Jarosław Gowin at the 7th summit of the Heads of State and Governments of the Central and Eastern European countries and China

This year’s largest political event within the framework of the cooperation platform of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and China, the so-called 16+1, was held on 6-7 July 2017 in Sofia. Poland was represented at the meeting by Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin, Minister of Science and Higher Education.

The first meeting of the CEE-PRC Prime Ministers was held in Warsaw in 2012, on the occasion of a visit paid by the then Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao to Poland. Back then, China announced a plan of 12 steps for friendly cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe, which became a basis for developing the 16+1 format. The following summits of the Prime Ministers were held in Bucharest (2013), Belgrade (2014), Suzhou (2015), Riga (2016) and Budapest (2017). The 16+1 platform covers 11 European Union Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary), 5 non-EU European countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia) and China.

The leading theme of this year’s 7th 16+1 summit in Sofia was deep, open cooperation for inclusive prosperity.

In his address during the plenary session, Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin stressed that Poland appreciated the multifacetedness of the initiative which the 16+1 summit was. In fact, it allows to strengthen contacts with China not only at the level of administration, but also of business, science or culture. We are aware that for some European countries of the format, the summit is a unique opportunity for a conducting high-level political dialogue with China – said Deputy Prime Minister Gowin.

Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin expressed his recognition as regards the existing achievements of the 16+1 platform, but also pointed out that he would see a potential for closer cooperation. He also confirmed his willingness to further engage Poland under the 16+1 format.

Some areas probably require adjustments, therefore, it is worth working on improving and enhancing the effectiveness of this cooperation platform, with tangible benefits for all members – stressed Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin. The Prime Minister also emphasised that the 16+1 initiative could be one of the instruments for building the greater cohesion of the region, in addition to the Visegrad Group or the Three Seas Initiative, which Poland actively promoted. It could also play a constructive role in the context of developing geographically sustainable transport routes and logistic links between the European Union and China.

During the summit, Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin met with Prime Minister Chuin Li Keqiang. Prime Minister Gowin stressed that Poland was still interested in cooperation in the 16+1 format, while awaiting the intensification of contacts and the development of trade as part of a comprehensive strategic partnership between Poland and China.

Prime Minister Gowin also participated in the opening of an exhibition presenting the achievements within the framework of local cooperation between the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and the PRC, and spoke with the heads of delegation at the working breakfast hosted by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov.

The next 16+1 summit will be held in 2019 in Croatia.

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