søndag 23. mai 2021

Lithuania pulls out of China’s ’17+1′ bloc in Eastern Europe

Lithuania has dropped out of China's "17+1" group and urged other EU countries to follow suit, the Baltic state's foreign minister told POLITICO. "There is no such thing as 17+1 anymore, as for practical purposes Lithuania is out," Gabrielius Landsbergis said in an email, referring to Beijing's decade-old initiative to engage Central and Eastern European countries, most of which are from the ex-Soviet bloc.

The Lithuanian foreign minister called on other EU countries to also abandon the initiative. “From our perspective, it is high time for the EU to move from a dividing 16+1 format to a more uniting and therefore much more efficient 27+1," Landsbergis said. "The EU is strongest when all 27 member states act together along with EU institutions."

"Vaccination rollout, tackling pandemics are just [a] few recent examples of the EU27 united in solidarity and purpose. Unity of [the] 27 is key to success in EU's relations with external partners. Relations with China should be no exception," he added.

A spokesman for the Chinese Mission to the EU said China was “not aware” of Lithuania’s move, adding: “China-CEEC [Central and Eastern European countries] cooperation mechanism is a cross-regional cooperation mechanism jointly initiated by China and Central and Eastern European countries. It meets the desire of all parties to seek development together.