NATO cooperation with Australia

  • Last updated: 21 Feb. 2013 12:00

Over recent years, NATO has developed relations with a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. Australia is counted among these countries, which are referred to as “partners across the globe”. Building on dialogue and cooperation that has been developed since 2005, NATO and Australia signalled their commitment to strengthen cooperation in a joint political declaration in June 2012. This was followed up with the signature of an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme in February 2013.

Arrival Left to right: Julia Eileen Gillard (Prime Minister of Australia) shaking hands with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (October 2010).

The Strategic Concept adopted at the 2010 Lisbon Summit paved the way for a more flexible partnership policy offering all partners the same basis of cooperation and dialogue. The establishment of a single Partnership Cooperation Menu open to all NATO partners enabled Australia to access a wide range of cooperation activities with the Alliance and to formalise its relations with NATO through the development of an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme tailored to the country’s interests.

NATO and Australia have underlined their shared interest in forging a closer strategic partnership. Beyond cooperation on global challenges, the two sides also agree to work closely on crisis and conflict management, post-conflict situations, reconstruction and facilitating humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

  • Practical cooperation

    Australia is making a valuable and significant contribution to the NATO-led ISAF mission to stabilise Afghanistan. With some 1100 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed, Australia is one of the largest non-NATO contributors of troops to ISAF. As part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan, Australian personnel have provided security and deliver reconstruction and community-based projects. Additionally, Australia’s Special Operations Task Group has been operating in direct support of ISAF elements in Uruzgan province.

    In addition to its contribution to NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, Australia and NATO have also worked together on several projects. In 2010, Australia contributed to a NATO Trust Fund project designed to clear unexploded ordinances in Saloglu, Azerbaijan. Australia is also the leading contributor to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund, having pledged €150 million to the fund.

    The Australian navy is also currently cooperating with NATO’s Counter-Piracy Task Force to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia as part of Operation Ocean Shield.

  • Dialogue and consultation

    To support cooperation, Australia designated its Ambassador in Brussels as its representative to NATO.  It also appointed a defence attaché in Brussels and a military representative to NATO. NATO and Australia have also concluded an agreement on the protection of classified information.

    Cooperation is also underpinned by regular high-level political dialogue. In 2005, the then NATO Secretary General visited Australia. Then Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer addressed the North Atlantic Council in 2005 and 2006. Former Foreign Minister Stephen Smith met the NATO Secretary General several times and also subsequently in his capacity as Defence Minister.  He addressed the North Atlantic Council in December 2008.

    Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also participated in the NATO summit meeting in Bucharest in April 2008. As foreign minister, he visited NATO on several occasions, and addressed the North Atlantic Council in January 2012.  His successor as foreign minister, Bob Carr, had his first meeting with the Secretary General in April the same year.

    Current Prime Minister Julia Gillard made her first trip to NATO in October 2010 to discuss ISAF’s efforts in Afghanistan with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. She and Defence Minister Stephen Smith also participated in the November 2010 Lisbon Summit, and both were present at the Chicago Summit in May 2012.

    NATO’s Secretary General visited Australia in June 2012 to thank the country for its operational support and to discuss how to strengthen further the security partnership.