2015 NATO Defence Ministers’ Meeting Concludes

Media Release – Friday, 26 June 2015

Over the past two days I have met with Defence Ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members and partner countries.

Australia and NATO are natural partners; our shared values mean we are prepared to take a stand to defend the peaceful global order, and the principles that underpin it.

Australia is the second largest non-NATO contributor, and the eighth largest overall, to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

Australia currently has around 400 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to Afghanistan as part of this NATO-led mission and has committed US$100 million each year over 2015-17 to support the sustainment of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

I had the opportunity to have a lengthy and fruitful discussion with the designate Afghan Minister for Defence, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai.

The commitment of the men and women who have served in Afghanistan has provided the Afghan people with the opportunity to determine their own future. 41 Australians have paid the ultimate price in helping to make Afghanistan a better place.

This is why Australia remains a committed to training and advising the Afghan security ministries and National Security Forces. Much has been achieved, but significant challenges remain. After more than a decade of shared service and sacrifice we cannot afford to lose momentum now.

During my visit I also met with the NATO Secretary General, Mr Jens Stoltenberg, and NATO Defence Ministers from the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Sweden.

In my discussions I affirmed Australia’s commitment to global stability.

Despite our geographical distance from Europe and the Middle East, recent events demonstrate that Australia is not immune from a range of threats and actions that emanate far from our shores. A safer world means a more safe and secure Australia.

Today, more than ever, multilateral cooperation between like-minded nations is required to address matters that challenge a stable global rules-based order.

The 2014 decision to grant Australia enhanced opportunities under the NATO Partnership Interoperability Initiative is the expression of our closeness and shared values. This initiative aims to promote practical cooperation between Australia and NATO in areas such as bilateral exchanges, secondments and exercises, building on Australia’s already strong partnership with NATO.