By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is starting a three-day tour in Europe to discuss the future relationship arrangements of his country with the EU.
He “will today begin a three-day visit to Finland, Latvia, Denmark and the Netherlands to continue his discussions with European partners on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU,” a government statement said.
It said the foreign secretary will meet the foreign ministers of all four countries to “outline the U.K.’s determination to build a new relationship with Europe after Brexit which will offer a bright future that benefits all on our continent.”
Hunt said the U.K. shares “history and values with our partners in Europe" and that they "work side-by-side to defend the rules-based international system on which our safety and prosperity depend.”
“I’m delighted to be visiting four close European partners this week to reiterate that these strong ties will not diminish once we leave the EU,” he added.
Underlining the common threats, “including terrorism and the destabilising activities of Russia,” Hunt thanked the four countries for the solidarity they showed with Britain “when Russia used a chemical weapon on British soil,” referring to the Sergei and Yulia Skripal poisoning incident this March.
Hunt said the U.K.’s strategic choice in Brexit negotiations “is to build a deep and special partnership with the remaining member states.”
“We want to safeguard our operational capacity as we leave the EU, and so we have put forward precise, credible proposals that ensure our ability to act is maintained,” he said.
The British foreign secretary said they “are now at the point where the EU also faces strategic choices: with the option to move the negotiations forward and achieve a deal that works in our mutual interests.”
“My simple message is that we need to take that opportunity,” he added.
The U.K. is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019 but a final deal to shape future U.K.-EU relations still has to be agreed upon by the sides.