Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia

Logo of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU

Logo of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.de

02.09.2021 - Article

The focus of this month’s informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, a biannual event, is on Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Maas had just returned from a four-day trip to the region before heading to Slovenia for this meeting.

The main focus of this informal Gymnich meeting on 2-3 September in Kranj, Slovenia – an event traditionally hosted by the country holding the Presidency of the EU Council – is on Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Maas is to brief his EU colleagues on his impressions from the four-day tour of five countries (Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Qatar) from which he has just returned, and make proposals for a joint EU position.


The aim of the ministers’ discussions on the first day of the meeting is to formulate common medium- and long-term responses for the 27 EU member states to the developments in and around Afghanistan. A special focus is on regional stability and developing a consistent approach in dealings with the Taliban. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is due to report on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan at the start of the meeting via video link.

EU-Gulf country relations

The second day of the informal meeting will begin with a discussion of the EU’s strategic relations with the Gulf states. In this context, too, Germany supports broader EU engagement in the efforts to develop a regional security architecture, not least in light of the ongoing negotiations on the nuclear agreement with Iran. The states of the Gulf region, especially Qatar, also play an important role with regard to Afghanistan.

EU-China relations

This issue, too, will be discussed in Kranj. The EU foreign ministers will continue their strategic discussion on relations with China in the run-up to the informal European Council at which Heads of State and Government will gather in October. The sanctions recently imposed by China in retaliation for sanctions introduced by the EU for Chinese human rights violations have no substantive basis and have strained relations with China. One thing remains certain: core European values are non-negotiable – and yet there are many areas in which cooperation with China needs to be enhanced, for example climate protection.

The ministerial meeting will conclude with a working lunch with India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. This underscores India’s importance given the growing geostrategic significance of the entire Indo-Pacific region for the European Union as a community of shared values, an economic union and a trading bloc. More information on the Federal Government’s policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific, adopted in September 2020, can be found here.


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