Foreign relations of the United Kingdom
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politics and government of
the United Kingdom
The diplomatic foreign relations of the United Kingdom are implemented by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office headed by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The Prime Minister and numerous other agencies play a role in setting policy, and many institutions and businesses have a voice and a role.
Britain was the world's foremost power during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably during the so-called "Pax Britannica" - a period of totally unrivaled supremacy and unprecedented international peace during the mid-to-late 1800s. The country continued to be widely considered a 'superpower' until the Suez crisis of 1956, and this embarrassing incident coupled with the loss of the empire left the UK's dominant role in global affairs to be gradually diminished. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom remains a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a founding member of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Council of Europe, OSCE, and the Commonwealth of Nations, which is a legacy of the British Empire. The UK has been a member state of the European Union since 1973, but in 2016 a referendum triggered as a result of growing concerns over sovereignty and economic strategy determined that the country would begin proceedings to withdraw from the EU. Since the vote, policymakers have begun pursuing new trade agreements with other global partners.
- 1 History
- 2 Major international disputes since 1945
- 3 Sovereignty disputes
- 4 Commonwealth of Nations & Ireland
- 5 United States
- 6 Asia and Oceania
- 7 Europe
- 8 Middle East and North Africa
- 9 North America
- 10 Sub Saharan Africa
- 11 South America
- 12 International Organisations
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 Bibliography
- 16 External links
British foreign relations were largely inherited from the Kingdom of England's place in the world prior to the unification of Great Britain into a single United Kingdom. British foreign policy initially focused on achieving a balance of power within Europe, with no one country achieving dominance over the affairs of the continent. This was a major reason behind the British wars against Napoleon, and the UK's involvement in the First and Second World Wars. The chief enemy of the British, from the Hundred Years' War until the defeat of Napoleon (1337-1815) was France, a larger country with a more powerful army. The British were generally successful in their many wars, with the notable exception of the American War of Independence (1775–1783), when Britain, without any major allies, was defeated by the colonials who had the support of France, the Netherlands and Spain. A favoured diplomatic strategy was subsidising the armies of continental allies, such as Prussia, thereby turning London's enormous financial power to military advantage. Britain relied heavily on its Royal Navy for security, seeking to keep it the most powerful fleet afloat with a full complement of bases across the globe. British dominance of the seas was vital to the formation of the British Empire, which was achieved through the maintenance of a Navy larger than the next two largest Navies combined for the majority of the 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to the entry of the United States into the Second World War.
First World War
Britain was a "troubled giant" that was less of a dominant diplomatic force in the 1920s than before. It often had to give way to the United States, which frequently exercised its financial superiority.  The main themes of British foreign policy include a role at the the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, where Lloyd George worked hard to moderate French demands for revenge. He was partly successful, but Britain soon had to moderate French policy toward Germany, as in the Locarno Treaties. Britain was an active member of the new League of Nations, but its list of major achievements was slight.
Disarmament was high on the agenda, and Britain played a major role following the United States in the Washington Naval Conference of 1921 in working toward naval disarmament of the major powers. By 1933 disarmament had collapsed and the issue became rearming for a war against Germany. Britain was much less successful in negotiating with United States regarding the large loans. Britain was obliged to repay. Britain supported the American solution through the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan, whereby Germany paid its reparations using money borrowed from New York banks. The Great Depression starting in 1929 put enormous pressure on the British economy. Britain move toward imperial preference, which meant low tariffs among the Commonwealth of Nations, and higher barriers toward trade with outside countries. The flow of money from New York dried up, and the system of reparations and payment of debt died in 1931.
In domestic British politics, the emerging Labour Party had a distinctive and suspicious foreign policy based on pacifism. Its leaders believed that peace was impossible because of capitalism, secret diplomacy, and the trade in armaments. That is it stressed material factors that ignored the psychological memories of the Great War, and the highly emotional tensions regarding nationalism and the boundaries of the countries. Nevertheless party leader Ramsay MacDonald spent much of his attention on European policies.
Vivid memories of the horrors and deaths of the World War inclined many Britons--and their leaders in all parties--to pacifism in the interwar era. This led directly to the appeasement of dictators in order to avoid their threats of war.
The challenge came from dictators, first Benito Mussolini of Italy, then Adolf Hitler of a much more powerful Nazi Germany. The League of Nations proved disappointing to its supporters; it was unable to resolve any of the threats posed by the dictators. British policy was to "appease" them in the hopes they would be satiated. By 1938 it was clear that war was looming, and that Germany had the world's most powerful military. The final act of appeasement came when Britain and France sacrificed Czechoslovakia to Hitler's demands at the Munich Agreement of 1938. Instead of satiation Hitler menaced Poland, and at last Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain dropped appeasement and stood firm in promising to defend Poland. Hitler however cut a deal with Joseph Stalin to divide Eastern Europe; when Germany did invade Poland in September 1939, Britain and France declared war; the British Commonwealth followed London's lead.
