My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the biannual informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (known as the Gymnich) on 15-16 February in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Gymnich was hosted by Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ekaterina Zaharieva and was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Discussion centred on Syria, the western Balkans and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
EU Foreign Ministers met Foreign Ministers of the candidate countries over dinner on 15 February and on the morning of 16 February.
The format of the Gymnich is designed to allow EU Foreign Ministers to engage in informal discussion on a number of issues. In contrast to the Foreign Affairs Council (the next of which will be held on 26 February), Ministers do not take formal decisions or agree conclusions at the Gymnich.
Ministers expressed concern about the security situation. My right hon. Friend spoke about the importance of the Geneva peace talks and maintaining pressure on the Syrian regime.
Ministers discussed the strategy, recently published by the Commission, and agreed the importance of remaining engaged in the region.
Ministers briefly discussed the DPRK. They welcomed renewed engagement between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea while emphasising the importance of maintaining pressure, including through the full implementation of sanctions.