most public servants are obliging and “public servants” knowing taxmoney funds their job. Croatia has a great deal in educating people how democracy works in everyday life and its processes, politicians have mostly been preoccupied with retaining a cushy job, sadly and they do not want advice from people like you who seem to know much about life in a free and democratic society however that free and democracy society may be faulty it’s still miles ahead of the free and democratic one in Croatia which carries heavy burden from communist regime inflexibility

      • Maybe it’s time to start educating people on their rights, their real rights and empower them. I think that many Croatians just feel tired of everything but afraid to stand up for themselves. I have told my partner many times that in order to really have a good chance of success in this country we need to get rid of every politician over 40 and replace them with younger generations. We need new thinkers, creative people and non-political in a way. Unfortunately, I think that Oreskovic failed because he wasn’t political so he was chewed up and spitten out. Politicians are manipulative orators, they have psychopaths write their speeches so that they can fool us into believing what they want us to believe. All you have to do is look at our Mass Media and then look at RT News or Press TV…it’s like black and white…who is telling the truth? I know who but it’s not for me to say it’s just my opinion and as far as I am concerned, opinions don’t mean shit anymore. Show me the money!

      • Definitely people need empowerment and to achieve that a good cleansing of politicians needed I think, Ines. Croatia has a lot of bright young people, professionally minded and hopefully they’ll grow into an army to take up a good slice of political action too.

  4. Seems like Eastern Europe has emerged as its own statehood with like interests and ideologies that are in contrast to the central countries. Maybe watching their slide (Germany, France, Sweden, etc…) into oblivion will create a new European union that divests itself from the rhetoric of refugees and EU Commission…

    • Watching this too, Helena – power fractions and faction around real interests are shaping up as the EU seems more and more about a union of “unequals” where some dictate terms of life…

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