Second World War
The British built up a very large worldwide British Empire, which peaked in size in 1922, after more than half a century of unchallenged global supremacy. The cumulative costs of fighting two world wars, however, placed a heavy burden upon the UK economy, and after 1945 the British Empire gradually began to disintegrate, with many territories granted independence. By the mid-to-late 1950s, the UK's status as a superpower had been largely diminished by the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union. Many former colonial territories joined the "Commonwealth of Nations," an organisation of fully independent nations now with equal status to the UK. Britain finally turned its attention to the continent, joining the European Union.
After 1945 Britain systematically reduced its overseas commitments. Practically all the colonies became independent. Britain reduced its involvements in the Middle east, with the humiliating Suez Crisis of 1956 marking the end of its status as a superpower. However Britain did forge close military ties with the United States, France, and traditional foes such as Germany, in the NATO military alliance. After years of debate (and rebuffs), Britain joined the Common Market in 1973; it is now the European Union. However it did not merge financially, and kept the pound separate from the Euro, which kept it partly isolated from the EU financial crisis of 2011. As of 23 June 2016, the UK has voted to leave the EU.
Foreign policy initiatives of UK governments since the 1990s have included military intervention in conflicts and for peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance programmes and increased aid spending, support for establishment of the International criminal court, debt relief for developing countries, prioritisation of initiatives to address climate change, and promotion of free trade. The British approach has been described as "spread the right norms and sustain NATO".
Lunn et al. (2008) argue:
- Three key motifs of Tony Blair’s 10-year premiership were an activist philosophy of 'interventionism', maintaining a strong alliance with the US and a commitment to placing Britain at the heart of Europe. While the 'special relationship' and the question of Britain’s role in Europe have been central to British foreign policy since the Second World War...interventionism was a genuinely new element.
In 2013, the government of David Cameron described its approach to foreign policy by saying:
- For any given foreign policy issue, the UK potentially has a range of options for delivering impact in our national interest. ... [W]e have a complex network of alliances and partnerships through which we can work.... These include – besides the EU – the UN and groupings within it, such as the five permanent members of the Security Council (the “P5”); NATO; the Commonwealth; the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; the G8 and G20 groups of leading industrialised nations; and so on.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 highlighted a range of foreign policy initiatives of the UK government. Edward Longinotti notes how current British defence policy is grappling with how to accommodate two major commitments, to Europe and to an ‘east of Suez’ global military strategy, within a modest defence budget that can only fund one. He points out that Britain’s December 2014 agreement to open a permanent naval base in Bahrain underlines its gradual re-commitment east of Suez.
A momentous change is underway in 2016 after the British electorate voted fro "Brexit"—to leave the European Union.
Major international disputes since 1945
- 1946-49 – involved in Greek Civil War
- 1945-48 – Mandate for occupation of Palestine until the creation of Israel and an independent Palestine by the UN could be formalised in 1948. British forces often faced conflict with Arab nationalists and Jewish Zionist militia, including those who blew up the King David Hotel in 1946, Killing 91 people including civilians, military personnel and wounding 45 others.
- 1947-1991 – Cold War with Soviet Union
- 1948-1949 – Berlin Blockade - dispute with USSR over access to West Berlin and general Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe 
- 1948-1960 – Malayan Emergency - armed conflict against the politically isolated Communist forces of the Malayan National Liberation Army
- 1950-1953 – Korean War - war with North Korea
- 1951-1954 – Abadan Crisis - dispute with Iran over expropriated oil assets
- 1956-1957 – Suez Crisis - armed conflict with Egypt over its seizure of the Suez Canal Zone, and dispute with most of international community
- 1958 – First Cod War - fishing dispute with Iceland
- 1962-1966 – Konfrontasi - war with Indonesia
- 1972-1973 – Second Cod War - fishing dispute with Iceland
- 1975-1976 – Third Cod War - fishing dispute with Iceland
- 1982 – Falklands War - war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands and other British South Atlantic territory.
- 1983 – Condemnation of the United States over its invasion of Grenada.
- 1984 – dispute with Libya after a policewoman is shot dead in London by a gunman from within the Libyan embassy and considerable Libyan support for terrorists in Northern Ireland-the IRA.
- 1988 – further dispute with Libya over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie
- 1991 – Gulf War with Iraq
- 1995 – under UN mandate, military involvement in Yugoslavia (specifically Bosnia)
- 1997 – Hong Kong handover to Chinese rule. Britain secures guarantees for a "special status" that would continue capitalism and protect existing British property.
