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The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations Towards the United Arab Emirates



The presented research is the first such study on Austria, Croatia, Slovenia (Graz Triangle) as a part of the Three Seas Initiative from the perspective of the United Arab Emirates. After 2015, when the Three Seas Initiative was initiated, the United Arab Emirates greatly intensified its relations with this geographical area. In this study, the author relied on international practice and role theory, supported by the analytical and empirical case study method. Moreover, the researcher verified the study results through ten-year participation in many processes and phenomena of the investigated area, including as Ambassador, Senior Advisor to Dubai Expo 2020 responsible for strategies and dynamizing the Three Seas Initiative countries' relations with the United Arab Emirates. The obtained findings indicate that the Graz Triangle states have the potential for further relations development with the United Arab Emirates. However, to give its strategic significance, the implementation project should be within a broader formula, i.e., the Three Seas Initiative.
Review paper
Received: 20 May 2021
The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle
Relations Towards the United Arab Emirates
Zayed University
The presented research is the first such study on Austria, Croatia, Slovenia
(Graz Triangle) as a part of the Three Seas Initiative from the perspective of
the United Arab Emirates. After 2015, when the Three Seas Initiative was
initiated, the United Arab Emirates greatly intensified its relations with this
geographical area. In this study, the author relied on international practice
and role theory, supported by the analytical and empirical case study method.
Moreover, the researcher verified the study results through ten-year partici-
pation in many processes and phenomena of the investigated area, including
as Ambassador, Senior Advisor to Dubai Expo 2020 responsible for strate-
gies and dynamizing the Three Seas Initiative countries’ relations with the
United Arab Emirates. The obtained findings indicate that the Graz Triangle
states have the potential for further relations development with the United
Arab Emirates. However, to give its strategic significance, the implementa-
tion project should be within a broader formula, i.e., the Three Seas Initiative.
Keywords: Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Graz Triangle, United Arab Emirates,
Three Seas Initiative
Graz is a city in today’s Austria. It was established on the site of a Slavic settlement
bearing the same name. Graz in Slovenian means a small castle. The history of the
city is closely related to both Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia. From the very begin-
ning of its existence, it had the character of a stronghold. Additionally, a fortress
was built in defence against the Turks at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. In
the 21st century, in 2013, after Croatia joined the EU, the heads of the three go-
vernments met in the Grazer Burg castle. They decided to establish a new form of
cooperation called the Graz Triangle. This term is not yet part of academic and deep
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
public discourse. However, according to the research author, this project should be a
significant platform of cooperation, and not just focus on neighbourhood relations.
It should be developed in terms of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), and the Union
for the Mediterranean. In this context, it is crucial to investigate dynamics relations
between Austria, Croatia, Slovenia with partners which have recognised both initia-
tives and regions as a part of their strategy. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has
been that international player for a number of years.
The study object is the relations of Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia (Graz Trian-
gle) with the UAE, which initiated the development of relations with Zagreb and
Ljubljana just after the announcement of the 3SI. Also, Austria has had an advanced
relationship with the UAE almost since the state’s inception. It implements ambi-
tious engagement plans in the MENA area. The 3SI, announced in 2015 and cover-
ing 12 member states, forms a geopolitical triangle between the Adriatic, the Baltic,
and the Black Sea, which involves cooperation at the highest political level. The 3SI
should be seen not only from the perspective of cooperation between 12 countries.
But also, in the external dimension, between the EU and each participant of this ini-
tiative. The 3SI means that the region has more to offer. Thus, it raises the possibili-
ties of their influence in international relations, including non-European partners,
such as the UAE. In 2015, the same year, just before the announcement of the 3SI,
two Adriatic countries (3SI members) received enormous capital for implementing
its strategy towards the UAE and jointly influence the global arena. In September
2015, the UAE Mister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri visited Slovenia
for the first time and both countries signed an agreement on economic cooperation.
In July 2017, there was a historic visit to Croatia. At that time, the UAE Minister
of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.H. Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed
Al Nahyan met with the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and Prime
Minister, Andrej Plenković.
This study aims to find an answer to the research question of whether the rela-
tions of the three countries of the Graz Triangle with the UAE have the potential for
deeper and broader dynamics of their creative development with the impact on the
implementation of the 3SI and the Middle East. The answer to this question relates
to the strategic vision of the 3SI. The search for an answer to this research question
requires a critical analysis of processes, new phenomena, and changes taking place
both in the transatlantic area and in the region of the Middle East and North Africa.
Therefore, both researchers and practitioners of international relations will benefit
from this analysis. The topic discussed is of exceptional research significance be-
cause it is the first study on Graz Triangle countries’ relations with the UAE from
the 3SI perspective, which has greatly intensified their relations with this geograph-
ical area after 2015. This empirical research and its findings are the result of 10
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
years of the author’s participation, not only by observation, in many cooperation
initiatives between 3SI countries and the UAE, among others, as an Ambassador,
Senior Advisor to Dubai Expo 2020, also responsible for strategy and dynamizing
the relations of all 3SI countries with the UAE.
1. Theoretical Framework
Along with the 3SI development, there are increasing scientific studies and analy-
ses on this issue. However, so far there is no 3SI study in terms of the Graz Triangle
and its member states’ relations with the UAE. Therefore, this study is a contribu-
tion to the development of research on the 3SI, Central and Eastern Europe, and the
The theory of international practices is an appropriate analytical tool to study
the cooperation between the UAE and the Graz Triangle belonging to the 3SI. Prac-
tices are the focus of international relations analysis, as underlined by many re-
searchers, including Barnett and Finnemore’s Rules (2004) and Ringmar (2014).
International practice theory has been defined by Bueger and Gadinger (2014) as
concepts that arise through the application of practitioners’ analyses and their trans-
position into international relations theory to explain them better (Turner, 1994,
p. 43). As Schatzki (2001, p. 2) rightly points out, there is no uniform approach to
practice. For some researchers, such as Schatzki, Cetina, and von Savigny (2001),
practice is a category of analysis that produces concepts, called ‘theory of practice’.
