- Foreign relations of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom(UK) is a key player in international politics, with interests throughout the world. The former British Empire, notably through its successor, the Commonwealth of Nations, links the UK with many of the world's nations in one way or another. The UK has also exported its parliamentary style government, legal and financial systems, and language throughout the world. The UK is a major Member State in the European Union(EU) and holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
ummary of UK relations specific countries and regions
United States of America
The United Kingdom and the
United Statesare 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). The USA also maintains a large number of military personnel in the UK. In recent years, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdomand the President of the United Stateshave often been close friends, for example Tony Blairand Bill Clintonand later with George W. Bushand in the 1980s the often like-minded Margaret Thatcherand Ronald Reagan. Present British policy is that the relationship with the United Statesrepresents Britain's "most important bilateral relationship" [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f845cfdc-3bd8-11dc-8002-0000779fd2ac.html] .
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. The EEC eventually became the European Union through the Maastricht Treaty of the European Union in 1993. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/1/newsid_2459000/2459167.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 1 | 1973: Britain joins the EEC ] ] . Although the UK does not use the
Euroand is not a member of the Eurozone[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/1/newsid_4044000/4044891.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 1 | 2002: Celebrations as euro hits the streets ] ] , it still plays a leading role in the day to day workings of the EU. The UK has clashed with other Member States of the European Union, particularly with Franceand Germany, most recently over the US-led war with Iraq [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/20/newsid_3495000/3495453.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 20 | 2003: US launches missiles against Saddam ] ] .
Commonwealth of Nations
The UK has varied relationships with the countries that make up the
Commonwealth of Nationswhich originated from the British Empire. The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth and is head of 16 of its 53 member states. Those that retain the Queen as head of state are called Commonwealth Realms. The European Uniongenerally takes precedence over the Commonwealth, and the UK has tended to side with EU countries over Commonwealth countries when disputes arise. For example, over French nuclear testing, the UK sided with France over fellow Anglospherenations, Australiaand New Zealand. Over time several countries have been suspended from the Commonwealth for various reasons. Zimbabwewas suspended because of the authoritarian rule of its President [ [http://www.dfat.gov.au/intorgs/commonwealth/aus_comm_3.html The Commonwealth of Nations - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ] ] and so too was Pakistanbut 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 Malaysiaenjoyed no export duties before the UK concentrated their economic relationship with EU member states. This policy has somewhat backfired with the growth of India. British diplomats are now trying to assert this link.
India was a colony of Britain from 1858 to 1947 and the
British East India Companyruled over large parts of India from the 18th century before that. Since 1947, relations between the two countries have been good. Around two million Indian immigrants live in the United Kingdom. Indiais the second biggest investor in the UKfollowing the US. Indian culture and cuisine are very popular in the UK (although the stereotypical Indian curry, Chicken Tikka Massala, is actually Glaswegianrecipe). Tea is imported to Britain from India. Both India and the UK, are members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Republic of Ireland
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 Irelandin areas concerning the peace process in Northern Irelandas 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 1949Irish 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 Agreementthrough an amendment of the Irish Constitution, which now states an aspiration to peaceful unity. There is an ongoing dispute that also involves Denmarkand Iceland, over the status of the ocean floor surrounding Rockall. However, this is for the most part a trivial issue rarely makes it onto British-Irish meeting agendas. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/21/newsid_4582000/4582327.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 21 | 1955: Britain claims Rockall ] ]
Pakistan, being a former part of the crown jewel; the British Raj, Pakistan has maintained very good relations with the United Kingdom. Relations with Pakistan felt a slight drop in November 2007 due to the Pakistani state of emergency and resultant suspension of Pakistan from the commonwealth of Nations. Relations since then, however have improved dramatically.
