Statement by Foreign Minister Baerbock prior to departing for Australia and New Zealand

01.05.2024 - Press release

Ahead of her departure for Australia and New Zealand (1 May 2024), Foreign Minister Baerbock issued the following statement:

When storm clouds gather in world politics, it is good to be able to rely on close friends and to stand together. Because, that way, we can hold our ground better against the wind. With Australia and New Zealand, we are fortunate to have two close democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific with whom we share the same worldview.

Like us, they do not look the other way when others trample on international rules, but instead take responsibility. As supporters of Ukraine from the very beginning, they are committed to our European peace order. As Pacific powers, they are themselves exposed to and much more directly affected by the strong gusts of wind that China’s increasingly assertive stance is sending around the world.

If the international peace order comes under pressure on one side of the world, it will also crumble on the other side. Security in Europe depends among other things on security in the Indo-Pacific – and vice versa. In the rough waters of global politics, it is therefore all the more important that we stand together as democracies, in competition with authoritarian systems.

Australia and New Zealand have a lot of experience in dealing with an authoritarian neighbour with whom they trade intensively, but who is also becoming increasingly militarily, politically and economically assertive, whose foreign policy toolbox includes economic coercion and who puts our democracies to the test through espionage and by exerting influence in other ways.

This is another reason why we are working ever more closely with Australia on security policy. Like us, Australia is focused on reducing its economic dependencies. There is great joint potential in green hydrogen and raw materials; furthermore, the repatriation of indigenous cultural heritage objects is an expression of our long-standing friendship.

Today marks the beginning of a new economic era between New Zealand and Europe. Last night, the EU’s new free trade agreement with New Zealand came into force – with a greater focus on sustainability and an indigenous rights chapter. It is the new gold standard for free trade agreements. On the one hand, New Zealand is the gateway to the Pacific islands. But it is also looking far south – towards Antarctica. Here, we want to strengthen our scientific cooperation and also monitor the growing strategic risks.

It is in Europe’s best interest to further strengthen and deepen our friendships with Australia and New Zealand. Because in these turbulent times, we need our close partners around the globe more than ever – especially ‘down under’.


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