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Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson and Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Hannes Hanso are in London with their colleagues from Latvia and Lithuania to discuss the security situation in Europe, and foreign policy and defence cooperation after the United Kingdom has left the European Union.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson said that during their visit, on Wednesday, the government of the United Kingdom would officially notify the EU of Britain’s intention to withdraw, triggering Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

“The exit negotiations will start during Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of European Union,” Mihkelson said. “We will be impartial as the presiding country and try to keep the interests of all 27 Member States in mind in the negotiations.” According to him, Estonia’s first interest is to preserve the current rights of the Estonian citizens living and working in the UK and the Estonian companies operating there.  

He expressed hope that the exit negotiations would result in an agreement that suited Europe and the UK, and also the NATO allies.

Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso said that the United Kingdom was a strong pillar of the security of Europe, and it was in everybody’s interests that the defence and security cooperation continued also after Brexit.

“The UK is one of our most important partners, with whom we have a long-time allied relationship,” Hanso assured. “The Brits will be our good and firm cooperation partners and allies also in the future.” Hanso recalled that both the UK and Estonia are among the five NATO member states that contribute more than two per cent to defence.

The chairs of the foreign affairs committees and national defence committees of the parliaments of the three Baltic States will meet with Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Crispin Blunt and Chair of the Defence Select Committee Julian Lewis. They will also have meetings with Minister of State for Exiting the European Union David Jones, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan, and members of the British parliamentary friendship groups with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

On Wednesday, Mihkelson and Hanso will also participate in the round table at the think tank Chatham House and meet with the representatives of British media.

Yesterday they visited 5th Battalion The Rifles; troops and defensive equipment of 5th Battalion have been deployed to Estonia as a part of NATO battle group. Mihkelson and Hanso were given an overview of the mission of a framework country and the armoured capabilities of the battalion, and they thanked the Brits for their contribution to ensuring the security of the Baltic region.


Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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