Urmas Part (Reform/ALDE), a former minister of foreign affairs and one of Estonia's MEPs in Brussels, said on Saturday that the format of the summit between China and countries of Central and Eastern Europe that took place in Dubrovnik on Friday is splitting the European Union.
"This summit between 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China, or the so-called 16+1, is a very weird composition that weakens the joint foreign and security policy of the European Union," Paet wrote on social media.
"Out of 28 EU countries, it includes 11 Central and Eastern European countries, among them Estonia. The rest are non-EU countries from the Balkans. Therefore, placing the 16 under a common denominator is already strange, but China of course is interested in undermining the European Union," he added.
"The EU has to do business with China as a whole, considering China's fast-increasing influence and ambition, which isn't limited to the economy alone. China is also increasingly active in the direction of Europe in the political and security spheres," Paet said.
"These 11 EU countries and Estonia among them should give up this format, which was drawn up and dictated by China, and do business based on the EU as a whole as well as on the joint foreign and security policy of the European Union," he added.
"Obviously Estonia, for example, would not like it if some other composition of EU countries that excluded it met with China," Paet said. "This activity by China is geared towards the internal division of the European Union, and should not be allowed to develop further."
The 16+1 meeting in Dubrovnik was also attended by Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), who stressed that it is important for the state of economic relationships between Europe and China to guarantee equal opportunities to entrepreneurs of both regions, respect intellectual property and monitor cybersecurity in the fast-developing world of digital connections and e-commerce.
Editor: Dario Cavegn