These informal meetings take place bi-annually and are hosted by the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting took place at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. It was hosted by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and chaired by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell. The Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, and the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), David McAllister, also participated.
The meeting was an opportunity for EU foreign ministers to discuss foreign and security policy issues of strategic importance to the Union in an informal setting.
The informal meeting began with a working session on Belarus on Thursday 27 August. Ministers discussed the latest developments in the country and possible reactions by the EU.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement on 26 August on developments in Belarus:
With the daily rise in crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators, the leadership in Minsk is increasingly isolating itself from the international community. These courageous citizens have taken to their country’s streets to protest against election fraud and to defend their right anchored in law to freedom and democratic participation.
They are demanding no more but also no less than an open dialogue with their own government.
It is completely unacceptable that members of the Coordination Council have been arrested, interrogated and intimidated. The Coordination Council has repeatedly made clear that its goal is to help find a peaceful solution to the current crisis on the basis of the existing constitution and taking into account the close relations between Belarus and Russia, also between the civil societies of the two countries.
Mr Lukashenko will have no choice but to recognise the reality on his country’s streets and in the minds of his fellow citizens.
In the coming days in Berlin, the EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the EU’sfurther responses to the situation in Belarus. We will not fail to react to grave human rights violations or breaches of basic democratic principles.
Ministers then held a comprehensive debate on EU-Turkey relations, including with reference to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader region.
The second day of the meeting, Friday 28 August, began with a working session on EU-Russia relations and ended with a working lunch on the geopolitical impact of Covid-19 and the EU's strategic response.
Informal meetings of EU foreign ministers cannot take formal decisions. Therefore, no legal acts or Council conclusions were expected to be adopted at this meeting.
On 27 August, before the official start of the Gymnich meeting, the German Presidency of the Council of the EU hosted a working lunch between the EU foreign ministers and the Foreign Minister of the State of Israel, Gabi Ashkenazi. Topics included the Middle East Peace Process, the situation in the region and EU-Israel relations.