Joint statement - Second France-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

Senator the Hon Penny Wong

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia

Ms Catherine Colonna

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France

Mr Sébastien Lecornu

Minister for the Armed Forces of France

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30 January 2023

1- The second Australia-France Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations reflected the shared commitment to restore a dynamic bilateral relationship founded on trust and shared interests, in line with the priorities agreed by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during their meeting on 1 July 2022.

2- The Ministers emphasised the importance of a strong Franco-Australian partnership to preserve the international order based on the rule of law and to work together to maintain an open, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law are respected.

3- Ministers reiterated their unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s illegal, immoral and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and called once more for Russia’s immediate withdrawal. They reaffirmed that Russia’s flagrant and repeated violations of the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Decalogue will elicit a united and firm response as long as they continue.

4- France and Australia expressed their shared commitment to Ukraine’s security and their strong resolve to continue to support Ukraine. Ministers announced their intent to provide support to Ukraine including through joint supply of 155-millimetre ammunition. The initiative leverages the complementarities of respective defence industries and meets Ukraine’s urgent need for 155-millimetre ammunition.

Cooperation in the Pacific

5- As Pacific nations, France and Australia are committed to supporting Pacific priorities, fostering regional security, stability and economic progress. The Ministers underlined the importance of continuing cooperation with Pacific Island countries, including through the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and other regional organisations such as the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in support of the goals of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

6- France and Australia agreed to continue to work together through existing regional architecture to address shared security challenges, delivering Pacific-led responses to security priorities, and to review developments through the Pacific Policy Dialogue.

7-The Ministers reiterated their commitment to regional dialogue. They reaffirmed their shared commitment to addressing the priorities of the Pacific in terms of climate change, sustainable development and maritime security, in close consultation with Pacific Island countries and consistent with the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. They welcomed France’s hosting of the 2023 South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting in New Caledonia. They commended the European Union’s contribution to addressing the region’s key needs regarding sustainable development.

Climate and biodiversity

8- The Ministers reaffirmed the urgency and priority of action on climate change. The Ministers agreed to work together to encourage G20 countries that have not yet done so to step up their commitments to put the world on a path compatible with global warming limited to 1.5 °C. The Ministers recognised the global need for climate finance and the role climate finance plays in supporting the transition to a net-zero, climate-resilient global economy. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to provide climate finance, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities, and recognised the need to improve the balance between mitigation and adaptation financing. 

9- France expressed its support for Australia’s candidacy to host COP31 in 2026 and welcomed the partnership with Pacific Island countries. France will actively contribute to the meeting’s success.

10- Aware of the importance of biodiversity protection globally and in the Pacific region particularly, France and Australia undertook to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and to increase their international biodiversity finance by 2025.

11- Australia welcomed France’s hosting of the next United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC) in 2025, co-organised by France and Costa Rica, to promote sustainable ocean management and inclusive international ocean governance, with particular attention to the specific circumstances of Small Island Developing States, including in the Pacific.

12- France and Australia called for the finalisation of an ambitious and legally binding agreement by 2024 to end plastic pollution, including through the High-Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution.

13- The Ministers welcomed the commitment of France and Australia to the Kiwa Initiative supporting projects in the Pacific region aimed at strengthening climate change resilience through nature-based solutions. The Ministers expressed their intention to strengthen the financial contribution of their respective countries to nature-based solutions, such as the Kiwa Initiative.

14- The Ministers welcomed discussions between Agence Française de Développement and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to strengthen joint action in the Pacific, particularly on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Infrastructure resilience and humanitarian aid in the event of disasters

15- The Ministers welcomed the 30th anniversary of the FRANZ trilateral cooperation mechanism between France, Australia and New Zealand for humanitarian assistance in the event of disasters. They reaffirmed their lasting commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the Pacific family if needed following disasters, and to improving regional disaster preparedness and response capabilities in partnership with Pacific Island countries.

16- The Ministers underlined the importance for Pacific Island countries of having effective warning mechanisms for disasters linked to climate change. The Ministers encouraged support to the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative which aims to develop early warning systems in vulnerable countries, notably by strengthening weather forecasting centres.

