MPS LEAD CALLS FOR UK TO BACK BALTIC UNITED FRONT ON RUSSIA AND CHINA
A cross-party delegation of British parliamentarians belonging to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) have called on the UK to redouble its defence commitment to the Baltic states and reduce economic dependence on autocracies including Russia and China, in a statement made amidst a two day visit to Vilnius, Lithuania.
The delegation, including former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Labour MP Geraint Davies and crossbench peer Lord Alton, has met with the Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, parliamentarians and senior military figures over the course of a two day visit.
The MPs also met with Representative Eric Huang, chief of mission at the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius, whose opening sparked a raft of punitive trade sanctions from Beijing against Lithuania.
A statement signed by the three UK parliamentarians said:
We, members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (UK), have had the privilege of meeting with Lithuanian parliamentarians, government officials and military leaders over our visit to Vilnius.
We are deeply grateful for the warm welcome that we have received from our Lithuanian colleagues, that exemplifies the strength and longevity of the growing bond of friendship between the peoples of the United Kingdom and the Baltic states.
Today, Lithuania, a country that knows only too well what living under the oppressive rule of the Soviet Union was like, has held firm in the face of increasing pressure from authoritarian regimes in both Moscow and Beijing.
As Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine continues, Lithuania, a country of just 2.4 million, has taken in over 30,000 refugees – at least 1,000 a day since the beginning of the invasion.
Lithuania has been at the frontline of the Moscow backed Belarussian dictatorship’s efforts to destabilise Europe by deceiving and coercing thousands of unregistered individuals into entering Lithuania in an act of heinous state sponsored human trafficking.
Lithuania has also been uncowed by vindictive trade sanctions from Beijing and has dared to call the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius for what it is – an office not just for the city of Taipei but for all Taiwanese people.
As we return to the United Kingdom, we call on our government to take action to support Lithuania by:
- Redoubling the UK’s defence commitment to the Baltic states, providing an unambiguous deterrent against Russian aggression in the region; including supplying the Baltic states with the necessary air defence capabilities to establish a defensive dome protecting the region;
- Maximising military support for Ukraine’s self defence in the recognition that of Ukraine falls this could spark a domino effect through Europe, including Lithuania;
- Providing Lithuania and other states with the economic assistance needed to house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine;
- Committing to reducing strategic dependency on authoritarian regimes, including Russia and China, on critical supply chains including in energy and rare earth materials;
- Affirming the sovereign right of Lithuania to develop relations with Taiwan as it sees fit, and work to foster greater engagement with Taiwan in diplomatic exchange, trade and defence;
- Calling out the Chinese government’s refusal to condemn Putin’s war in Ukraine, and ask it to commit to sanctioning the Russian regime should it continue to escalate the war, war crimes and humanitarian crisis; and
- Commending Lithuania for its role in supporting Belarussian opposition figures fleeing the Lukashenko dictatorship and raise the Belarussian regime’s state sponsored human trafficking at the UN Human Rights Council.
- Gathering evidence of Putin’s war crimes from survivors, witnesses and experts, to be brought to the International Criminal Court.
Lithuanian MP and IPAC member Žygimantas Pavilionis MP said:
“Our party differences don’t matter any more, there are simply those who are for freedoms and those who are against freedom. There is no more important European power in the Baltic than the UK. Brexit has not changed our longstanding relationship. We welcome the return of the UK to our region.”
“After the Ukraine invasion, we have to review our economic relationships with autocracies, including in the Indo-Pacific. Deepening relations with Taiwan is crucial to supporting these efforts and consolidating democracy in the Indo-Pacific region.”