“Slovenia: High interest in the complementarity of the Three Seas Initiative with EU regional development frameworks”, Ana Bojinović Fenko (CIR, Slovenia)

Slovenia positions itself within the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) based on its general understanding of the origin and potential outcomes of the initiative. First, the 3SI is understood as the US initiative originating from the interest of the Trump administration to balance the power of the Chinese 16+1 initiative that had been launched towards Central and Eastern European Countries in 2012.1 From this outlook, 3SI for Slovenia represents an important platform for strengthening transatlantic relations not merely in terms of foreign policy economic or security interests but, most importantly, as the commitment to the Euro-Atlantic community of liberal democratic states and friends in the international community.2 Slovenia does not have its own foreign policy capabilities to organise a response towards 16+1. Therefore, it has duly taken the initiative as a collective response to Chinese global interests (and those particular to Europe) within its traditional multilateral strategy prioritising European forums. The Slovenian political elite and society have been highly committed to EU values since the democratisation movements in the 1980s.3 Therefore, the Slovenian political elite views the Chinese 16+1 initiative, which might economically represent good opportunities, with scepticism based on foreign policy reservation towards authoritarian political regimes. Additionally, Chinese investment projects in many other countries of the world, including the nearby Western Balkans, have caused rather negative socio-political experiences confirming that disrespect of EU-based standards in economic and business practices is detrimental to local society and to the state governance itself.

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