I attended the bi-annual informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (known as the Gymnich) on 28 April in Valletta, Malta. The Gymnich was hosted by Dr George Veila, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta and was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Discussion centred on Turkey, globalisation, the EU global strategy and the previous day’s violence in the Macedonia Parliament.
Johannes Hahn (EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations) also attended. David McAllister (Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee) was present for the opening session on Turkey. EU Foreign Ministers met with the Foreign Ministers of the candidate countries in the afternoon.
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 19 June), Ministers do not take formal decisions or agree conclusions at the Gymnich.
EU Foreign Ministers discussed Turkey in the opening session, agreeing on the need to maintain a dialogue with this strategic partner. I welcomed this consensus and stressed the importance of the tone of our engagement. In the afternoon, EU Foreign Ministers were joined by their Turkish counterpart (Cavusoglu) who touched on a number of matters of shared interest, including the result of the recent constitutional referendum.
Ms. Mogherini introduced a discussion on how to ensure the global trade agenda delivers demonstrable benefits for all EU citizens.
EU global strategy (EUGS)
Ms. Mogherini gave the assembled EU Foreign Ministers an account of the EU’s activity in the foreign and security policy sphere since the publication of the global strategy (EUGS) last June.
Violence in the FYROM Parliament
Several member states condemned the violence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Parliament on 27 April. The FYROM Foreign Minister (Poposki) said there could be no justification for the violence and that those responsible would be brought to justice.