Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) reiterated that Estonia prefers to deal with China outside of the 17+1 format, either bilaterally or alongside the European Union.
"Estonia prefers to have cooperation with China also in the format of 27+1, meaning together with all EU member states," she said at a press conference on Thursday in response to a question about Lithuania's desire to move away from the format.
Liimets said Estonia created its principles of international relations 30 years ago and has since continued to keep these in mind when acting on the international stage.
"For Estonia, we have made our decisions 30 years back when it was possible after our re-independence, that our cooperation and aim in the international arena is to protect our values, we prefer values-based cooperation," she said.
But sometimes, these can put the two countries at odds.
"For us it is important to protect human rights, fundamental freedoms. These are the values we have based our cooperation on, within the EU also, within NATO and because of that we see some challenges in cooperation, also with China. Though we continue, of course, with bilateral cooperation with China which is also important and we discuss with them all different issues, either of good cooperation or concern," the minister said.
Liimets also said it is important that China and Estonia continue to have bilateral cooperations.
The 17+1 format involves 17 Eastern, central and southern European countries and China and is seen by the EU as an attempt to divide the 27 European Union member states.
Both Lithuania and Estonia have been wary of the format and sent lower ranking ministers to the most recent summit in February, while many other countries sent prime ministers or presidents.
Editor: Helen Wright