In contrast to the terms „Miedzymorze” and „Intermarium”, which are commonly used in Poland and the other states in the region, the term „Three Seas Initiative” is used in Germany. In some publications, the English abbreviation 3SI is also used. However, these are economic and geopolitical publications. In journalism and science, the historical term Intermarium is avoided.
This initiative is also mainly perceived as a Polish initiative and as an element of the foreign policy of the current Polish government. The connection with the Polish ruling party and the person of the Polish President Andrzej Duda can be found in almost all German publications and analyses.
German think tanks, such as the liberal Friedrich Naumann Foundation, which is close to the FDP, have only been dealing with this topic for a few years. The analyses and publications of these institutions indicate that they are actually reactions to the ongoing consolidation of the economic area between the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic Sea as well as the Black Sea. The attention of the German media and think tanks to this topic has only been increasing since 2020. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany has been analysing and observing the 3SI much more closely and professionally than before.
At the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the relations of the Three Seas Initiative were analysed in the context of bilateral relations between individual states of this initiative and global political and economic interests with a focus on relations with China and the USA and Germany. The Foundation highlights the importance of the Investment Fund, which provides targeted funding for Intermarium projects.
„There are 51% projects supported by the initiative that are allocated to the transport sector. 32% of the fund’s financial resources support energy projects, and only 17% of the Three Seas projects support the digital sector”, the analysis stressed.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation concluded that the Czech Republic in particular is sceptical about the Three Seas Initiative, although this country is actively participating in it. The analysis from a German perspective found that the Czech Republic and other critical states, which were not named, are basically positive about the idea of Intermarium, but their criticism relates to the allegedly exaggerated objectives of this initiative, as well as the supposedly EU-sceptical character of this association.
Particularly striking in the German discussion about the Three Seas Initiative is a sharp criticism of this idea from the direction of right-wing and left-wing political camps in Germany. The right-wing conservative „Die Tagespost” published an article at the end of April on the new self-image of the countries east of the Oder and Danube after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine speaking of a new self-confidence of the Slavic peoples.
„Ultimately, this has only revealed: Germany has lost its leading role within Europe. Because of that the Eastern European countries act actively for themselves and pragmatically and the ties to Great Britain and the USA become more intense”, the Tagespost writes about Central Eastern Europe.
The importance of the United States for the Intermarium is also emphasised in other German publications. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation sees the financial support of the USA for the Investment Fund as an indirect call to implement energy projects and infrastructure investments in cooperation with the USA. The liberal think tank even speaks of a hegemonic policy of the USA in Central Eastern Europe and this rhetoric exactly resembles the articulated criticism of radical left circles in Germany towards the Intermarium.
More objective and economic is the assessment of the Three Sea Region of the Gesellschaft für Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI). The analysis of all projects and plans in the region between the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea of this organisation is more precise and professional. However, the summary states that the USA is an active partner in the investments and projects and that Germany only has an observer status. The GTAI also does not consider the 3SI to be a consensual initiative, as according to this company, the Czech Republic and Hungary would like to follow a different economic policy that is oriented towards Russia and Germany. The GTAI, however, is much more cautious and balanced in its political condemnation of the Three Seas Initiative, highlighting not only the importance of Poland for this project, but also referring to the importance of other states such as Romania.
The most important German think tank „Stiftung für Politik und Wissenschaft” (SPW) has called for German politicians to become much more involved in the structures and projects of the Intermarium. The SPW believes that Germany should not remain an onlooker of the 3SI for foreign policy reasons, as it weakens German influence on this region. The visit of the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to this year’s meeting of the Three Seas Initiative in Riga was exactly in line with the recommendations of the SPW.