UK 'more nimble' as independent trading nation says Truss
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And Leigh Evans, chairman of Facts4EU, has said the visit also represented a significant snub to the EU, given all three opted to “bypass” Brussels in favour of London. Eva-Maria Liimets (Estonia), Edgars Rinkevics (Latvia) and Gabrielius Landsbergis (Lithuania) all met with Ms Truss at Chevening House in Kent yesterday, afterwards releasing a joint communiqué covering closer economic ties, defence, democracy, human rights, and the “malign actors” of Russia and China.
Facts4EU assessed the significance in a report published on its website in which it suggested the three nations – all of which are members of NATO – all have more in common with the UK than they do with the bloc in general, and with many members of EU27 individually.
The report suggests the Baltic states’ position on the edge of Europe, with all three bordering Russia, not least Lithuania, which has the anomalous Kaliningrad oblast to its west left them particularly exposed to Vladimir Putin.
Conversely, Facts4EU suggested the EU “has a problem with being too firm on Russia”, citing Germany’s need to get approval for the Nordstream II pipeline running from Russia, the prioritisation of which the report suggested runs counter to “the threats which the Baltic states are facing on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, when it came to China, the Baltic states are united in condemnation of the superpower’s human rights abuses taking place there, the report pointed out.
By contrast, the European Commission had just agreed a major deal with the Chinese government, although it was yet to be ratified by the European Parliament.
Mr Evans said: “It is a sad fact that a defeatist, ‘Little Britain’ mentality still pervades the Establishment in the United Kingdom.
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“It doesn’t seem to matter how many global trade deals were signed by Liz Truss when she was International Trade Secretary, nor how many global alliances are being forged, such as the new AUKUS alliance between the UK, Australia and the United States, the Establishment narrative seems to be unwavering.”
Mr Evans said the “constant refrain” from Remainers prior to and after the 2016 referendum was that the UK was “too small and unimportant” to survive on its own.
He added: “So invested are the UK Establishment in this thinking that they seem to find it impossible to celebrate the fact that they were wrong.
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“Yesterday’s event at the Foreign Secretary’s country residence demonstrates yet again that the United Kingdom is an important player on the world stage.”
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia might be small economically, but strategically they were “very significant indeed”, he stressed.
Mr Evans added: “For their three foreign ministers to bypass Brussels, come straight to the UK, and then deliver a joint communiqué that could hardly be more positive across a very wide range of subjects – this is another big ‘tick in the box’ for the newly independent Global Britain.
“No matter how many issues are being faced at home (most of these in common with EU countries and others around the world), the reputation of Global Britain is being enhanced on a regular basis. And that’s something to cheer us all up.
Speaking after their meeting, Ms Truss said: “The UK’s partnership with our Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian allies is based on shared goals on security, economic prosperity and protecting democratic values and freedoms.
“The UK and our Baltic partners are champions of democracy and its associated freedoms.
“Today, Foreign Ministers Eva-Maria Liimets, Edgars Rinkevics, Gabrielius Landsbergis and I committed to advancing those freedoms and to work together to protect the basic human rights and values that underpin the democratic world that we want to live in.”
Speaking today in Lisbon, Lord David Frost also highlighted the importance of the Baltic states to the UK, suggesting that “relationships with countries with which we trade directly – countries with maritime connections, customs practicalities, energy connections to us- are going to be particularly important in future”.
He explained: “That is because – despite the Indo-Pacific tilt and the broader perspective that Global Britain must and will have – the hard business of European defence, backed by resource, deterrence, by sharing of risks remains vital to us.
“Indeed that is why we are putting more money into defence, exceeding the baseline NATO target and reaching 2.3 percent of GDP this year.
“So Brexit will likely strengthen our interest in deep engagement with the traditionally more transatlanticist countries like Portugal, but also the countries in central and Eastern Europe that bear the direct burden of the pressure from Russia – which is why we take a particular interest in working with the Baltics, with Poland, and in new concepts like the Three Seas initiative.”
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