World War IIthe UK has enjoyed excellent relations with West Germany, as well as the reunited Germany. The UK has maintained a large military prescence in Germany since World War II. Tony Blairand Gerhard Schröderalso enjoyed a good relationship although this was tempered by the Iraq War, where Germany aligned with France in not supporting military action against Iraq. The former German Democratic Republicwas a socialist statewith which the UK was naturally hostile towards during the Cold War. Germany and the UK are both members of the EU.
As with Germany the political position of both countries can be seen as very good, the British population engage in a lively and highly tongue-in-cheek relationship and mostly friendly rivalry with France, stemming from hundreds of years of rivalry and enmity between the two countries and perhaps epitomised by The Sun newspaper's relentless bashing of French institutions and personalities. There have been continual clashes publicly and through national newspapers over such issues as the
Common Agricultural Policy(CAP) where Franceis seen as a major net recipient and unduly so. However in important times the United Kingdom and France normally stick close together. The two nations maintain a mutual respect for one another as both countries suffered greatly during both World Wars in which both were members of the Allies.On a two-day summit which began in London26 March 2008, Queen Elizabeth II threw a lavish banquet at Windsor Castleafter taking the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozyon a carriage ride through the streets of Windsor. Gordon Brownhopes the visit will cement his warm relationship with Sarkozy, and offer a chance to discuss France's positive new stance toward the United States. Other weighty topics are: expansion of France's military role in NATOand Afghanistan, a joint nuclear energyprogram, immigration, and the Subprime mortgage crisisthat has spread from the United Statesto Europe. After visiting the queen, Sarkozy and Bruni-Sarkozy will lay a wreath at the Tomb of The Unknown Warriorat Westminster Abbey-- a gesture designed to emphasize that Britain and France have fought World War Iand World War IItogether. Besides, the meeting shall thrash out thorny issues including a stalled joint aircraft carrierproject and slow progress on a joint call for a 26,000-strong peacekeeping unit of United Nationsand African Uniontroops for Sudan's western Darfurregion. Relations between London and Paris have improved dramatically in recent months, and Sarkozy's arrival is a chance to "put it up in lights". [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/03/26/britain.france.ap/index.html UK to give Sarkozy, wife royal welcome - CNN.com ] ]
Between 4 and 5 million British tourists visit Italy every year, while 1 million Italian tourists visit the UK. [http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029394365&a=KCountryProfile&aid=1019061811914 Italy Country Profile, Foreign and Commonwealth Office] ] There are about 19,000 British nationals living in Italy, and 150,000 Italians living in the UK. [ [http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1056116855010 Bilateral Relations British Embassy, Italy ] ]
Britalian' - British people of Italian descent.
The United Kingdom has stated its support and recognition of the breakaway state of Kosovo from Serbia. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/02/19/kosovo.independence/index.html U.S., Britain, France and the Netherlands back Kosovo] ] The United Kingdom and Kosovo also maintain bilateral relations at ambassadorial level. The UK has been lobbying on behalf of the Republic of Kosovo for international recognition.
Ever since its recognized independence in 1948, the United Kingdom and
Israelhave shared cordial and strongly strategic relations; the two nations share interests in the fields of political cooperation, immigration (seeing as many British Jewsmigrate to Israel) and economic tradeFact|date=August 2008. Nevertheless, Anglo-Israeli relations became turbulent in the summer of 2006 when Prime Minister Tony Blair, along with many other European leaders criticized IDF airstrikes against Hezbollahtargets in Lebanon, which had high civilian casualties. During the current Brown premiership, relations between the two countries continued to remain close.
The UK maintains two sovereign area military bases on the island of
Cyprus. The UK is also a signatory to a treaty with Greeceand Turkeyconcerning the independence of Cyprus, the Treaty of Guarantee, which maintains that Britain is a "guarantor power" of the island's independence. [ [http://www.sba.mod.uk/ Sovereign Base Areas Cyprus ] ]
The UK was once a dominant colonial power in many countries on the continent of
Africaand remains the largest investor in sub-Saharan Africa. Nowadays the UK as lead member of the Commonwealth of Nationsseeks to influence Africa through its foreign policies. Current UK disputes are with Zimbabweover alleged human rights violations. Tony Blairhas set up the Africa Commissionand urged countries to end Third World Debt.
