First informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Croatia

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05.03.2020.

High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell Fontelles (L) and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman (R) arrive at the Informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs ministers (Gymnich) at Luznica Castle near Zagreb on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Damir SENCAR / AFP)
Damir SENCAR / AFP

High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell Fontelles (L) and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman (R) arrive at the Informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs ministers (Gymnich) at Luznica Castle near Zagreb on March 5, 2020

The first informal meeting of European Foreign Affairs Ministers during Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU was held on Thursday in Luznica Castle, some 20 kilometres west of Zagreb, with the main topic of discussion being the migrant crisis and relations with Turkey and with Russia.

The meeting of foreign affairs ministers from the Member States of the European Union is also known as Gymnich. It received that name from the first meeting in that format held at Schloss Gymnich in Erftstadt, Germany in 1974.

"Today we will meet in a very narrow format, just the foreign ministers, to discuss the current situation and topics related to relations between the European Union and Russia and with Turkey, as well as the situation related to our current migrant crisis with refugees in Syria," Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said ahead of  the meeting.

"It will certainly be interesting. The EU has a responsibility as the leading organisation of countries in the world that respects human rights and international law."

Previously Gymnich meetings included candidates for membership to the EU, which is not the case this time and Grlic Radman revealed that that decision was made by the Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell, "so we can more efficiently discuss the most important topics."

Ahead of the meeting Borrell underscored that Europe in Syria is not a fighter but a humanitarian.

Borrell supported the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria after an escalation of the conflict has displaced another million people.

Dutch Minister Stef Blok also said that he hopes a zone like that will result in agreement within the UN Security Council.

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