The UK should forge closer ties to the Baltic States

by Chief Editor, Richard Rimkus
CFBS Launch

In the early 1990s, Soviet troops marched through the streets of what are now European Union countries, commanding political power and social influence in their capital cities.

Less than thirty years later, the story looks very different for the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They have joined the European Union and seek closer trading links with the Western world. Lithuania now has the fastest public Wi-Fi in the world, Estonia has a thriving tech sector and Latvia is renowned for the ease of which to do business. 

According to recent IMF statistics, general government gross debt in relation to GDP in the Baltic States is very low, hinting at strong investment potential. Latvia’s was 34.9 per cent, Lithuania’s 29.9 per cent and Estonia’s was the lowest in the EU at 7.9 per cent. By comparison, the UK was a whopping 84.8 per cent.

This economic boom in the Baltic States is partly attributable to the skills and knowledge passed on by emigrants living in Western Europe and North America.

Born and raised in the small town of Silute, Lithuania, I was one such example, emigrating to the United Kingdom in 1998, where I started working as a carpenter in London. Over the next ten years, I worked my way up and in 2009, set up my own property refurbishment company.

Along this journey I have seen the need for inter-cultural exchange between the Baltic States and the United Kingdom. Many of my compatriots have thrived, setting up local businesses and serving local needs, providing goods and services that may not have been available before. Without a doubt Lithuania, and her Baltic neighbours Estonia and Latvia have benefited in return from the skills development, investment, and trade offered by one of the largest economies in the world.

I joined the Conservative Party because it is the party of business, and the natural path to developing trade relationships with interested nations. It was clear why, as an immigrant looking to succeed in the UK, I was drawn to the Conservatives from the beginning. Like so many others, I did not come to the UK looking to take advantage of the benefits system, but to give back to the country that welcomed me and to build a successful career.

I have founded the Conservative Friends of the Baltic States (CFBS) to build stronger and wider links between the Conservative Party and the Baltic States.

The CFBS recognises the successes and values of citizens from the Baltic States and advocates closer relations between our nations to the benefit of all. We also work to boost support for the Conservative Party amongst the Baltic States community. We will hold events and campaigning activities throughout the year.

I hope the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party will accept our offer to forge closer partnerships with the Baltic States. As well as boasting some of the fastest technological advancements in the world, all three countries offer a strong record of tourism, as well as vital NATO bases to keep an eye on Russian military activities.

The Baltic States will be at the centre of tourism and security in a post-Brexit world. It is worth bearing in mind that as long as Russia continues to pursue an expansionist policy, its neighbours will always require vital support from world powers such as the UK and the United States. As we leave the EU, we must look to trade partners with thriving core industries, both bigger economies such as the US and smaller, stable economies such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

As the Baltic States continue to wipe away the memory of one restrictive Union and forge a successful future, they may well be able to help post-Brexit Britain leave behind the bad memories of belonging to another.

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