''The area of the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Sea is the ''lifeline'' of Europe and around 50 billion Euros will be needed for its future development'', said the Croatian president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic at the opening of the Dubrovnik Forum 2016 with her Polish colleague Andrzej Duda 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'', emphasized Grabar Kitarovic.
She also explained that due to historical reasons this area was way behind the European average. After the unification it was insisted on the re-building of relations between east and west, whilst the connection between north and south was ignored. ''The Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea (BABS) region accounts for 28 percent of the EU's territory and 22 percent of its population, but makes only 10 percent of the EU's GDP. The nominal GDP per capita is around 14,750 Euros on average which is only about 51 percent of the nominal GDP per capita average in the European Union'', commented the Croatian president.
The presidents attending the round table debate called "The Three Seas Initiative" 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. ''The initiative is an informal one. Its purpose is 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'', said Grabar-Kitarovic.
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.