Presentation at conference „From Intermarium to Three Seas Initiative. Integration and Collective Security Conceptions in Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries”

Connecting the three seas: Romanian political and economic endeavors during the interwar period

The end of the World War I left East-Central Europe entirely transformed. Enlarged, reborn or newly founded states replaced the once mighty powers of the area. Tsarist Russia in the east was replaced by an even more dictatorial regime with a new ideology, Soviet Russia (Union). In this international setting Romania and the countries of this region aimed at replacing the vacuum left by a dying world with a new échafaudage of power built around the states now holding power in the region. One of the most influential concepts was Intermarium (Międzymorze) of Polish marshal Józef Piłsudski. Such ideas were however shared also at the top of Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one of the supporters of a political alliance from the Aegean to Black Sea and Baltic Sea being the influential head of Romanian diplomacy Take Ionescu.

This paper tackles by making use of archival sources from Romania and Baltic states the ideas that flourished already from the beginning of the interwar period in Romania regarding especially the connection between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea in terms of both politics and security, on one hand, and trade, on the other hand.

The critical investigation of archival material and the use of other sources will show how the conception was born, how it evolved and what concrete steps, i.e. the Romanian-Polish alliance and the Little Entente of 1921 were achieved in order to bring it to life. On the hand, the paper will look into transportation and trade plans of creating a direct water network between the three seas by cutting a channel between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea and answer the question why it had not been achieved during the interwar period and what legacy remains of that idea in East-Central Europe.

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