Its crucial element is the activity of actors in international relations, both in bilat-
eral and multilateral relations. International practice theory is not a ‘conventional
theory’, but, by studying practice, it provides a creative space for discussion among
international relations researchers. Therefore, international practice theory can be
applied to international relations generating a new approach. It should also be noted
that the researcher combines understanding practices ‘from within’ and ‘from out-
side’. Therefore, Pouliot (2007), combining subjectivity and objectivity in conduct-
ing research, proposed a ‘subjectivist’ methodology. Moreover, it should be noted
that the analysis of practices takes place through the prism of the researcher’s prac-
tices. As Bourdieu (2004) emphasizes, in this way, a process of reflection follows
the cornerstone of the methodology of the practice theory.
However, international practice theory has a drawback in the context of this
article. The researcher is in a delicate position between distance and commitment.
Therefore, the author of the article adopted the role theory in international relations,
which helps explain minilateralism. There is a concept that emphasizes the ability to
forge alliances. This concept in the context of international relations was one of the
first used by Fritsch (1988) in the 1980s. However, the development of this concept
took place in the 21st century, especially after the global financial crisis. It was then
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
that Naím (2009) began to emphasize that smaller alliances are more effective in
solving problems. The presented article analyses the Graz Triangle as an example of
minilateralism and the bilateral relations of their members from the perspective of
the role theory. This concept began to be applied in the early 1970s. However, a few
years later, Rosenau (1981) presented the state’s role analysis in terms of its foreign
policy and adaptation to international changes. The role theory emphasizes defin-
ing the state role according to its potential and self-determination of one’s position
in relation to the strength of influence and the position of partners with whom they
interact (Conway & Feigert, 1987, pp. 136-139). Also, the so-called interactive ap-
proach shows how the dynamic relationships between states determine their roles
and positions. Moreover, the participants of the interaction create different positions
and roles in this system. As Keohane (2012, p. 19) emphasizes, interaction with
other countries determines their roles. They are also defined by activities aimed at
the implementation of joint projects.
The adopted international practice and role theories help to understand this
research area. In this way, the applied concepts bring the researcher closer to find-
ing the answer to the adopted research question. At the same time, the author of the
article assumed that it should be enriched and tested with appropriate research me-
thods. Therefore, the researcher verified the theoretical assumptions using a com-
parative analysis of three case studies of bilateral relations between the Graz Trian-
gle countries and the UAE. The main categories of comparison are visits by high-
level representatives of countries, the dynamics of trade, joint projects, and the
political will to develop relations. The case studies adopted are analytical and em-
pirical. Therefore, qualitative methods have been used, aimed at causal explanation
and interpretation. The adopted method of case analysis aims to find an answer to
the research question by examining the sequence of events, starting from their cau-
ses and ending with the observed effect. Each of the three Graz Triangle countries,
Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia, has been tested in relations with the UAE. Due to the
novelty of the presented project, the collected research material is based mainly on
information from government institutions of the studied countries. The main reason
for conducting this research based on this type of information source is the lack of
research on the relationship between the Graz Triangle countries and the UAE in
the literature. Then, the collected research material became the subject of analysis,
critical evaluation, and comparison. As a result of this process, findings were de-
veloped. Moreover, the author of the presented article had the opportunity to verify
the results based on personal participation and direct observation of the pheno-
mena occurring in the area of development of UAE relations with Austria, Croatia,
Slovenia, and other countries belonging to the 3SI. Therefore, the adopted research
methods, combined with the author’s experience and direct participation in the ana-
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
lysed processes, resulted in the scientific research in question. It contributes to the
development of the science of the discussed research area.
2. Graz Triangle – 3SI – UAE
The research analyses the bilateral relations of the Graz Triangle states with the
UAE. The importance of minilateralism, such as the 3SI or Graz Triangle, should
be emphasized in contemporary international relations. They provide participating
countries additional opportunities to pursue their own interests in broader projects
that consider specificities and balance influences. Coordinated minilateralism in the
form of the Graz Triangle may bring greater possibilities of influencing other 3SI
partners. Moreover, Croatia and Slovenia are the only 3SI members located in the
Adriatic Sea region. They will be able to emphasize the role and importance of this
Adriatic dimension of the 3SI. Thus, they will become more influential players in
the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This, in turn, will be a positive value for the
effective implementation of the goals of their foreign and security policies. From
the UAE interests’ point of view, the Graz Triangle countries are a source of search-
ing for new projects to implement the UAE 2030 vision, which is based on green
economy and new technologies. From the geopolitical point of view, the develop-
ment of these relations is part of the construction of in-depth relations and alliances,
which will make it possible to effectively stop Turkey’s ambitious plans towards the
Mediterranean and the Middle East.
2.1. Graz Triangle
As a result of European integration processes, since 1 July 2013, when Croatia ac-
ceded to the European Union, all three countries are members of this organization.
Croatian foreign policy for years focused on joining the EU, and on solving bilateral
problems related to Yugoslavia’s collapse. Croatia’s accession to NATO (2009) and
the European Union (2013) is associated with the need to optimize the formula for
pursuing national interests within the new political framework. Croats emphasize
that with Euro Atlantic area integration, their country is symbolically leaving the
Western Balkans region. Due to historical ties, Central Europeanness is often con-
trasted with Balkanness in Croatian political thought (‘flight from the Balkans’).
