Estonia has stopped cooperation with China in the 16 plus 1 format due to the refusal of the Chinese side to condemn Russia’s special operation in Ukraine and Donbass. This was announced by Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu in an interview with Bloomberg on August 13.
“That was definitely a factor we took into account when making the decision. Before that, we consulted with a number of allies,” he said.
He added that Estonia will not lose anything from this, and the country will cooperate with China through the European Union.
On August 11, Latvia and Estonia withdrew from the 16 plus 1 format of cooperation with China. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis wrote on his Twitter that this format of cooperation with China “caused controversy” even before the country withdrew from it in 2021. He expressed the opinion that this platform should be replaced by the format of pan-European cooperation with China – “EU27 + 1”.
According to a source close to the negotiations on the composition of the cooperation format, Estonia and Latvia also insisted on the withdrawal of other members from the alliance. Moreover, three or four States are considering such a proposal.
The emphasis of cooperation in this format is on trade, economic and investment areas between its member countries. The alliance was established in 2012.
On the same day, the United States supported the countries’ decision to end cooperation with China in this format. U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said they will continue to support the countries “to make the Baltics a more resilient and prosperous region.”