Germany and Australia want to build up their relations into a strategic partnership. The two countries took a major step in this direction during Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s visit to Berlin on 28 January.
At the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on the 61st anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between Germany and Australia, Foreign Ministers Carr and Westerwelle signed the Berlin-Canberra Declaration of Intent on a Strategic Partnership. This broad-ranging declaration encompasses all key areas of relations between the two countries. From foreign and security policy to business and trade, from science and research to energy and climate protection to development cooperation, Germany and Australia want to work together even more closely in the future.
The Berlin-Canberra Declaration creates a framework for this collaboration. It stipulates, for example, that the Foreign Ministers of the two countries should in future meet at least once a year. Beyond this, the countries will establish a Strategic Steering Committee comprised of officials from the Australian Foreign Ministry and the German Foreign Office.
Gateway to the Asia-Pacific region
Foreign Minister Westerwelle praised the ever-growing “exchange and closeness, friendship and affinity” that have marked German-Australian diplomatic relations throughout the decades “despite the great geographical distance between us”. He cited Australia as a “firm anchor of values in an incredibly dynamic region that is on the rise” and a “strategic gateway to the Asia-Pacific region”. Minister Carr stressed the common values and interests that Germany and Australia share.
Close political cooperation
International examples of the two countries’ cooperation in security policy include their joint efforts on behalf of disarmament and non-proliferation as well as for the stabilization of Afghanistan, where German and Australian soldiers, civilian aid workers and diplomats work side by side to help bring the country a peaceful future. Australia is currently the lead coordinator on Afghanistan in the UN Security Council – a role it took over from Germany. Australia holds a non-permanent seat on the Council for 2013 and 2014, while Germany served on the Council in 2011-2012.