The relation with Central Europe from the Croatian perspective also concerns ties
with Austria and Slovenia. In this process, cooperation with Central Europe gained
increasing importance (Sadecki, 2013). In August 2013, Austria, Croatia, and Slo-
venia’s heads of government met at the Grazer Burg castle. It happened soon af-
ter Croatia joined the European Union. During the meeting, the Austrian Chancel-
lor Faymann emphasized the trilateral cooperation significance for the European
integration processes. Therefore, the leaders decided to continue the ties between
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia in the Graz Triangle framework. All heads of go-
vernment agreed that the economic field would be the crucial area of their clos-
er cooperation. Moreover, all three countries share a common history and culture
( Zadnja izmjena, 2013). In order to deepen bilateral relations, especially
in the economic field, and to coordinate their joint positions in the EU, meetings
of the heads of government of the Graz Triangle began to be held twice a year. In
March 2015, Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia’s heads of government and the Europe-
an Union Commissioner for Energy met to discuss regional energy cooperation and
the European Energy Union. The tripartite meeting of Austrian Chancellor Werner
Faymann, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, and Slovenian Prime Minis-
ter Miro Cerar took place in the Austrian ski resort of Schladming. The European
Union Commissioner for Energy, Maroš Šefčovič, also participated in the meeting.
The Croatian head of government emphasized that the priority of his country’s po-
licy was the construction of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island
of Krk and the building of the European Energy Union. Moreover, the latter was
part of the joint European Union interest. This project was included in the plan of
the European Commission (Vlada, 2015).
2.2. The Three Seas Initiative
The 3SI was initiated in 2015 and formally launched in 2016, during the first sum-
mit in Dubrovnik, Croatia. On the Croatia and Poland initiative, the 3SI was estab-
lished as a forum for cooperation between 12 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia,
the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slova-
kia, and Slovenia. During the project’s inaugural summit, the leaders adopted a joint
declaration in which they agreed to deepen cooperation in the Adriatic-Baltic-Black
Sea area, both in the internal dimension of the EU and in the wider transatlantic per-
spective. The participants of this project decided to cooperate specially in the areas
of energy, transport, digitization, and economy. The 3SI has been identified as the
‘New Europe’ concept implementation, from Estonia to Croatia, and a geopolitical
alliance of the new NATO and EU member states. Except for Austria, the partici-
pating countries have a history of communism. Moreover, this concept refers to the
geopolitical idea of the Intermarium, a federation of independent states in Central
and Eastern Europe, based mainly on the principle of ethnicity. Today’s initiative
also aims to limit Russia’s influence in the region. For this purpose, 3SI member
states are an excellent strategic choice for the USA and NATO as the guarantor of
their security (Kurečić, 2018, pp. 99-100).
The European Union emphasized the development of East-West cooperation,
ignoring the North-South communication and energy corridors. The 3SI founders
intend to develop cooperation in the Central and Eastern Europe area complemen-
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
tarily (Górka, 2018). During the next Three Seas summit in Warsaw in 2017, the
President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, emphasized that the LNG terminal
on the Croatian island of Krk was a strategic project for energy independence not
only for Croatia itself but for the entire region. It would be ensured by the construc-
tion of a corridor with Poland and the reverse, and interconnectors towards Hungary
and Ukraine. Moreover, US President Donald Trump, who was present at the sum-
mit, emphasized the strategic importance of the 3SI. The meeting in June 2019 in
Ljubljana was attended by the German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as the
leader of the partner country, and the American Energy Minister Rick Perry (Pol-, 2019).
In 2019, Hungary announced readiness to import LNG from Qatar via Croatia
in 2021, when the LNG terminal on the island of Krk will start operating. During his
visit to Qatar on 22 October 2019, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szij-
jarto emphasized preparation. Purchase of LNG from Qatar reduces dependence on
Russian raw material (Jakóbik, 2019). On 15 June 2020, LNG Croatia, implement-
ing the floating terminal project on the island of Krk, announced that the facility’s
regasification capacity was almost fully booked for the years 2021-2023. It was in-
fluenced by the Qatar gas and electricity company Powerglobe Qatar LLC’s deci-
sion to reserve approx. 10.1 bcm of capacity in the period from January 2021 to the
end of September 2035. It was Croatia’s success, as well as the implementation of
3SI assumptions and employment of one of the most significant projects diversify-
ing gas supplies to South-Eastern and Central Europe. However, without the sup-
port of the US, the project probably could not be completed. From the American
interests’ point of view, the LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk also reduces
Russia’s influence. Moreover, it enables the sale of American LNG in the region
and an increase in its revenues (Seroka, 2020). On 29 January 2021, Croatian Prime
Minister Andrej Plenković officially inaugurated the new LNG terminal on the is-
land of Krk in Croatia, including a pipeline. The construction of this LNG terminal
and the connecting Omišalj-Zlobin gas pipeline received EU financial support of
EUR 124 million under the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ (CEF). Dirk Beckers, Di-
rector of the Executive Agency for Innovation and Networks (INEA), emphasized
that the Krk LNG terminal would be of strategic importance for the security and
diversification of natural gas supplies in Central and South-Eastern Europe. In addi-
tion, this project is a priority for the European Union under the Energy Connectivity
initiative (European Commission, 2021).
