Michael R. Pompeo speaking to camera in studio while sitting at desk (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo speaks to the Three Seas Virtual Summit and Web Forum from the U.S. Department of State in Washington on October 19. (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)

The United States and partner nations are strengthening freedom and prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe while standing against threats from authoritarian regimes.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo told the Three Seas Virtual Summit and Web Forum, hosted by Estonia on October 19, that a commitment to open and sustainable energy and infrastructure development can drive economic security for generations.

“We’ve got real opportunities in front of us to improve the lives of our people. We must seize them,” Pompeo said. “We have an opportunity to jump-start growth and attract private sector investment now, while raising living standards for the long term.”

Pompeo congratulated the 12 European nations of the Three Seas Initiative on their successful cooperation on energy projects. He said transparent, accountable and sustainable infrastructure projects are essential to securing private sector investment.

He contrasted that approach with development models that leave countries facing unsustainable debt and threats to their sovereignty.

“Right now, as we sit here, the authoritarians in Moscow and Beijing are dangling infrastructure deals as a way to gain strategic and political leverage over free people,” Pompeo said.

The Three Seas Initiative, founded in 2015, works to increase economic engagement among Central and Eastern European countries around the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas.

Its members are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

At the summit, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to invest up to $1 billion in Three Seas infrastructure projects through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, which brings U.S. private sector investment to countries around the world.

“As you move forward, you should know you will not be alone. America is with you,” Pompeo said. “Our countries are bound by so much more than fiber-optic cables or pipelines or roads. We stand with our European friends on the mighty bedrock of freedom and democracy, a foundation of friendship now and for the ages to come.”