- 1999 – involvement in NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia over Kosovo
- 2000 – decisive British action in saving the UN peacekeeping force from collapse and defeating the anti-government rebellion during the Sierra Leone Civil War
- 2001 – UN-sponsored war against, and subsequent occupation of, Afghanistan
- 2003 – Collaborate with US and others in war and occupation of, Iraq Over 46,000 British troops subsequently occupy Basra and Southern Iraq
- 2007 – (ongoing) diplomatic dispute with Russia over the death of Alexander Litvinenko Additional matters have strained British-Russian relations; continued espionage, Russian human rights violations and support of regimes hostile to the west (Syria,Iran)
- 2009 – (ongoing) Dispute with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, including sanctions and Iranian condemnation of the British government culminating in a 2011 attack on the British Embassy in Iran.
- 2011 – under UN mandate, UK Armed Forces participated in enforcing the Libyan No-Fly Zone as part of Operation Ellamy
- 2013 – support to French forces in the Malian civil war, including training and equipment to African peacekeeping and Malian government forces.
- 2015 – support to US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
- 2016 – P5+1 and EU implement a deal with Iran intended to prevent the country gaining access to nuclear weapons.
- Spain claims the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.
- Mauritius claims the entire Chagos Archipelago in the British Indian Ocean Territory, including the island of Diego Garcia used as a joint UK/US military base since the 1970s when the inhabitants were forcibly removed, Blenheim Reef, Speakers Bank and all the other features.
- Conflicting claims over the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, controlled by the United Kingdom but claimed by Argentina. The dispute escalated into the Falklands War in 1982 over the islands' sovereignty, in which Argentina was defeated.
- There is a territorial claim in Antarctica, the British Antarctic Territory, which overlaps with areas claimed by Chile and Argentina.
- Dispute over territorial waters and continental shelf rights around Rockall.
- The presence on the island of Cyprus of the British Overseas Territory and military bases Akrotiri and Dhekelia is sometimes raised as a sovereignty issue.
Commonwealth of Nations & Ireland
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The UK has varied relationships with the countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations which originated from the British Empire. Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is the head of the Commonwealth and is head of state of 16 of its 53 member states. Those that retain the Queen as head of state are called Commonwealth realms. Over time several countries have been suspended from the Commonwealth for various reasons. Zimbabwe was suspended because of the authoritarian rule of its President and so too was Pakistan, but it has since returned. Countries which become republics are still eligible for membership of the Commonwealth so long as they are deemed democratic. Commonwealth nations such as Malaysia enjoyed no export duties in trade with the UK before the UK concentrated its economic relationship with EU member states.
The UK was once a dominant colonial power in many countries on the continent of Africa and its multinationals remain large investors in sub-Saharan Africa. Nowadays the UK, as a leading member of the Commonwealth of Nations, seeks to influence Africa through its foreign policies. Current UK disputes are with Zimbabwe over human rights violations. Tony Blair set up the Africa Commission and urged rich countries to cease demanding developing countries repay their large debts. Relationships with developed (often former dominion) nations are strong with numerous cultural, social and political links, mass inter-migration trade links as well as calls for Commonwealth free trade.
Australia–United Kingdom relations are close, marked by shared history, culture, institutions and language, extensive people-to-people links, aligned security interests, and vibrant trade and investment cooperation. The long-standing relationship formally began in 1901 when the six British Crown colonies in Australia federated, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed as a Dominion of the British Empire. Australia fought alongside Britain in World War I, notably at Gallipoli, and again in World War II. Andrew Fisher, Australian prime minister from 1914 to 1916, declared that Australia would defend the United Kingdom "to the last man and the last shilling." Until 1949, the United Kingdom and Australia shared a common nationality code. The final constitutional ties between United Kingdom and Australia ended in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act 1986. Currently, roughly 1/4 of the Australian population was born in the UK, giving strong mutual relations. Furthermore, investment and trade between the two countries, is still important.
The two countries are related through common history, the Commonwealth of Nations and their sharing of the same Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II as their Monarch. As one of the first English colonies, the initial permanent European settlement took place in the early seventeenth century by English settlers. Barbados thereafter remained as a territory until it negotiated independence in 1966. In recent years, increasing numbers of British nationals have purchased secondary homes in Barbados, and the islands ranked as the Caribbean regions' fourth largest export market of the United Kingdom. The British High Commission was established in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1966 and there is also a Barbadian High Commission in London.
In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate, gaining its independence from British rule less than 100 years later in 1984.
The UK and Brunei have a long-standing and strong bilateral relationship, particularly on defence co-operation, trade and education. The UK continues to play a strong role in developing Brunei’s oil and gas sector, and the Brunei Investment Agency is a significant investor in the UK, with their largest overseas operations in the City of London. The UK remains the destination of choice for Bruneian students, with about 1,220 of them enrolled in higher education in the UK in 2006-07.