2.3. The United Arab Emirates
The UAE remains a strategic partner for major transatlantic actors, including the
United States. Both countries signed new agreements, in 2017, on cooperation in
the field of security, and in 2019 in defence. There are about 5,000 American sol-
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
diers located in the UAE. In the 2015-2019 period, this country bought from the US
about 70% of its weapons. Since 2014, the UAE is the first Arab country to have its
Ambassador at NATO headquarters. The UAE has been consistently and dynami-
cally developing relations with the European Union and its new member states for
over 10 years. In order to develop and deepen relations with the EU, in January
2018, the UAE signed cooperation agreements between the Ministry of Foreign Af-
fairs and International Cooperation of the UAE and the European External Action
Service. It involves cooperation in areas such as trade, innovation, research, educa-
tion, transport, environment, health, consumer protection, and multilateral coopera-
tion. In July 2019, in Brussels, the first meeting between the UAE diplomatic ser-
vice and the European Union took place, as part of the political dialogue. In addition
to economic issues and the EU presence at Expo 2020 Dubai, partners discussed
the issues of combating terrorism and cooperation for humanitarian aid. Moreover,
the meeting participants discussed the challenges related to the peace process in the
Middle East, the situation in Syria, Yemen, and Sudan, as well as in Libya, Iraq,
Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel. As a result of the dynamic develop-
ment of relations, in January 2020 in Brussels, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al
Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with
the High Representative of the European Union, EU Foreign Affairs and Security
Policy, and Vice-President of the European Union Commission, Josep Borrell. The
talks focused on the most significant strategic challenges related to the Middle East
(Krzymowski, 2020a, pp. 52-54). Relations with Central and Eastern Europe are be-
coming more dynamic. The UAE pursues strategies to diversify both alliances and
sources of income. Although the sale of crude oil remains a crucial item of the fed-
eral budget revenues, efforts are being made to become independent from this raw
material. Therefore, the UAE is investing in green economy and renewable energy
sources. Abu Dhabi is home to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
On 15 September 2020 in Washington, the UAE signed agreements to establish
diplomatic relations with Israel. Under the agreement, both countries, apart from es-
tablishing diplomatic relations, opened embassies and direct air connections. In ad-
dition, cooperation has started in several areas, including investments, trade, tour-
ism, research, education, and energy. Security cooperation is a significant element
of the new situation. A crucial part of the deal is the transfer of American and Israeli
advanced weapons to the UAE. The UAE is primarily interested in acquiring the
F-35 multi-role aircraft. Moreover, both countries started to cooperate in combat-
ing cyber threats. Additionally, the UAE has expressed interest in working closely
with Israel in the East Med Gas Forum. A week after the signing of the UAE-Israel
Agreement, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum Charter was adopted, which for-
mally confirms the founding of a new international organization based in Egypt.
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
The signatories of the agreement are Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, and
Italy. The Palestinian Authority is also a participant in the forum. France applied for
accession and was accepted. The United States, the European Union, and the UAE
have applied for the organization observer status. On 9 March 2021, the Forum
Charter entered into force. These activities cause the dynamics of new geopolitical
changes in the Middle East, including the Mediterranean area, with the participa-
tion of the UAE (Jakóbik, 2020). In 2021, the UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary.
For the UAE, an important project to develop and deepen with multiple partners in
the international arena is Expo 2020 Dubai, which will take place between October
2021 and March 2022. It is the first EXPO World Exhibition in the Middle East,
Africa, and South Asia region. The organizers adopted ‘Connecting Minds, Creat-
ing the Future’ as their slogan. The Expo in Dubai also has three main themes, i.e.
Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity. This project is a crucial element for the
UAE Soft Power Strategy implementation, adopted in 2017. Based on Expo 2020,
organizers want to create an extensive global cooperation network with both state
and non-state actors (Krzymowski, 2020b, pp. 9-10).
3. Case Studies
3.1. Austria
Austria, of all 3SI countries, has the longest diplomatic relations with the UAE, start-
ing in 1974, three years after the founding of this state. In the Gulf region, the UAE
is Austria’s largest trading partner. In addition, Vienna treats the UAE as a business
hub serving the area of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), North, and East Africa
as well as a part of the Indian subcontinent. About 330 Austrian companies are oper-
ating in this country. In the last few years, they have gained tremendous dynamics at
the highest levels (Austrian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, 2020a). In May 2017, the Chan-
cellor of Austria Christian Kern paid a visit to the UAE to further strengthen coope-
ration in the fields of economy, trade, and energy (MOFAIC, 2017b). A few months
later, in November 2017, the 9th UAE-Austria Joint Committee took place in Vien-
na. The Emirates side emphasized the strategy implementation to diversify UAE re-
venue sources and build a knowledge-based economy. In this sense, UAE represen-
tatives stressed the desire to establish strategic partnerships with innovative projects.
At the end of the committee meeting, representatives of both countries signed an
MoU on industrial cooperation in energy technologies (MOFAIC, 2017c). After less
than three months, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, paid an official visit to Austria, where
he met with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, among others. The visit’s purpose was to
strengthen relations and discuss common interests in regional and global dimensions
(MOFAIC, 2018a). A few months later, in April 2018, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
Kurz paid an official visit to the UAE. During the visit, a 40-year contract was signed
between the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and the Austrian Mineral
Oil Administration (Österreichische Mineralölverwaltung – OMV AG), an Austrian
corporation operating in the oil and gas area. Under the contract, the Austrian com-
pany for $ 1.5 billion received a 20% share in the concession for Satah Al Razboot
fields (SARB) and Umm Lulu oil fields offshore in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (MO-
FAIC, 2 018b). Mor eover, nine mont hs later, in Janua ry 2018, Austr ian Financ e Mi-
nister Hartwig Löger came again to the UAE to participate in the signing of another
contract between the same companies. The agreement concerned the acquisition by
OMV AG of a 15 percent stake in ADNOC Refining and the emerging global Trad-
ing Joint Venture (Austrian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, 2020b). After less than a year, in
March 2019, the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, paid another visit to the UAE,
during which were signed two further contracts of ADNOC and OMV AG in new
areas in the field of petrochemicals. Moreover, ADNOC and Borealis signed an
agreement regarding cooperation on global markets in the area of the integrated po-
lyolefin industry. It is worth noting that since 1998, both companies have a joint ven-
ture in the petrochemical company Borouge with headquarters in Abu Dhabi, which
is a leader in innovative plastic products for several industries (MOFAIC, 2019).