Maritime security

17- The Ministers agreed to continue their efforts and cooperation to support maritime security in the South Pacific to address threats linked to transnational crime, including illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and trafficking, particularly through the work of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group. The two countries will work together to strengthen information exchange bilaterally and within regional organisations.

Indo-Pacific region

18- The Ministers discussed opportunities to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and contribute to a regional order where countries can make their own sovereign choices. The Ministers commended the European Union’s commitment to implementing its cooperation strategy for the Indo-Pacific and its Strategic Compass.

19- France and Australia agreed to work together more closely in the Indian Ocean, in alignment with the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including on supply chain security, maritime security and safety, climate change, combatting IUU fishing and promoting the blue economy. Ministers agreed to enhance operational cooperation in the Indian Ocean. The Ministers welcomed India’s leading role in the region and reaffirmed their commitment to trilateral cooperation with India.

20- The Ministers commended the European Union’s commitment to contribute to the strengthening of maritime domain awareness capabilities in the Indo-Pacific and the fight against illegal activities at sea, in particular through the implementation of the CRIMARIO II project.

21- France and Australia reaffirmed their support for ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-led regional architecture in maintaining peace, stability, security, and prosperity. The Ministers expressed their support for the principles outlined in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), including openness, transparency, sovereignty, and international law. France and Australia expressed their desire to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN in line with the priorities identified by ASEAN (maritime cooperation, connectivity, UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and economic cooperation).

22- France and Australia recalled their deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Myanmar. They welcomed the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2669 and reiterated their call for an immediate cessation of violence across the country, for the release of all political prisoners, and full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. France and Australia reaffirmed their support for the efforts of ASEAN, reiterated their call for the swift and complete implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, and reaffirmed their support for the work of the ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar.

23- Ministers reiterated their strong opposition to any coercion or destabilising actions in the South China Sea, including the militarisation of disputed features. They underlined the importance of continuing to work together to support countries being able to exercise their rights and freedoms in the South China Sea, consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including the freedoms of navigation and overflight. They reaffirmed their intention to continue transits and deployments in the Indo-Pacific in accordance with international law.

24- Ministers underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion. They reaffirmed their shared opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo. They committed to working together to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the work of international organisations, where statehood is not a prerequisite, and reiterated their will to continue deepening relations with Taiwan in the economic, scientific, trade, technological and cultural fields.

25- Ministers reiterated their grave concerns about severe human rights violations in Xinjiang following the release of a report on the situation by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. They also expressed deep concerns regarding the continuing erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, rights and freedoms.

26- The Ministers recognised continued cooperation with China was essential on global issues of shared interest such as the fight against climate change, the protection of biodiversity, food security and debt reduction in the most vulnerable countries.

Bilateral cooperation

27- The Ministers welcomed progress in developing the bilateral roadmap based on the three pillars of defence and security, resilience and climate action, and education and culture, requested by leaders on 1 July 2022. They particularly welcomed opportunities to collaborate on: energy transition open to the Pacific and bringing together universities, research centres and companies; strategic studies, to share expertise on the Indo-Pacific; and cultural cooperation to stimulate artistic creation and exchange in both countries and in the Pacific. Ministers agreed to finalise the roadmap and present it to leaders as soon as possible.

28- The Ministers noted the importance of people-to-people links and exchanges between France and Australia, including among young people, allowing the two countries to enrich mutual understanding of each other’s cultures.

29- The Ministers agreed on the importance of progressing the repatriation of Australian First Nations human remains and sacred objects from French institutions to Australia. The Ministers also welcomed the proposal to digitise the historical d’Entrecasteaux exploration archives and to make them available to the general public.

30- France and Australia welcomed their stronger relations in the defence domain and discussed the practicalities of strengthening cooperation between their armed forces. The Ministers endorsed several concrete initiatives to step up bilateral strategic dialogue and intensify information-sharing to better support operational cooperation and strategic research partnerships between France and Australia.

