Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to NATO headquarters on Friday (24 April 2015) for talks on issues of mutual interest, and on strengthening the NATO-Australia relationship. Calling Australia a natural partner for the Alliance, the Secretary General underscored that the current security environment has increased the need for increased dialogue and cooperation.
In a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the Secretary General and Allied ambassadors thanked Minister Bishop for Australia’s close cooperation with the Alliance, including its important participation in NATO led missions and operations. The Secretary General expressed deep appreciation for Australia’s support and sacrifice in Afghanistan over many years. Mr. Stoltenberg further welcomed Australia’s participation in Operation Ocean Shield, fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. The Secretary General also thanked Australia for its engagement in NATO exercises, Smart Defence projects, and science and technology cooperation.
The Secretary General and Minister Bishop discussed current security challenges, including Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, increased instability in the Middle East and North Africa, and the threat of returning foreign fighters. They agreed that NATO and Australia are stronger when they stand together to defend and promote international security.
Australia is one of five partners – alongside Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden –which the Alliance has identified as making particularly significant contributions to NATO operations. At the Wales Summit last year, NATO leaders agreed to deepen dialogue and practical cooperation with these key “Enhanced Opportunity” partners.
Leopold James De Rothschild