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Summary: 5 September 2008, Brussels – Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, has invited his counterparts from the other 26 European Union Member States, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the relevant members of the European Commission members, to an informal meeting – Gymnich - in Avignon on 5 and 6 September.
The Friday afternoon working session (14.30-18.00) will be dedicated to a debate on the future of relations between the European Union and the United States, notably in terms of major international issues ranging from regional crises to global challenges.
Bernard Kouchner will hold a press conference with Javier Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero Waldner, on 5 September at 18.00.
During the Saturday morning working session (9.30 – 12.30), the ministers will examine the Georgian crisis, in the wake of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 1 September. More specifically, they will consider the European Union’s involvement in Georgia in terms of humanitarian aid, reconstruction and a political settlement. Against this backdrop, ministers will also raise relations between the European Union and Russia in view of the forthcoming EU-Russia Summit scheduled for 14 November 2008.
Javier Solana will present his ideas on the updating of the European Security Strategy at the end of the morning session.
The working lunch will be devoted to the Middle East Peace Process and the European Union's role in this region. The European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, and Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, will participate in this discussion, which will also be attended by Axel Poniatowski, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the French National Assembly.
The foreign ministers from the three candidate countries (Croatia, Turkey, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), will take part in some of the morning’s discussions.
The Presidency’s concluding press conference will be held at 14.30.
The Gymnich takes place once every six months and takes its name from the German castle in which the very first European Union foreign ministers' meeting was held in 1974 under the German Presidency. This informal meeting, inasmuch as it allows participants to engage in free and detailed exchange, does not produce conclusions but enables better preparation of European diplomatic positions over the months to come.