31- France and Australia agreed to deepen operational and logistical cooperation to support their commitment to shared interests in the Indo-Pacific. The Ministers agreed their intent to enhance our armed forces’ mutual access to French and Australian defence infrastructure and step up joint exercising to strengthen interoperability in the Indo-Pacific. This work will be supported by an annual dialogue between Chiefs of Defence and a Regional Cooperation plan between the New Caledonian Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force.

32- The Ministers welcomed Australia’s increased involvement in the Croix du Sud multilateral exercise this April and Australia’s support for France’s first full participation in Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2023, following its participation as an observer member in 2021.

33- France and Australia agreed to enhance their industrial and defence cooperation as part of their respective strategic capacity-building. Ministers welcomed French industry representation at the 2023 Avalon Airshow.

34- The Ministers welcomed the signature of a declaration of intent between the two countries on military space cooperation, including in the areas of earth observation, space situational awareness and satellite communication military capabilities.

35- The Ministers agreed to foster civil space cooperation, including on Earth Observation, to support climate analysis and disaster resilience in the Indo-Pacific. They also agreed to cooperate within international forums to further promote an approach based on responsible behaviours in outer space.

36- The two countries highlighted the need to establish more reliable and sustainable critical mineral supply chains. They began in-depth discussions to better link their strategies and enhance cooperation in these areas.

37- The Ministers reiterated their support for concluding the Australia-European Union trade agreement negotiations as an opportunity to boost mutual trade and further strengthen the relationship between both partners. Given our mutual interest in enhancing further the contribution of trade agreements to sustainable development, it should include ambitious commitments on sustainable development and support action to combat climate change, protect the environment and labour rights.

International and regional security

38- France and Australia condemned in the strongest terms the death sentences and executions of participants in protests in Iran, which are in addition to the many other serious and unacceptable violations of fundamental rights and freedoms committed by the Iranian authorities.

39- Ministers reiterated their determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to find a diplomatic solution to this end. They agreed on the urgency of Iran ceasing its escalation, cooperating with the IAEA in good faith and complying with its nuclear commitments and obligations, including under its comprehensive safeguards agreement.

40- France and Australia reaffirmed the importance of stability and security in the Gulf region. The Ministers agreed to strengthen coordination to counter Iran’s destabilising activities in the Middle East, in particular its illegal transfers of missiles and drones in flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2231 (2015), as well as to non-state actors and in support of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

41- The Ministers strongly condemned North Korea's unprecedented series of illegal ballistic missile launches in 2022 and continued development of its illicit nuclear program. They called on North Korea to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs and their means of delivery in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

42- The Ministers highlighted the commitment of France and Australia to the ultimate objective of a world without nuclear weapons, based on a credible, progressive and realistic approach, taking into account the strategic context. In that respect, they reaffirmed the authority and primacy of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture for more than 50 years, and reiterated that any initiative must not undermine the NPT.  They also reiterated the importance for nuclear-weapon States to adopt and implement responsible approaches and practices, in particular transparency measures regarding their nuclear arsenals and doctrines.

43- The Ministers reaffirmed their deep commitment to implementing the highest standards of nuclear non-proliferation and their support to the universalization of international legal instruments, in particular the comprehensive safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol, which are the de facto international standard in verification. They reiterated their total confidence in the work of the IAEA and its Director General.

44- France and Australia condemned in the strongest terms the recent decisions by the Taliban to forbid women from working in non-governmental organisations; exclude women from universities; continue to exclude girls from secondary education; and impose other severe restrictions on women and girls exercising their fundamental freedoms and human rights in Afghanistan. France and Australia urged the Taliban to swiftly go back on their decisions and respect the political, economic, social and cultural rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

45- The Ministers reaffirmed their opposition to the use of coercive economic practices, which undermine rules-based international trade, and agreed to work together and with like-minded partners to respond to such practices. Ministers underlined the importance of an open, stable and prosperous, rules-based system, including having a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system by 2024.

46- The Ministers agreed to hold the next Australia-France 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations in 2024. The Ministers also agreed to establish a dialogue between senior Foreign Affairs and Defence ministry officials, to be held on an annual basis, to follow up on the 2+2 Ministerial Consultations.

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