Today, 7 September, the two-day informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers (Gymnich) began in Tallinn, with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini presiding. A discussion held jointly with defence ministers also addressed the implementation of EU defence initiatives, including the European Commission’s initiative to support the European defence industry and cross-border cooperation between defence contractors.
Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said increasing attention must be paid to effective cooperation in the field of security and defence, both within and outside the EU as well as in cooperation with candidate states. “Events in recent years have dealt a heavy blow to our people’s sense of security and it is completely understandable that the public expects a greater role from the EU as a guarantor of security both inside and outside the EU,” said Mikser, adding that a secure and protected Europe is also one of the primary priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU and that today’s discussions showed a firm commitment from Member States to strengthen cooperation in this field.
Other topics discussed at the Gymnich foreign ministers’ meeting were the latest developments on the Korean peninsula and North Korea’s recent missile tests. In spite of UN Security Council resolutions and the increasingly tougher sanctions on Pyongyang, the country has continued to develop its banned weapons programmes. Foreign Minister Mikser said it was unacceptable for a party to flout its international obligations, jeopardizing everyone’s security. “The European Union must maintain a unitary policy with regard to North Korea and, if necessary, toughen sanctions as well to shut down North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. We need a solution that results in the closure of the banned programmes and making the Korean peninsula a nuclear-free zone,“ said Mikser.
The meeting also dealt with the Middle East peace process and issues related to illegal migration.
Mikser introduced the new web interface, EU Sanctions Map, to his colleagues. Developed by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the interface gives up-to-date information on the EU’s sanctions and will become publicly accessible in late September. Currently, the EU applies close to 40 sanctions regimes established by the UN Security Council or the Council of the EU. This makes it crucial for the public to understand what obligations the sanctions entail for the private and public sector in the EU.
Topics to be discussed tomorrow, during the second day of the meeting, include the Foreign Affairs Council’s working methods and, jointly with foreign ministers from candidates for EU membership, combating and preventing radicalisation and violent extremism.
The Gymnich meeting will be immediately followed by a joint lunch attended by foreign ministers from the EU Member States and Eastern Partnership countries at the invitation of the Estonian foreign minister. There, discussion will centre on practical steps for increasing resilience in cooperation between EU and Eastern Partnership countries, particularly through strengthening security cooperation.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs