I welcome the announcement of the visit to Australia by NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The NATO Secretary General will visit Australia from 13-15 June to discuss strengthening the strategic partnership between Australia and NATO and increasing practical cooperation between Australia and NATO on new and emerging security challenges.
Secretary-General Rasmussen’s visit follows the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) / International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Summit (NATO/ISAF Summit) in Chicago in May.
At the Chicago Summit, the international community reviewed transition and mapped the way forward in Afghanistan to the end of 2014. It is expected that by mid-2013 all of Afghanistan will have entered into transition, at which point, with all of Afghanistan’s population under Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) lead, ISAF’s role will shift from combat to support.
Uruzgan will formally commence transition in the middle of this year, and will likely have fully transitioned to ANSF responsibility over the subsequent 12 to 18 month period.
Secondly, the international community committed to continuing to fund, train and support the ANSF post-transition, to consolidate and build on the security gains of the transition strategy. Australia will contribute US$100 million annually for three years from 2015 as part of international efforts to help sustain and support the ANSF beyond the end of the transition process.
Australia has made clear that we expect to maintain a presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, through training, military advisers, capacity building and development assistance. Beyond 2014 we are also prepared, under the right mandate to make a Special Forces contribution for counter terrorism and to train the ANSF to conduct counter terrorism operations.
Thirdly, at the Chicago Summit, the international community committed to supporting Afghanistan’s development in the long-term. Australia’s longer-term commitment is underscored by the Comprehensive Long-Term Partnership with Afghanistan, signed at the Chicago Summit by the Prime Minister and President Karzai.
Australia and NATO have strong reasons to cooperate together beyond Afghanistan.
The challenges of cyber security, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation and maritime security are enduring and reach beyond both Australia and Europe’s immediate region.
At the Chicago Summit, Australia participated in a unique meeting of NATO and its partners which agreed to enhance political dialogue and practical cooperation.
At the NATO Summit in Lisbon in November 2010, NATO released a new Strategic Concept, which outlined NATO’s interests in broadening its role in global security, and identified new and fundamental security tasks required of NATO.
Australia welcomed NATO’s acknowledgement in its Strategic Concept of the importance of working with partners such as us. The Strategic Concept provides a solid basis for greater involvement of partners in NATO’s activities.
NATO-Australia working relations are already close, with Australia’s participation in a range of NATO working groups in areas such as military logistics, communications and information systems.
Australia also has substantial bilateral defence relationships with key NATO allies, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
NATO Secretary General Rasmussen will be accompanied on his visit by Australia’s Ambassador to NATO, Dr Brendan Nelson.
Mr Smith's Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392