The strong bond between Australia and NATO has been reinforced during NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to Australia from August 6 to 8.
The key point of the visit was to renew an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program agreement on HMAS Hobart in Sydney. The Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, described the agreement as a “reinforcement of our relationship”.
Mr Stoltenberg also visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra with Senator Reynolds and met the Secretary of Defence, Greg Moriarty, and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral David Johnston, at Russell Offices.
Senator Reynolds said the agreement with NATO indicated “we are working very closely together, but now we have new challenges we’re both facing and we need to work more closely”.
“We’re saying not only what we have been doing is important but, in light of our discussions, we are looking at new areas to work together in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
We have new challenges we’re both facing and we need to work more closely. – Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds
Mr Stoltenberg said the agreement “creates the framework for concrete cooperation”.
“Australia is a highly valued partner for the alliance and we are extremely grateful for the support you provide to different NATO missions and operations,” he said.
“To be on board this ship, the Hobart, and see the naval capabilities of your country, is something which is of great importance for me. I think it is also the best possible platform to sign the agreement.”
While Australia and NATO were far apart geographically, the agreement showed “we are the closest of partners”.
Mr Moriarty said he was pleased to meet the NATO Secretary General.
“It was a valuable opportunity to deepen engagement on shared strategic interests, including security issues in the Indo-Pacific region and our contribution to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan,” Mr Moriarty said.
Vice Admiral Johnston also highlighted the depth of the partnership with NATO.
“Defence is working alongside NATO to maintain the rules-based international order and address shared challenges such as crisis and conflict management,” he said.