Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel met his European counterparts at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday (6 March). The Council began with a joint session of the defence and foreign ministers on security and defence. Further topics on the agenda included the latest developments in the Western Balkans, relations between the EU and Egypt, and migration.
Joint session of the defence and foreign ministers
The Council opened with a joint session of the EU foreign and defence ministers on security and defence. The ministers also discussed the outlook for an enhanced joint European security policy that takes the needs of all partners in Europe into account and strengthens Europe as an actor. As recently as last week, and “in view of growing internal and external threats”, Foreign Minister Gabriel and his French counterpart Ayrault called for the EU’s role as a foreign policy actor to be strengthened and for a joint EU defence policy.
Germany in favour of strengthening EU security and defence policy
Following the joint session of the defence and foreign ministers, Gabriel said: “I think we have achieved a first major step towards a stronger joint European defence and security policy.” Germany will support and further the strengthening of Europe, also in foreign, security and defence policy, he added.
Talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister
EU‑Egyptian relations were also on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also attended the meeting, at which he and the EU Foreign Ministers discussed the political developments and economic reforms in Egypt, as well as the country’s role in the region.
Focus on the situation in the Western Balkans
The latest developments in the Balkans were also discussed. Tensions have recently increased in the region, posing a threat to the positive achievements of the past years. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, conducted in‑depth talks with the countries of the Western Balkans last week, and reported to the Foreign Ministers on these meetings.
Foreign Minister Gabriel has spoken by telephone with his Macedonian counterpart about the politically tense situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and underlined expectations with regard to a democratic solution.
Further topics included migration and the Middle East peace process
The EU Foreign Ministers also addressed the topic of migration. Their discussion included the question of how cooperation in a spirit of partnership along the migration routes can be expanded. Gabriel and his counterparts also discussed the state of play of the Middle East peace process.