3.2. Croatia
Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Croatia and the UAE were concluded
on June 23, 1992. From then until 2017, no particular dynamics of relations be-
tween the two countries were recorded. Neither Croatia nor the UAE have diplo-
matic missions. The UAE ambassador in Germany is accredited to Croatia. The
Ambassador of Croatia in Egypt covers the UAE. However, in July 2017, there was
a breakthrough when the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Coopera-
tion, H.H. Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, arrived for the first time in Croa-
tia. During the visit, a discussion was held with the President of Croatia, Kolinda
Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić, on estab-
lishing closer economic relations. The Croatian side emphasized that the natural
gas project, which was being developed, should be an interesting area of coopera-
tion and investment for the UAE. Moreover, partners discussed global challenges,
recent international events, the situation in Libya, and the illegal immigrant crisis.
Additionally, during a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Zdravko Marić, an
agreement was signed that would help avoid double taxation (Gulfnews, 2017).
The next favourable event for the relationship between the two countries was, at
the same time, in July 2017, the inauguration of the Emirates airline connection be-
tween Dubai and Zagreb. In April 2018, a Croatia-UAE forum was held in Zagreb,
which was attended by 15 UAE companies and 70 Croatian entities representing
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
the food industry, pharmaceuticals, metal processing industry, electrical engineer-
ing, construction, and finance. During the meeting, it was decided that many Croa-
tian companies would participate in the Dubai Expo as an enormous opportunity for
their promotion (HINA, 2018). In 2019, Zagreb notified that the Croatian Embassy
in the UAE would be opened soon.
3.3. Slovenia
Slovenia and the UAE established diplomatic relations in 1992. However, until
2015 they did not have any dynamics. In September 2015, the first visit of UAE
Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri to Slovenia took place. The
Minister with his counterpart Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and
Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek signed an agreement on economic cooperation.
The talks focused primarily on developing cooperation in construction, housing
equipment, food, and tourism, in environmental protection, innovation, renewable
energy sources, and the food industry. Moreover, partners also signed an agreement
on Cooperation in Civil Aviation (The Slovenia Times, 2015). During the meet-
ing with the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, both sides expressed inte-
rest in supporting cooperation in areas such as tourism, infrastructure, investment,
IT, innovation, and industry. Besides, it was emphasized that the UAE is ready to
share its world-class experience in operating ports and free zones with Slovenia
(Gulfnews, 2015). In September 2016, the Slovenian Minister of Development and
Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, accompanied by nearly 200 business representa-
tives, visited the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of
Commerce. The UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri stressed
that his country continued to expand and deepen relations with Europe and Slovenia
which had become a significant element of the strategy. There are great coopera-
tion opportunities, especially in engineering, energy, interior design, food products
and services, ITC, tourism, and agriculture. In the context of a knowledge-based
economy, he also emphasized that small and medium-sized enterprises need sup-
port. The president and CEO of the Dubai Chamber, on the other hand, indicated
their readiness for joint investments in such areas as trade, tourism, logistics and
transport, sustainability, and renewable energy. It was Slovenia’s first trade and
investment mission to the UAE. Slovenia, bordering Austria, Italy, Hungary, and
Croatia proposed the UAE to be a gateway to the 3SI area (Dubai Chamber, 2016).
In the subsequent development of the relationship, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro
Cerar came to the UAE in February 2017 (MOFAIC, 2017a). In October 2019, the
UAE-Slovenia Joint Committee meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs as
the head of the Slovenia delegation took place in Abu Dhabi. During his visit, both
sides emphasized the need to treat one another as a pivotal point for further eco-
nomic expansion (Salman, 2019). Additionally, the talks emphasized the role and
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
importance of ITF Enhancing Human Security, an organization from Slovenia
that, among others, is involved in the Middle East in land mine clearance and post-
conflict reconstruction, as well as cooperation on projects in business, logistics,
science, and artificial intelligence (Hussein & Hatem, 2019). At the meeting with
the Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem Al Hashimy, both parties
confirmed their interest in developing cooperation for sustainable development and
environmental protection as part of the Green Group of six small countries, found-
ed in 2009 by Slovenia and of which the UAE is also a member. Moreover, the
interlocutors agreed to establish lasting cooperation between experts of both coun-
tries in the field of artificial intelligence (Embassy of Slovenia, 2019). During the
visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Miro Cerar also officially inaugurated the em-
bassy activities in Abu Dhabi. It was the first in the Gulf and it began operating in
2018 (Total Croatia News, 2019). Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, after less than two months, in January 2020, once
again came to the UAE. During a conversation with the Minister of Foreign Af-
fairs and International Cooperation, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
readiness to cooperate in the field of renewable energy was emphasized (Hassan,
4. Findings
The results of the empirical part of this research show the dynamics of bilateral re-
lations between 3SI countries, including the Graz Triangle, and the UAE. The find-
ings focus on the implementation of visits between states and the development of
trade exchange, showcasing the exports of 3SI countries to the UAE. It should be
noted that when analysing the balance of trade for the Graz Triangle countries and
the UAE, import from these countries is very low. The UAE in trade with Austria
recorded a negative level of non-oil trade balance every year in the 2011-2019 peri-
od, between nearly -600 to over -1,100 (in USD Millions). In Croatia’s case, import
from the UAE is noticeable due to the purchase of unwrought aluminium. How-
ever, throughout the analysed period, the UAE also recorded a negative non-oil
trade balance, between over -10 and nearly -60. In the case of Slovenia, the differ-
ence is even higher, from over -60 to over -80 (Ministry of Economy, 2021). At the
same time, the acceleration of the state visits of the Graz Triangle states with the
UAE goes hand in hand with the development of the trade dynamics.
4.1. Relations with the UAE: Comparison
The analysis of bilateral relations between the Graz Triangle states shows that Aus-
tria has the longest and richest history of ties with the UAE. Vienna established
diplomatic relations with the UAE 18 years earlier than Croatia and Slovenia. At
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
that time, these states did not exist as separate entities. Therefore, Austria shows a
higher dynamic of relations with the UAE than Zagreb or Ljubljana, visible mainly
in trade in the period between 2011 and 2019. The nature of economic relations
also reflects their deep dimension. One example is the Austrian oil and gas corpora-
tion Österreichische Mineralölverwaltung (OMV AG) contract with the Abu Dhabi
National Oil Company (ADNOC) for a 20% share in the offshore oil concession
in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, for a 40-year period. Moreover, both countries are
developing cooperation in the energy sector, specifically in the field of renewable
Analysing the most significant bilateral visits in the 2016-2020 period, con-
sidering heads of state and government, ministers of foreign and economic affairs,
after the start of the 3SI, the situation of Croatia and Slovenia looks much better.