London and Ottawa enjoy cooperative and intimate contact; the two countries are related through history, the Commonwealth of Nations, and their sharing of the same Head of State and monarch. Both countries fought together in both World Wars, the Korean War, and more recently cooperate in the coalition in the War in Afghanistan. Both are founding members of NATO, and also belong to the G7 (and the G8). Winston Churchill said Canada was the "linchpin of the English-speaking world", as it connects two other anglophone countries: the US and the UK. These three countries were the first to share the knowledge of the atom bomb with each other, as all three worked on the Manhattan Project together. Despite this shared history, the UK and Canada have grown apart economically. The UK was Canada's largest trade partner is the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is now well down the list. The two nations now find themselves in separate trade blocs, the EU for the UK and NAFTA for Canada. However relations are still strong, with large migration between the two countries, as well as Canada having the highest favourable public opinion of the UK in the world.
The UK maintains two sovereign area military bases on the island of Cyprus. The UK is also a signatory to a treaty with Greece and Turkey concerning the independence of Cyprus, the Treaty of Guarantee, which maintains that Britain is a "guarantor power" of the island's independence.
Both countries are members of the European Union.
India has a high commission in London and two consulates-general in Birmingham and Edinburgh. The United Kingdom has a high commission in New Delhi and three deputy high commissions in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Although the Sterling Area no longer exists and the Commonwealth is much more an informal forum, India and the UK still have many enduring links. This is in part due to the significant number of people of Indian origin living in the UK. The Asian population in the UK results in steady travel and communication between the two countries. The English language, the railways, the legal and parliamentary systems and cricket have been warmly adopted. Indian cuisines are popular in the UK. The United Kingdom's favourite food is often reported to be Indian cuisine, although no official study reports this.
Economically the relationship between Britain and India is also strong. India is the second largest investor in Britain after the US, this being demonstrated by Tata Motors' ownership of British-based Jaguar Land Rover. Britain is also one of the largest investors in India.
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Despite a long history of conflict from English Tudor plantation in Ireland to the Irish War of independence, the UK presently works closely with the government of the Republic of Ireland in areas concerning the peace process in Northern Ireland as well as on many security issues. In 1949 the Irish Houses of Parliament passed the Republic of Ireland Act, making the Republic of Ireland officially fully independent; the country withdrew from the Commonwealth. Under the Ireland Act 1949 Irish citizens are treated as though they are Commonwealth citizens and not aliens for the purposes of law. Until 1998, the Republic of Ireland claimed Northern Ireland, but this was rescinded under the Belfast Agreement through an amendment of the Irish Constitution, which now states an aspiration to peaceful unity. There is an ongoing dispute that also involves Denmark and Iceland, over the status of the ocean floor surrounding Rockall. However, this is for the most part a trivial issue that rarely makes it onto British-Irish meeting agendas.
Both countries are members of the European Union.
The United Kingdom has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has a high commission in London. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Both the UK and Malaysia are part of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements. Malaysia is a strong partner of Britain in the Far East. Britain has made numerous military sacrifices in guaranteeing a stable independent Malaysia, for example the Malaysian Emergency and the protection of the country during high tensions with Indonesia-Konfrontasi.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah paid a state visit to the United Kingdom in July 1974. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak paid a state visit to the United Kingdom in November 1993. HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom paid state visits to Malaysia in October 1989, and in September 1998.
In the 1950s and 1960s, serious consideration was given in both countries to the idea of a political union between the United Kingdom and Malta. However, this plan for "Integration with Britain" foundered, and Malta gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. British Monarch Queen Elizabeth II remained Queen of Malta until the country became a Republic in 1974. There is a small Maltese community in the United Kingdom. In addition, the British overseas territory of Gibraltar has been influenced by significant 18th and 19th Century immigration from Malta (see "History of the Maltese in Gibraltar").
Both countries are members of the European Union.
Nauru was part of the British Western Pacific Territories from September 1914 and June 1921. The British Government had ceased to exercise any direct role in the governance of Nauru by 1968, when the island achieved its independence. The Nauruan government maintains an Hon. Consul, Martin W I Weston. The British High Commission in Suva is responsible for the United Kingdom's bilateral relations with Nauru.
Up to about the 1960s, New Zealand also had extremely close economic relations with the United Kingdom, especially considering the distance at which trade took place. As an example, in 1955, Britain took 65.3 percent of New Zealand's exports, and only during the following decades did this dominant position begin to decline as the United Kingdom oriented itself more towards the European Union, with the share of exports going to Britain having fallen to only 6.2 percent in 2000. Historically, some industries, such as dairying, a major economic factor in the former colony, had even more dominant trade links, with 80-100% of all cheese and butter exports going to Britain from around 1890 to 1940. This strong bond also supported the mutual feelings for each other in other areas.
