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8 July: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

08 Jul 2022
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: Albanese meets with Zelenskyy in Kyiv and announces additional assistance for Ukraine, Ardern to travel to Australia for the second time in a month for ANZLM, Wong visits Singapore and Indonesia, diplomatic appointments, and more.

On 4 July, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited Kyiv, Ukraine, and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Following Zelenskyy’s request for further support, Albanese announced a new package of assistance to Ukraine, including A$99.5 million in military assistance, A$8.7 million to assist Ukraine’s Border Guard Service, the removal of tariffs on Ukrainian imports to Australia, targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on 16 additional Russian ministers and oligarchs, and a prohibition on imports of Russian gold. Albanese also announced that Australia “will intervene at the International Court of Justice in support of Ukraine in its case against Russia” and noted that “Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine in the defence of their homeland.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will travel to Sydney from 6 to 8 July to attend the annual Australia New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting (ANZLM) with Albanese. The visit will also include a meeting of the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF), which is being held for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, and “provides business and government leaders a valuable opportunity to meet.” Albanese stated that he is “delighted to welcome Prime Minister Ardern back to Australia, along with her delegation of government and business leaders.” He also noted that this bilateral meeting is the second in the past month, “which is a reflection of the closeness of our trans-Tasman relationship. It truly is one of family.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong travelled to Singapore and Indonesia this week. While in Singapore, she met with her Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan. In a joint press conference on 6 July, Wong noted that “Australia’s relationship with Singapore is one of our closest, and it is a relationship that is anchored in shared strategic interests and shared economic interests.” She further stated that “our relationship, of course, is more than official links … we trust each other. We like each other. We visit often. We study together.” Wong concluded by saying that “we see our future in this region. We see our security in this region. That is why we will bring deep engagement to our relationship with this region … We look forward to continuing to work with Singapore to that end.”

While in Singapore, Wong also addressed the International Institute for Strategic Studies on 6 July. She reflected on the diversity of the current Australian Government, noting that “at its core, foreign policy is an expression of national values, national interests and national identity. So it starts with who we are.” Wong reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to ASEAN centrality, including economic centrality, while also “draw[ing] out a couple of contemporary challenges to ASEAN centrality”, namely the military coup in Myanmar and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She noted that “I am not the first foreign minister in Australia’s history to recognise the importance of our relationships with Southeast Asia. But I am the first to make these statements as an Australian foreign minister who is from Southeast Asia.”

In Indonesia, Wong will participate in the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali. Wong noted that the G20 is “the premier forum for international economic cooperation and governance” and “has a vital role in ensuring food and energy security – both [of which are] threatened by Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” She further “commend[ed] Indonesia for inviting Ukraine to participate as a guest.” Wong will also participate in the twenty-first meeting of Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, and Australia (MIKTA) Foreign Ministers, which “aims to play a bridging role between developing and developed countries on global issues including Ukraine, food security and migration management.”

On 30 June, Wong issued a statement on the two year anniversary of the imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. She noted Australia’s ongoing “deep concern” at the “continuing erosion of Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and autonomy” and “urge[d] the Chinese Government and Hong Kong authorities to uphold and protect those elements which have been so crucial to Hong Kong’s success, including its high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Sino-British Declaration, to which Beijing committed.”

Wong announced seven diplomatic appointments on 6 July: Berenice Owen-Jones is Australia’s next High Commissioner to Ghana; Katie Smith is the next Ambassador to Mongolia; Neil Hawkins is the next High Commissioner to Pakistan; Hae Kyong Yu is the next Ambassador to the Philippines; Paul Stephens is the next High Commissioner to Sri Lanka; Dr Angela Macdonald is the next Ambassador to Thailand; and Annelise Young is the next Consul-General in Noumea. All seven appointees are career officers with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

On 4 July, Wong met with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Australia. She noted that “Australia is a longstanding supporter of the IAEA’s mission to harness the peaceful use of nuclear technology in areas like medicine, industrial processes and environmental monitoring, as well as upholding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.” Wong further noted that they discussed Australia’s “approach for the acquisition of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines under AUKUS” as well as “the challenging international security environment” more broadly.

Isabella Keith is a weekly columnist for Australian Outlook. She is also an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Isabella’s research interests include international law and comparative constitutional law.

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