Intervention At The Inaugural Asean-plus Defence Ministers' Meeting

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12th October 2010, 09:06pm - Views: 726





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MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

STEPHEN SMITH, MP

Intervention at the Inaugural ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting

Hanoi, 12 October 2010


Mr Chairman, Secretary-General, Ministerial colleagues.

I thank the Government and people of Vietnam for hosting this inaugural Meeting and

congratulate the people of Hanoi on its 1000th anniversary.

ASEAN was established in 1967 to accelerate economic growth, social progress and

cultural development, and promote peace and stability in our region.

Australia has long supported ASEAN and its related forums.  

Australia has long supported the objectives of economic prosperity and peace and

stability in our region. 

Australia became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner in 1974, and we are very pleased to

have been invited, along with seven other ASEAN dialogue partners, to be an inaugural

member of the ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting.

The creation of the ASEAN-Plus Defence Minsters’ Meeting – which includes the

membership of the East Asia Summit and the United States and Russia – means the

region has taken a most significant step towards meeting its peace and security

challenges.

Mr Chairman, Australia believes that ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers should take the

broad view of what security means in the modern day.

This needs to include not just traditional security challenges, but new and emerging non-

traditional security challenges – like terrorism and disaster relief – which give rise to new

challenges for nations and regions alike. 



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Australia is committed to addressing all these security challenges, drawing upon all

elements of national power, in cooperation and partnership with our friends and

neighbours through this forum.

Maritime Security

The establishment of the ASEAN –Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting offers real

opportunities for practical cooperation. As a maritime nation, Australia is particularly

interested in the need and the potential for regional cooperation in maritime security.

For many of us here, our national security is closely linked to maritime security.  As well,

our national prosperity depends on the security and stability of the oceans, seas and

straits. 

Eight of Australia’s top ten trading partners sit around this table today.  All rely on

maritime trade for both national well-being and the collective stability of our region. 

As well, it is in our collective interest to look at ways through which we can cooperate

and coordinate in using our maritime resources to respond to the all-too-frequent

requirements of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.  Moving people and relief

supplies quickly in response to contingencies, such as Australia has recently done in

Pakistan, will continue to be a task critical to our region.

Just as, for example, will continue cooperation in countering piracy.

As well, in our region and beyond there are a range of unresolved territorial disputes,

including maritime disputes, whether in the South China Sea or elsewhere.  

Where these occur, Australia wants to see these issues resolved amicably and peacefully

between the parties concerned in accordance with international law, and in a way which

ensures regional stability. Regional diplomacy can often assist in such beneficial

outcomes.

Australia regards the proposed ASEAN Code of Conduct as a good starting point in this

respect.

Mr Chairman, this forum can contribute to greater practical maritime cooperation and

understanding, fostering a positive and constructive dialogue and finding solutions to

maritime challenges as they emerge.

This is why Australia has indicated its willingness to co-chair the Expert Working Group

on Maritime Security.

Counter-Terrorism

Mr Chairman, terrorism remains an issue of great concern to Australia and to our region. 

Over 100 Australians and many more from our region have been killed by terrorists in

attacks over the last decade. 



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We have made progress.  Great strides have been taken in our region to combat the threat

of terrorism.  For example, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore have

made great strides in combating the extremist Islamist group known as Jemaah Islamiyah. 

This has made the region a safer place for all of us.

But we cannot be complacent. As last year’s deadly attacks in Jakarta showed, terrorists

remain resilient and adaptable. Even small groups can inflict great harm. 

Earlier this year Australia released a Counter-Terrorism White Paper, setting out our

approach to combating terrorism, both domestically and internationally.  Regional

cooperation is critical to both the national and international community response. 

This forum has great potential to support our approach to countering terrorism.  The

sharing of information enables us to coordinate the protection of our citizens, building

links and relationships we can draw upon when preventing, or responding to attacks. 

Most importantly, this forum can be part of the vital work of building a flexible, resilient

and mutually-supportive regional community committed to peace, stability and tolerance.

Peacekeeping

Mr Chairman, Australia also highlights the opportunity to greatly increase our

cooperation in the field of peacekeeping. 

The nations around this table are increasingly contributing significantly to United Nations

peacekeeping operations around the world – Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia

and Korea all have troops committed to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon,

while India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and the US have committed troops to the

United Nations mission in Haiti.

As part of our broader support to the United Nations, Australia has a long-standing and

proud tradition of supporting peacekeeping operations where we are able. I cannot

foresee a lessening need to support the United Nations’ operations into the future.  In

recent times, Australia has also helped to build and facilitate peacekeeping capacity and

capability among nations in our own region.

The ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting presents a timely opportunity to share our

experiences and lessons in this field, to develop coordinated regional responses to

emerging crises and to explore how we can support each other as we contribute to these

important missions. 

In the last two years, Australia has worked closely with Malaysia in particular to help

build the region’s peacekeeping capacity – an effort we are committed to continuing.





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Concluding Remarks

Mr Chairman, the establishment of this most important regional institution provides an

opportunity to move our regional security cooperation beyond humanitarian assistance

and disaster relief. It allows us to cooperatively tackle the emerging peace, stability and

security challenges that will inevitably arise in the years to come.

The ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting has a critical role to play in that

cooperation.  Australia is both honoured and pleased to be a part of this historic meeting,

inaugurating this important peace and security forum.

Thank you. 








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