Nigeria, formerly a colony, gained independence from Britain in 1960. Large numbers of Nigerians have since emigrated to Britain. The British government played an important role in resolving the Nigerian Civil War. Trade and investment between the two countries are strong, many British multinational companies are active in Nigeria, especially Shell in oil and gas production.
Pakistan before partition was part of Indian Empire from 1 November 1858 to 13 August 1947. Both UK and Pakistan are active members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Favourable opinion of Britain is much lower in Pakistan, relative to many other Commonwealth countries, this is because the UK is seen as an ally of the US. However, large numbers of Pakistanis live, work and study in the UK and the British government has refused to support US infringements into northern Pakistan during the Afghanistan War, thinking it wrong to violate Pakistani sovereignty as so.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom share Queen Elizabeth as their head of state. They have had relations since 1975 when Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia (then still a British Dominion).
Singapore and the United Kingdom share a friendly relationship since Singapore became independent from the United Kingdom in 1959. Singapore retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal up till 1989 (fully abolished in 1994) due to political reasons.
The United Kingdom and the United States are close military allies. The two countries share cultural similarities, as well as military research and intelligence facilities. The UK has purchased military technology from the USA such as Tomahawk cruise missiles and Trident nuclear missiles, and the US has purchased equipment from Britain (e.g. Harrier Jump Jet). The USA also maintains a large number of military personnel in the UK. In recent years, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States have often been close friends, for example Tony Blair and Bill Clinton (and later Blair and George W. Bush), and the often like-minded Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Present British policy is that The United Kingdom's relationship with the United States represents Britain's "most important bilateral relationship".
Asia and Oceania
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Afghanistan||1921||See Foreign relations of Afghanistan|
|Australia||1936||See Australia–United Kingdom relations|
|Bangladesh||1972||See Foreign relations of Bangladesh|
|Bhutan||No Relations||See Foreign relations of Bhutan|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||See Foreign relations of British Indian Ocean Territory|
|Brunei||1984||See Foreign relations of Brunei|
|Burma||1948||See Foreign relations of Burma|
|Cambodia||1953||See Foreign relations of Cambodia|
|People's Republic of China||1954||See China–United Kingdom relations
Although on opposing sides of the Cold War, both countries were allies during World War II, and are members of the UN. But because of the Cold War, First and Second Opium War, and the status of Hong Kong, and other issues, China-UK relations at some points in history have been complicated, but better at other times.
|Fiji||1970||See Foreign relations of Fiji|
|Hong Kong||See Hong Kong–United Kingdom relations and Foreign relations of Hong Kong|
|India||1947||See India–United Kingdom relations|
|Indonesia||1949||See Indonesia–United Kingdom relations|
|Japan||1854-10-14||See Japan–United Kingdom relations
Contact began in 1600 with the arrival of William Adams (Adams the Pilot, Miura Anjin) on the shores of Kyūshū at Usuki in Ōita Prefecture. During the Sakoku period (1641–1853) there were no relations, but the treaty of 1854 saw the resumption of ties which, despite the hiatus of the Second World War, remain very strong in the present day.
|Kazakhstan||1992-01-19||See Kazakhstan–United Kingdom relations
The United Kingdom opened an embassy in Kazakhstan in October 1992 and Kazakhstan opened an embassy in Britain in February 1996. Kazakhstan's relations with the West have greatly improved in the last few years as the Government has closely cooperated in the United States-led War on Terror. See also: Counter-terrorism in Kazakhstan
Britain is the third-largest foreign investor in Kazakhstan with British companies making up 14% of foreign direct investment. Over 100 British companies do business in Kazakhstan.