Zagreb and Ljubljana began developing their relationship with Abu Dhabi. A break-
through event in Croatia’s relations with the UAE was in July 2017 in Zagreb, the
first visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of that
country, H.H. Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During the meetings at the
highest levels, the UAE’s chief of diplomacy, among other things, expressed his
country’s interest and readiness to invest in the gas project. On the other hand,
after the announcement of the 3SI inauguration, in September 2015, the ground-
breaking visit of the UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri,
took place in Slovenia. This visit initiated the higher dynamics of ties between both
countries. The dominant topic has been the economy with a focus on renewable
energy resources, artificial intelligence, and the IT sector. The UAE offered support
in Slovenia’s seaport development. Ljubljana, on the other hand, offered itself as a
gateway to the 3SI area. This study shows that Croatia and Slovenia, taken together
Figure 1. The Most Important Official Bilateral Visits of Graz Triangle Countries
with the UAE in the 2016-2020 Period
Source: elaboration of the author – based on data from government institutions
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
in the 2016-2020 period, have significantly increased their high-level visits when
compared to Austria. While there is also a gradual change in the level of exports for
these two countries, they are relatively low when compared to those of Austria, as
presented in Figure 2.
The research results indicate that all the Graz Triangle countries can develop
economic relations with the UAE, including in the field of energy. The UAE is im-
plementing Vision 2021, supporting a green economy program under the slogan:
Green economy for sustainable development, which was adopted in January 2012.
Thanks to it, the UAE is building a new global model of green economy. Thus, the
UAE aims to be a world leader in new green technologies. To this end, it consist-
ently adopts new strategies and programs, and is active in the international arena.
The UAE, when investing in green economy, primarily focuses on the development
of renewable energy and wants to become an international hub in this field (Krzy-
mowski, 2020c, p. 213).
An analysis of the last ten years of the twelve 3SI countries shows that all
countries, except Poland, demonstrate dynamic relations with the UAE. Although
the Czech Republic has not had any official, high-level bilateral visit since 2016,
the country maintains high export dynamics, unlike Poland. Figure 3 presents the
dynamics of the most significant official bilateral meetings. It includes visits at the
heads of state and government level, as well as ministers of foreign affairs, econo-
my, and royal family members in high state positions.
Concerning exports to the UAE, the only significant decrease was recorded in
the case of Poland and Hungary. However, in Hungary, since 2015, there have been
Figure 2. Export of Graz Triangle Countries to the UAE in US $ (in thousand)
1.313,30 1.209 1.163,40 1.270 1.293,80
50,7 38 33,5 39,9 61,4 60,4 45 42,9 79,4
89,7 97,5 83,3 94,20 97,9 114,70 128,20 141,30 140,00
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Austria Croatia Slovenia
Source: elaboration of the author – based on data from government institutions
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
high dynamics of economic visits at the ministerial level and Joint Economic Com-
mission meetings, which should soon bring positive results.
In the years 2011-2015, Poland initiated closer cooperation with a new dy-
namic of visits and relations between the UAE and Central and Eastern European
countries. After the 3SI adoption in 2015, there was an unprecedented revival of po-
litical, diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations with the UAE. However, only
Poland, the 3SI initiator, significantly weakened its ties. There was a lack in conti-
nuity of organizing the Joint Economic Commission meetings that resulted from the
economic agreement signed in 2012. In the years 2011-2015, Poland was the clear
leader in the dynamics of relations with the UAE, not only concerning the countries
being part of the 3SI. After 2015 and the implementation of the 3SI, the situation
changed drastically in favour of other countries. However, due to its geopolitical,
population, and economic potential, Poland still has the chance to regain its leader-
ship position. All other 3SI countries have, since the beginning of this initiative, de-
veloped dynamic relations with the UAE, which is a logistics and business hub for
Asia and Africa, and a potential investor in the countries of the 3SI.
It should be noted that there is an enormous potential for further development
of political and economic relations between 3SI countries and the UAE, which ex-
press great interest in strategic cooperation in this area of Europe. This comes in the
context where the UAE is a country anchored in close relations with the transatlan-
tic field, as it is a member of the NATO Istanbul Initiative Cooperation program.
Figure 3. The Most Significant Official Bilateral Visits of 3SI Countries with
the UAE in the 2011-2020 Period
Austria Bulgaria Croatia Czech Estonia Hungary Latvia Lithuania Poland Romania Slovakia Slovenia
2011-15 2016-20
Source: elaboration of the author – based on data from government institutions
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
Besides, it is the first Arab country to have its NATO-accredited ambassador and
has deeper relations with the European Union. Therefore, one should consider that
the UAE, which has investment funds, is likely to implement joint 3SI projects
which could certainly contribute to the economic dynamism of all parties.
4.2. The Wider Significance of the Graz Triangle – UAE Relations
There are dynamic changes in the international environment that determine the con-
ditions for political adaptation. In such circumstances, the state with its own poten-
tial will shape its role in the international system. To make it a reality, it implements
foreign and security policy strategies. Therefore, the position of the state in interna-
tional relations is changing. New geopolitical conditions initiated by the collapse of
the Eastern bloc and the emergence of Croatia and Slovenia gave a new impulse to
research the role of states and other entities in shaping the global order.
