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2019.12.13 17:15

Lithuanian president hopes for UK support on Russia after Brexit

Saulius Jakučionis, BNS2019.12.13 17:15

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, currently in Brussels, hopes for close foreign and security policy ties with Britain after it leaves the European Union.

Nausėda told journalists on Friday that keeping close ties was important for Lithuania "which is especially interested in Eastern Partnership issues and matters related [to] Russia".

"We now also have China, and Turkey, and the regional situation [...] the EU is dealing with quite a number of challenges and hopes that even after its withdrawal from the EU, the United Kingdom will definitely remain a close and like-minded partner," the Lithuanian president said.

The European Council agreed on key guidelines for future EU talks with Britain on post-Brexit relations, with the negotiations expected to start once the UK leaves in late January.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's convincing parliament election victory on Thursday raises hopes that the country will leave the EU after the Withdrawal Agreement is endorsed.

A new agreement on future relations will have to be agreed by the end of 2020 with trade being a key focus.

Lithuanian Ambassador to the EU Jovita Neliupšienė warned, however, that trade talks usually take longer than 11 months.

"Trade agreements usually take several years to agree, if not more than a dozen, but Britain is a close partner, so the trade agreement might as well be possible," the diplomat said.

"The problem is that we want close relations, we want Brits to cooperate and trade on equal terms," she said. "We hope they will open up their market and we could also open our market on the same terms."

According to the ambassador, it will not be easy to do so as the British prime minister said before the election the UK would be satisfied with a simple trade agreement.