|Kiribati||1979||See Foreign relations of Kiribati|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||2000||See North Korea–United Kingdom relations|
|Kyrgyzstan||1992||See Kyrgyzstan–United Kingdom relations|
|Laos||1952||See Foreign relations of Laos|
|Macao||See Foreign relations of Macao|
|Malaysia||1957||See Malaysia–United Kingdom relations|
|Maldives||1965||See Foreign relations of the Maldives|
|Marshall Islands||1991||See Foreign relations of Marshall Islands|
|Micronesia||1992-08-31||See Foreign relations of Micronesia|
|Mongolia||1963-01-23||See Foreign relations of Mongolia|
|Nauru||1968||See Nauru–United Kingdom relations|
|Nepal||1816-09-01||See Nepal–United Kingdom relations|
|New Zealand||1939||See New Zealand–United Kingdom relations|
|Pakistan||1947||See Pakistan–United Kingdom relations|
|Palau||See Foreign relations of Palau|
|Papua New Guinea||1975||See Papua New Guinea–United Kingdom relations|
|Philippines||1946-07-04||See Foreign relations of the Philippines#United Kingdom
|Pitcairn Islands||See Foreign relations of the Pitcairn Islands|
|Samoa||1962||See Foreign relations of Samoa|
|Singapore||1965||See Singapore–United Kingdom relations|
|Solomon Islands||1978||See Foreign relations of the Solomon Islands|
|South Korea||1949-01-18||See South Korea–United Kingdom relations
|Sri Lanka||1948||See Sri Lanka–United Kingdom relations|
|Taiwan||No Relations||See Taiwan–United Kingdom relations|
|Tajikistan||1992||See Foreign relations of Tajikistan|
|Thailand||1855-04-18||See Thailand–United Kingdom relations|
|East Timor||2002||See Foreign relations of East Timor|
|Tonga||1970||See Foreign relations of Tonga|
|Turkmenistan||1992||See Foreign relations of Turkmenistan|
|Tuvalu||1978||See Foreign relations of Tuvalu|
|Uzbekistan||1992||See United Kingdom–Uzbekistan relations|
|Vanuatu||1980||See Foreign relations of Vanuatu|
|Vietnam||1973||See Foreign relations of Vietnam|
The UK has had good relations with the rest of Europe since the Second World War. It became a member of the European Economic Community in 1973, which eventually evolved into the European Union through the Maastricht Treaty twenty years later. Although the UK does not use the Euro and is not a member of the Eurozone, it still plays a leading role in the day-to-day workings of the EU. However it has been referred to[by whom?] as a "peculiar" member of the EU, due to its often strained relations with the organisation.
Britain has a century-long alliance with France, through the Entente Cordiale, which was reconfirmed through the November 2010 Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty – setting up a joint expeditionary force, joint naval battlegroup capability and some nuclear collaboration – as well as extremely close cooperation with France over the 2011 Libyan civil war and Libyan no-fly zone.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Albania||1920-12||See Albania–United Kingdom relations|
|Andorra||1994-03-09||See Foreign relations of Andorra
|Armenia||1992-01-02||See Armenia–United Kingdom relations|
|Austria||1799||See Foreign relations of Austria
|Azerbaijan||1992||See Foreign relations of Azerbaijan
Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
|Belarus||1992||See Foreign relations of Belarus|
|Belgium||1830||See Belgium–United Kingdom relations
The two countries have trading links going back to the 10th century, especially wool trade from England to the County of Flanders.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1995||See Foreign relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Bulgaria||1879-07||See Bulgaria–United Kingdom relations
|Croatia||1992||See Foreign relations of Croatia|
|Cyprus||1960||Cyprus is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. See Commonwealth of Nations & Ireland Section above|
|Czech Republic||1993||See Czech Republic–United Kingdom relations
|Denmark||1654-10-01||See Denmark–United Kingdom relations
The United Kingdom has an embassy in Copenhagen and Denmark has an embassy in London. Both countries are full members of NATO and of the European Union. HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark paid state visits to the United Kingdom in April/May 1974, and in February 2000. HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom paid state visits to Denmark in May 1957, and in May 1979.
|Estonia||1991||See Foreign relations of Estonia|
|Finland||1919-05-06||See Foreign relations of Finland
|France||1505||See France–United Kingdom relations|
|Georgia||1992||See Georgia–United Kingdom relations|
|Germany||1680||See Germany–United Kingdom relations
|Greece||1832||See Greece–United Kingdom relations
|Holy See||1982||See Holy See–United Kingdom relations
With the English Reformation, diplomatic links between London and the Holy See, which had been established in 1479, were interrupted in 1536 and again, after a brief restoration in 1553, in 1558. Formal diplomatic ties between the United Kingdom and the Holy See were restored in 1914 and raised to ambassadorial level in 1982.
See also: Foreign relations of Hungary
|Iceland||1944||See Iceland–United Kingdom relations
|Ireland||1921||See Ireland–United Kingdom relations
|Italy||1861||See Italy–United Kingdom relations
Between 4 and 5 million British tourists visit Italy every year, while 1 million Italian tourists visit the UK. There are about 19,000 British nationals living in Italy, and 150,000 Italians living in the UK.
|Kosovo||2008||See Kosovo–United Kingdom relations
When Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, the United Kingdom became one of the first countries to officially announce recognition of sovereign Kosovo on 18 February 2008. The United Kingdom has had an embassy in Pristina since 5 March 2008. Kosovo has an embassy in London since 1 October 2008.
|Latvia||1991||See Foreign relations of Latvia|
|Lithuania||1991-09-04||See Lithuania–United Kingdom relations
There are around 100,000 Lithuanians living in the United Kingdom. Both countries are full members of NATO and of the European Union. In 2006, HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip paid an official state visit to Lithuania.
|Malta||1964||See Malta–United Kingdom relations
Malta is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. See Commonwealth of Nations & Ireland Section above.