Strategic Background
In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the American military opera-
tion in the Middle East in Iraq, the implementation of the American vision of a
‘New Europe’ and a new world order began to be implemented by NATO with a
new, global vision. In the entire area of interest of the North Atlantic Alliance, the
main strategic direction was the southern flank of the Alliance and, as indicated by
Volker Rühe (1998), the strategic triangle: the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Mid-
Figure 4. Export of 3SI Countries to the UAE in the 2011-2019 Period in US $
(in thousand)
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Austria Bulgaria Croatia Czech Estonia Hungary
Latvia Lithuania Poland Romania Slovakia Slovenia
Source: elaboration of the author – based on data from government institutions
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
dle East / North Africa. When Americans refer to the southern flank of the Alliance,
they mean the area that covers everything south of Gibraltar to Iran and what lies
between them, namely the Middle East and the Persian (Arab) Gulf. This was where
American strategic interests emerged on the southern flank (Asmus, 1997: 51). For
the United States, the Persian (Arab) Gulf was the key theatre of operations. First, it
was about oil. As a result of such actions, Iraq was excluded from the international
oil market for a long time. Second, after the USSR’s collapse, the United States
sought to reaffirm its role as the sole superpower. The intervention in Iraq was a
convenient opportunity to strengthen this role and confirm US hegemony. Third,
the United States sought to eliminate Russian and Chinese influence in the Middle
East region. Fourth, Washington wanted to end instability in the Middle East region.
The territorial disintegration of Iraq and the new political division of the borders
in Mesopotamia would be a prelude to this goal. In turn, the inclusion of the North
Atlantic Alliance in this game was to be a convenient tool for pursuing US interests.
In 1999, shortly after the Washington Summit and the development of a new Strate-
gic Concept, the concept of Europe’s southern periphery appeared as NATO’s ‘near
abroad’. The political and economic changes that took place on the world political
scene after the collapse of the block system made the countries of NATO’s ‘region’
key actors for the United States in securing its interests on the southern flank of the
Alliance. Although Austria is a neutral country, its security strategy emphasizes the
demand for active cooperation within the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Po-
licy and the European External Action Service (Austrian Security Strategy, 2013).
In addition, Austria supported NATO missions, including in Afghanistan and the
Western Balkans.
NATO’s southern region traditionally includes Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece,
and Turkey. The Croatia and Slovenia accession formally added another member
of the southern region to Southern Europe’s Joint Armed Forces (AFSOUTH). The
focus on NATO’s southern flank was a step towards a global Alliance, with a firm
emphasis on the interests of collective defence without citing geographical bounda-
ries. This could be a force in both a political and an operational sense. In the light
of changes in the NATO and the United States’ strategy, the Mediterranean region
played a crucial role in terms of deploying allied forces in the Middle East, the pe-
riphery of Europe (e.g., in the Balkans), as well as in the countries of the Maghreb
and Africa south of the Sahara. This enormous area also offered many opportunities
for foreign and security policy in terms of solving the Cyprus problem (Pickering,
2000), more effectively influencing the Middle East process. All this, in turn, had
an impact on European security and the role of the US as a global power. The Medi-
terranean region is a natural ‘foyer for deploying forces in the Persian (Arab) and
Caspian Gulf regions. During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, approxi-
mately 90% of the forces and materials necessary for the operation were transported
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
through the region. For this reason, in Athens in June 1993, during the meeting of
NATO foreign ministers, it was emphasized that Europe’s security is closely related
to the Mediterranean countries (North Atlantic Council, 1993).
Graz Triangle
The process of shaping the specific position of the Graz Triangle countries is the
result of adaptation to these changes. It was initiated by the Croatian and Slove-
nian states creation and the European integration process. The accession of Croatia
to the EU in 2013 strengthened the need to develop new cooperation mechanisms.
Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia cooperate very closely on foreign policy issues. The
European Union’s enlargement towards South-Eastern European countries is espe-
cially strongly supported by both countries. Austria and Slovenia have taken seve-
ral joint initiatives (Foreign and European Policy Report 2019, 2020). However, in
March 2015, during the meeting of Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia’s heads of go-
vernment and the European Union Commissioner of Energy, the Austrian chancel-
lor firmly opposed the joint Croatian-Slovenian nuclear power plant Krško. On the
other hand, the heads of government agreed on the development of renewable ener-
gy sources. In addition, all the meeting participants emphasized the energy integra-
tion significance at the EU level aiming at the Energy Union implementation (Vla-
da, 2015). Therefore, except Austria, the rest of the Graz Triangle countries adopted
the 3SI, announced the same year, and officially adopted it in 2016 in the Croatian
capital as a project that will reduce energy dependence on oil and gas imports from
Russia. Moreover, an initiative that will develop transport and digital infrastructure
from North to South. In addition, these countries interpreted the 3SI as the imple-
mentation of a ‘vision of a whole, free and peaceful Europe’ (Zbińkowski, 2019).
On the other hand, in terms of cooperation with the Central and Eastern European
countries, Austria wants to be a bridge between this region and the West. Moreover,
in the context of MENA, Vienna, due to its experience and commitment to the re-
gion, can also play an important role both for the other Graz Triangle countries and
for the entire 3SI area. A significant reason for closer cooperation between the Cen-
tral and South-Eastern European countries in the energy area was the experience of
interruptions in gas supplies in 2009. This was due to the Russian-Ukrainian con-
flict. It was then that the concept of building a North-South gas corridor was born,
which is currently being implemented under the 3SI. Moreover, in today’s condi-
tions, both in the energy and geopolitical areas, Croatia and Slovenia, as Mediter-
ranean countries, will be increasingly interested in developing relations with the
MENA, including the UAE (Sadecki, 2013).