Major international disputes between the UK and foreign countries since 1945
* 1946 – territorial disputes with
Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, DDR, Bulgariaand others.
* 1948-1949 –
Berlin Blockade- dispute with USSR over access to West Berlin[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1998/03/98/berlin/72088.stm BBC News | Berlin | The Berlin blockade: Moscow draws the iron curtain ] ]
* 1950-1953 –
Korean War- war with the People's Republic of China/ North Korea
* 1951-1954 –
Abadan Crisis- dispute with Iranover expropriated oil assets
* 1956-1957 –
Suez Crisis- armed conflict with Egypt, 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[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/19/newsid_2530000/2530223.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 19 | 1973: Super tug to defend fishing fleet ] ]
* 1980 – with
Australiaover nuclear testing by the United Kingdom in lands claimed by some Aboriginal groups to be sacred.
* 1982 –
Falklands War- war with Argentinaover the Falkland Islands
* 1983 – dispute with the
United Statesover its Invasion of Grenada, of which Elizabeth II of the United Kingdomis the monarch. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/25/newsid_3207000/3207509.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 25 | 1983: US troops invade Grenada ] ] [ [http://countrystudies.us/caribbean-islands/82.htm Grenada - Relations with the United States ] ]
* 1984 – dispute with
Libyaafter a policewoman is shot dead in London by a gunman from within the Libyan embassy.
* 1988 – further dispute with Libya over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of
Lockerbie[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/21/newsid_2539000/2539447.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 21 | 1988: Jumbo jet crashes onto Lockerbie ] ]
* 1991 –
Gulf Warwith Iraq[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/17/newsid_2530000/2530375.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 17 | 1991: 'Mother of all Battles' begins ] ]
* 1994 – dispute with the
European Union, United Statesand Canadaover the ban on exports of British meat products, UK withdraws co-operation with the EU.Fact|date=August 2008
* 1995 – involvement in
Yugoslavia(specifically Bosnia) through NATO
* 1999 – involvement in NATO bombing campaign on
* 2001 – occupation of
* 2003 – war against, and subsequent occupation of,
Iraq, including disputes with Russia, France, and Germany
* 2007 – (ongoing) diplomatic dispute with
Russiaover the death of Alexander Litvinenko[ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jul/19/russia.world Timeline: Anglo-Russian relations | UK news | guardian.co.uk ] ]
Spainclaims the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3851047.stm BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Country profiles | Regions and territories: Gibraltar ] ]
Argentinaclaims the overseas territories of the Falkland Islandsand South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. [ [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Falkland_Islands Falkland Islands - LoveToKnow 1911 ] ]
Mauritiusclaims the entire Chagos Archipelagoin the British Indian Ocean Territory, including the island of Diego Garciaused as a joint UK/US military base since the 1950s when the inhabitants were forcibly removed, Blenheim Reef, Speakers Bank and all the other features. [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-121404611.html The battle for the Chagos archipelago: Mauritius is preparing to go to the International Court of Justice to re-claim its sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago. Nasseem Ackb... ] ]
* Dispute over
territorial watersand continental shelfrights around Rockall.
* There is a territorial claim in
Antarctica, the British Antarctic Territory, which overlaps with areas claimed by Chileand Argentina. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/19/climatechange.fossilfuels Argentina ready to challenge Britain's Antarctic claims | Environment | The Guardian ] ]
British military history
Common Travel Area
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Department for International Development
Heads of United Kingdom Missions
Sino-British Joint Declaration
Diplomatic missions of the United Kingdom
List of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom
* [http://www.fco.gov.uk Foreign and Commonwealth Office]
* [http://www.dfid.gov.uk Department for International Development]
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