|Moldova||1992-01-17||See Foreign relations of Moldova
The number of British and Moldovan citizens in Moldova and the United Kingdom respectively is insignificant. When visiting Moldova no visa obligation exists for British citizens for stays in Moldova less than 90 days, otherwise a visa is required. For Moldovan citizens a visa is required for any border crossing, except for transfer passengers.
|Montenegro||2006-06-13||See Montenegro–United Kingdom relations
|Netherlands||1603||See Netherlands–United Kingdom relations
|Norway||1905||See Norway–United Kingdom relations
|Poland||1919||See Poland–United Kingdom relations
In the 1990s and 2000s democratic Poland has maintained close relations with Britain; both in defence matters and within the EU; Britain being one of only a few countries allowing equal rights to Polish workers upon their accession in 2004.
|Portugal||1373||See Portugal–United Kingdom relations
The relationship dates back to the Middle Ages in 1373 with the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance.
|Romania||1880-02-20||See Romania–United Kingdom relations
|Russia||1553||See Russia–United Kingdom relations
Spanning nearly five centuries, the relationship has often switched from a state of alliance to rivalry. Presently there is a diplomatic row going on over extraditions.
|San Marino||1899;1961||See San Marino–United Kingdom relations|
|Serbia||1837||See Serbia–United Kingdom relations
|Slovenia||1992||See Foreign relations of Slovenia|
|Spain||1509||See Spain–United Kingdom relations
During the Second World War Spain remained neutral, but were perceived to be closely aligned with Nazi Germany. Following the end of the war, frosty relations continued between the two states until the end of the Franco era and the democratisation of Spain.
|Sweden||1653||See Foreign relations of Sweden
|Switzerland||1900||See Switzerland and the European Union|
|Turkey||1793||See Turkey–United Kingdom relations
The United Kingdom is the second biggest importer of goods from Turkey, after Germany. Turkey exports around 8% of its total goods to the United Kingdom. Around 1,000,000 Britons take holidays in Turkey every year, while 100,000 Turks travel to the UK for business or pleasure.
The United Kingdom does not recognise the TRNC. The TRNC is only recognised by Turkey. The UK is also a signatory to a treaty with Greece and Turkey concerning the independence of Cyprus, the Treaty of Guarantee, which maintains that Britain is a "guarantor power" of the island's independence.
|Ukraine||1991||See Ukraine–United Kingdom relations
Middle East and North Africa
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Algeria||1962||See Foreign relations of Algeria|
|Bahrain||1971||See Bahrain–United Kingdom relations
|Egypt||1922||See Egypt–United Kingdom relations|
|Iran||1807||See Iran–United Kingdom relations
Iran, which was known as Persia before 1935, has had political relations with England since the late Ilkhanate period (13th century) when King Edward I of England sent Geoffrey de Langley to the Ilkhanid court to seek an alliance.
|Iraq||1920||See Iraq–United Kingdom relations
Sanctions against Iraq from 1990 to 2003 prevented any form of economic relations with the United Kingdom and any other country for thirteen years. Ties between London and Baghdad are slowly progressing.
|Israel||1948||See Israel–United Kingdom relations|
|Jordan||1952||See Foreign relations of Jordan|
|Kuwait||1961||See Foreign relations of Kuwait|
|Lebanon||1944||See Foreign relations of Lebanon|
|Libya||See Libya–United Kingdom relations|
|Mauritania||1960||See Foreign relations of Mauritania|
|Morocco||1956||See Morocco–United Kingdom relations
According to some accounts, in the beginning of the 13th century King John of England (1167–1216) sent an embassy to the Almohad Sultan Muhammad al-Nasir (1199–1213), requesting military support and an alliance against France. At home, King John was faced with a dire situation, in which his Barons revolted against him, he had been excommunicated by the Pope, and France was threatening to invade. The embassy of three was led by Bishop Roger, and King John supposedly offered to convert to Islam and pay a tribute to al-Nasir in exchange for his help. Al-Nasir apparently dismissed the proposal.
|Oman||1971||See Oman–United Kingdom relations
The relations between the United Kingdom and Oman are strong and strategic. In April 2010 the government of Oman stated that it wanted to buy Eurofighter Typhoons from the UK. The United Kingdom has an embassy in Mina al Fahal and Oman has an embassy in London.
|Palestinian Authority||See Palestine–United Kingdom relations
The United Kingdom maintains a consulate in Jerusalem which handles British relations with the Palestinian Authority. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office states the "Consular district covers Jerusalem (West and East), the West Bank and Gaza. As well as work on the Middle East Peace Process and other political issues, the Consulate also promotes trade between the UK and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and manages an extensive programme of aid and development work. The latter is undertaken primarily by the DFID office in Jerusalem.".
|Qatar||1971||See Qatar-United Kingdom relations|
|Saudi Arabia||1927||See Saudi Arabia–United Kingdom relations|
|Tunisia||1956||See Foreign relations of Tunisia|
|United Arab Emirates||1971||See United Arab Emirates–United Kingdom relations|
|Yemen||1970||See Yemen–United Kingdom relations|
Sub Saharan Africa
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Argentina||1823-12-15||See Argentina–United Kingdom relations
|Ascension Island||See Foreign relations of Ascension Island|
|Bolivia||1837||See Foreign relations of Bolivia|
|Brazil||1826||See Foreign relations of Brazil|
|Chile||1844||See Chile–United Kingdom relations
Britain also once played an important role in investments and diplomacy in Chile and South America as a whole.