Analysing the research subject and the position of Central and Eastern Europe
in the EU in the context of the 3SI, Grgić emphasizes that both the rationalist and
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
normative foundations of the latest wave of sub-regionalism have changed signifi-
cantly compared to previous cases of cooperation (Grgić, 2021). The Graz Triangle
should be seen in a broader perspective as a significant element of the 3SI. There-
fore, cooperation with partners in the Middle East should take place within the
framework of the 3SI, thus including the countries of the Graz Triangle. It should
be noted that the countries of the 3SI have enormous potential to shape the Com-
mon Foreign and Security Policy of the EU. Moreover, the Visegrad Group activi-
ties in the Middle East, which in 2010 started cooperation with Egypt, Israel, and
Lebanon, should become a part of 3SI actions. In 2011, the V4 group recognized the
Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, including the UAE, as a strategic partner. In July
2017, the first V4 and Israel summit at the heads of government level was held in
Budapest. Moreover, in July of the same year, the Visegrad Group met with Egyp-
tian President Abdel Fattah Sisi. Therefore, the experience of the V4 countries with
the MENA region should be used and extended to a broader form of cooperation
within the 3SI (Krzymowski, 2021, pp. 110-111). The United States sees the eastern
Mediterranean region as an area of global rivalry with Russia and China. Washing-
ton is striving to create a regional zone of energy and military security. Within this
zone, the South-Eastern European countries will have protection against Russia and
China, and in practice – given the situation in the region – most likely also against
Turkey. Russia is counting more and more on Turkey leading to a NATO crisis and
a collapse of the Alliance’s political unity (Wójcik, 2020).
Geopolitical changes require both the Graz Triangle countries and the UAE to
define priorities in foreign policy strategies that are determined by national inter-
ests. What identifies their roles is their political and economic potential and strate-
gic location. However, political will is also a significant factor. Moreover, taking
over a specific role is also a response to the external activity of other states, espe-
cially in bilateral relations.
4.3. The Discussion of Research Results
When discussing this topic in the context of the research results obtained, it must
be admitted that after the collapse of Yugoslavia, Austria assumed responsibility
for the Balkans. Its role grew along with the deepening of the European integration
process in this region. Moreover, as Emil Brix (2016, pp. 243-244) points out, Aus-
tria in the broader geopolitical and international dialogue dimension has chosen the
position of a bridge between different cultures and religions. Zgurić, Kos-Stanišić,
and Domjančić (2015, p. 14) rightly note that the Middle East has a significant im-
pact on the global architecture of international security and international relations.
And the EU is taking steps to become a crucial player there. Therefore, Croatia as
a member of the European Union should be active in the Middle East. On the other
Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2021, pp. 77-101
hand, Bojinović Fenko and Šabič (2017, p. 57) emphasize that in 2004, following
Slovenia’s NATO and EU accession, the country lost its clear strategic goals of for-
eign and security policy. Moreover, because of the high dynamics of changes in in-
ternational relations and new challenges, Slovenia faced new foreign policy priori-
ties. Finally, Mandaci and Rusi Karacalarli (2017, p. 495) emphasize that the Gulf
states are increasingly interested in the Western Balkans and Central and Eastern
Europe not only due to new areas of economic cooperation, including investment,
but because of deepening political relations in broader geopolitics.
Due to the absence of scientific analysis in the literature, there is a lack of op-
portunity to conduct discussion and polemics. At the same time, it makes the pre-
sented research results unique and meaningful. Thus, they constitute both a crucial
contribution to science and valuable material for practitioners of international rela-
tions. The results of the research show that the 3SI is not a prerequisite for better
and deeper cooperation between the UAE and Austria, Croatia, Slovenia. However,
it enables a wider range of possible projects to be implemented jointly. Moreover,
in this context, it gives this part of the 3SI a strategic dimension for the UAE. It
should also be noted that, especially during the presidency of Donald Trump, the
3SI and relations with the UAE were of major importance for US foreign and secu-
rity policy. Therefore, President D. Trump personally became involved in the Three
Seas project and the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel. It as-
sumed geopolitical and geo-economic implications. It was to become one of the ele-
ments of maintaining American influence in the Euro-Asian area. From the UAE’s
point of view, the country is diversifying its alliances. Therefore, the UAE is not
limited to concluding partnerships in Central and Eastern Europe only with states
allied with the US. Also, when selecting projects for collaboration, it is not solely
guided by the Washington endorsement condition. The UAE’s strategy is based on
its own geopolitical and economic calculations. On the other hand, from the point
of view of 3SI countries, it is important that the UAE is an ally for partners in the
Euro-Atlantic area.
This study attempted to provide a new perspective on the relations between Aus-
tria, Slovenia, and Croatia (Graz Triangle) and the UAE. Both Central and East-
ern Europe and the Middle East, including the Persian (Arab) Gulf region, were
directly experiencing the end of the bipolar world order. In both geographic areas,
a game started for the new world order. After 25 years, on the Croatia and Poland
initiative, the Central and Eastern European countries started a new cooperation
formula called the Three Seas Initiative, which is part of the ‘New Europe’ concept
implementation. At that time, the UAE, recognizing the new project as attractive,
Krzymowski, A., The Three Seas Initiative and the Graz Triangle Relations...
began to dynamize relations with 3SI countries. Five years later, in September
2020, the geopolitical landscape of Central Eastern Europe, the Middle East and
North Africa is rapidly changing. The agreement between the UAE and Israel im-
pacts the emerging new regional architecture of international relations. Both pro-
cesses influence the new global balance of power and competitions between global
great powers. The Graz Triangle, due to its location and relations development with
the MENA area, should be a significant element of the 3SI’s Mediterranean dimen-
sion. Moreover, it adds the possibility of a complementary approach to the Euro-
pean Neighbourhood Policy, considering both its eastern and southern dimensions.
In addition, the Graz Triangle states are in the middle of a new strategic game in
which the UAE also takes part, influencing the current geopolitical situation, both
in the Mediterranean region and in transatlantic relations. Therefore, the deepened
cooperation between the Graz Triangle states and the UAE may bring positive value
to all parts, in the form of broader influence in international relations. The results
presented in this paper should inspire other researchers to continue in-depth analy-
ses of the 3SI in the context of its role and importance in relations with Middle East
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