Date: 4 June 2024  Author: Bence Frisch

How can Hungary benefit from the Three Seas Initiative?

How has been a member of the Three Seas Initiative since 2015. The country’s position and role in the Three Seas Initiative is significant in several respects. The question may arise as to how the country actually views the Initiative



Hungary’s position in the region

Hungary is particularly interested in the type of cooperation, which the Initiative represents. The importance of it may be essential for the implementation of development projects in the Central European region, which has a high economic development potential and meets its own needs. This will allow Hungary to cooperate more closely with other countries in the region and to take better advantage of common economic opportunities.

A look at the Three Seas Initiative 2022 report shows that the number of interconnection projects has reached 91 with an estimated investment value of €168.4 billion. The number of projects is steadily increasing and most of the projects could be implemented in Hungary (or Croatia) either directly or indirectly e.g., the construction of a new Tisza bridge in the Záhony area.

The country’s geography places it in a particularly favourable location, at the heart of the interconnections. The historical past in Central Europe and the favourable relations with Poland, which go back more than a thousand years, can also help to attract, and initiate projects. This could strengthen economic and political cohesion in the region and enhance Hungary’s role as a Central European player. It also has the potential to increase economic and geopolitical influence in the Central European region, even if not to such a significant extent.

Between doubts and benefits

Hungary’s geographical position as the centre of Central Europe gives it the potential to become a hub for important transit routes and infrastructure projects. This will mutually benefit the region, the Initiative and Hungary by not only linking the region, but also by placing the country at the heart of the Initiative.

At the same time, it should be stressed that Hungary thinks of the Initiative as an economic cooperation rather than as a political player or lobbyist vis-à-vis the EU or even non-EU countries. Visegrad Group and V4 countries (Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia) remain Hungary’s priority. In itself, this is not a problem, as this collaboration, because of its central nature, can even explicitly help to implement the projects set out by the Initiative. Since the policies defined by the Initiative remain relevant and appropriate for Hungary, especially in the energy sector.

As a land of opportunity

Hungary is a key player in the Initiative. However, it is up to the country where it sees itself in the future and is worth looking at how just one outcome of the Initiative could help Hungary.

The Via Carpathia project would link three ports, Klaipeda in Lithuania with Thessaloniki in Greece and Constanta in Romania, the busiest port on the Black Sea. The full length is expected to be completed by 2026.

Its Hungarian section completed as early as 2021 with the opening of the M30 subway. According to the draft proposals, liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be delivered to these three ports, located in different seas. The Via Carpathia project would bring LNG to other parts of Europe, diversifying energy sources and reducing dependence on Russia.It is a project, moreover, in which the Initiative would not be alone. The United States has already pledged financial support for the project during Donald Trump’s presidency. The project would not just be a route, but also boost trade in the region, as it would make it quicker and easier to transport goods.

At the same time, energy cooperation would be another important objective of the initiative: the three ports would be linked to economically important airports, and troops could be more easily mobilised on NATO’s eastern border. The latter is also important because Eastern Europe, and the Baltic States in particular, are essentially Europe’s Achilles’ heel in terms of defence.

Since Hungary is fundamentally dependent on Russian oil and natural gas the country has a long-term gas supply agreement with Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas company. This 15-year deal, signed in 2021, ensures that Hungary receives 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Russia. The gas is delivered through pipelines that bypass Ukraine, specifically via the TurkStream pipeline and other routes through southeastern Europe.

However, even in the ideal scenario of Via Carpathia, it would have to decide whether it is willing to change for the benefit of the Initiative and whether it is indeed willing to take advantage of and actively participate in the benefits it will bring. For in the latter case, the process of disengagement from Russia would begin. It would also mean that Hungary would partly align its foreign policy with the Initiative. As a consequence, one could no longer talk only of economic cooperation.


Szigethy Ambrus Nikoletta: Három Tenger kezdeményezés – Milyen eredményeket ért el eddig az egyezmény? Oeconomus Gazdaságkutató Alapítvány. 2023.02.15.

Karóczkai Balázs: Kelet-Európa így előzhetné meg kanyarban Nyugat-Európát. Index. 2023.12.03.

Website of the Republic of Poland: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland

Hellenic Republic Official Website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Interregional Cooperation.

Valerie Kornis: Hungary’s Perspective on the Three-Seas-Initiative.

RFE/RL’s Hungarian Service: Hungary Signs New Long-Term Gas Supply Deal With Russia. 2021.

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TAGS: Three Seas Initiative, Hungary, projects, benefit

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