Chile provided some assistance to Britain during the Falklands War since it was itself at risk of possible war with Argentina regarding the boundary between the two nations in the Beagle Channel.
|Colombia||1825-04-18||See Colombia–United Kingdom relations
|Ecuador||1935||See Foreign relations of Ecuador
In 2012, relations came under strain when Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks website, entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London and sought asylum; Assange had recently lost a legal case against his extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual assault and rape, but when within the embassy he was on diplomatic territory and beyond the reach of the British police. The United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office delivered a note to the Ecuadorian government in Quito reminding them of the provisions of the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 which allow the British government to withdraw recognition of diplomatic protection from embassies; the move was interpreted as a hostile act by Ecuador, with Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño stating that this "explicit threat" would be met with "appropriate responses in accordance with international law". Assange was granted diplomatic asylum on 16 August 2012, with Foreign Minister Patiño stating that Assange's fears of political persecution were "legitimate".
|Falkland Islands||See Foreign relations of Falkland Islands|
|Guyana||1966||See Foreign relations of Guyana|
|Paraguay||1853-03-04||See Paraguay–United Kingdom relations
Diplomatic relations between both countries were established on 4 March 1853, with the signing of a treaty of Friendship, Trade and Navigation. A dominant view in Paraguay and significant in all the Southern Cone is that the interests of the British Empire played a considerable role during the Paraguayan War.
|Peru||1827||See Foreign relations of Peru|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||See Foreign relations of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands|
|Suriname||1975||See Foreign relations of Suriname|
|Tristan da Cunha||See Foreign relations of Tristan da Cunha|
|Uruguay||1825||See United Kingdom–Uruguay relations
|Venezuela||1842||See Venezuela–United Kingdom relations; Venezuelan crisis of 1902–03|
The United Kingdom is a member of the following international organisations:
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, Commonwealth of Nations, CBSS (observer), CDB, Council of Europe, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA, European Union, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G7, G8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD (also known as the World Bank), ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SECI (observer), UN, United Nations Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNRWA, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, Zangger Committee
- Timeline of British diplomatic history
- Timeline of imperialism
- History of the United Kingdom
- British military history
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- Department for International Development
- Heads of United Kingdom Missions
- List of diplomatic missions of the United Kingdom
- List of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom
- Visa requirements for British citizens
- Declaration of war by the United Kingdom
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The British solution: spread the right norms and sustain NATO ... The new rules placed humanitarian intervention above the principle of sovereignty. Blair stated that this 'would become the basis of an approach to future conflict'.
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Defence Review would be foreign policy led
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Barbados is the UK's fourth largest export market in the Caribbean. Traditionally the UK has maintained close trading links with Barbados despite strong competition from the United States, Canada and Japan. Barbados is a small market in global terms yet remains a key one for UK companies in the region. In 2008, UK exports to Barbados were valued at over £38.0 million. Invisibles such as banking, insurance and consultancy are of considerable importance.
- http://geo.international.gc.ca/cip-pic/geo/united-kingdom-bb-en.aspx Foreign Affairs - Canada-United Kingdom Relations
- Sovereign Base Areas Cyprus
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- British embassy in India
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- Our embassy
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- BBC ON THIS DAY | 1 | 1973: Britain joins the EEC
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- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland: Countries and regions: Great Britain
- UK in Finland
- France in the United Kingdom - La France au Royaume-Uni
- L’Ambassade de Grande-Bretagne en France Other locations
- Other locations
- British Embassy to the Holy See: "UK-Holy See relations"
- "Holy See". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
Formal diplomatic links between the United Kingdom and the Holy See were first established in 1479 when John Shirwood was appointed as the first resident Ambassador. Shirwood was also the first English Ambassador to serve abroad, making the embassy to the Holy See the oldest embassy in the UK diplomatic service.
- Peter Laszlo, and Martyn Rady, British-Hungarian Relations Since 1848 (2004), 366pp
- Italy Country Profile, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
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Northern Ireland's police chief warned Thursday that recent attacks on Romanian immigrants that forced 20 families to flee their homes are damaging the region's economy and reputation.
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