2015 NATO DEFENCE MINISTERS’ MEETING

Media Release – Tuesday, 23 June 2015

This week I will attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels.

The meeting provides a forum for members to consult on security issues of common concern and consider joint actions to address them.

During my visit I will meet with Defence Ministers from NATO member and partner countries including the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine.

The opportunity to meet with my colleagues is timely, following yesterdays reports of a series of blasts in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul. These events are a reminder to the international community that there is an ongoing support role to play in this region.

The NATO-led mission continues to train and mentor the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as they face their first independent fighting season.

The progress and future of the Resolute Support Mission will be a major focus of the meeting, during which I will reaffirm Australia’s commitment to a stable and secure Afghanistan and our support to the ‘train, advise and assist’ Resolute Support Mission.

Australia has strong and continuing links with NATO and remains one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Currently, Australia makes a contribution of about 400 Australian Defence Force personnel and Defence civilians on operations in Afghanistan as part of Operation HIGHROAD.

It is expected that this visit will provide opportunities to discuss other current global security issues including the situation in Iraq and in Ukraine, as well as options for Australia’s future cooperation with NATO through the Enhanced Opportunities Partnership announced at the NATO Summit in September 2014.

The Enhanced Opportunities Partnership 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.