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ADF troops gain reciprocal access under Australia-France roadmap

Catherine Colonna and Penny Wong. Photo: Penny Wong - Senator for SA

Australian Defence Force troops will have reciprocal access to French military facilities and increased joint activities, according to a new Australia-France roadmap agreement announced by both countries.

Australian Defence Force troops will have reciprocal access to French military facilities and increased joint activities, according to a new Australia-France roadmap agreement announced by both countries.

The Australia-France roadmap was launched by French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong at Australian Parliament House in Canberra on 4 December.

The roadmap encompasses a number of practical cooperation agreements on defence, critical minerals, culture, heritage, space, and Antarctica.


“France is a power in the Pacific, it’s a power in Europe, and it’s a multilateral power, and this is a very important partnership to Australia. We have an enduring, contemporary and forward‑looking partnership, and we are united in addressing shared challenges, globally, but also in Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo‑Pacific,” said Minister Wong.

“When I was in Paris … the first discussion was at the UN General Assembly about the bilateral roadmap and arising out of President Macron’s and Prime Minister Albanese’s meeting (on 1 July 2022) where they agreed to take this forward.

“We are launching the roadmap today. It outlines new levels of cooperation to achieve outcomes under the pillars of defence and security, resilience and climate action, education and culture, and responding to the needs of our partners in the Pacific.”

Both countries have signed a bilateral agreement (letter of intent) between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Agence Française de Développement to enhance coordination and cooperation in the Pacific on development cooperation between agencies to more effectively meet the needs of Pacific partners.

They also reconfirmed the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award, the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and reconfirmed commitment to climate change resilience, energy transition, humanitarian assistance, the prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and action in the lead-up to UN Ocean Conference (UNOC3) in 2025.

“The Indo‑Pacific is a top priority for France. We are a nation of the Pacific. We are determined to step up, beef up our cooperation with partners in the region, including, of course, with the number one partner for us in the region, i.e. Australia,” said French Minister Colonna.

“We all serve an ambition in the Indian Ocean, including with India and Australia, in this trilateral summit, and we also talked about that today, and as far as Australia is concerned, we stand with our allies and partners, especially when they face unfriendly behaviours. For example, where they try to exercise, or do exercise their right to navigate freely. So allow me to wish, senator, a prompt recovery to the Australian Navy officer that was injured in recent incident, an incident that should not have happened.

“So today is, I believe, an important moment between our two countries. We are adopting this ambitious roadmap for profoundly renewed relationship and partnership between our two countries on the eve of the 80th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, which will come next year.

“We launched an Australia‑France Centre of Excellence for the Indo‑Pacific with three programs, and I want to name those programs: an Indo‑Pacific Studies Program focused on strategic research; capacity shared knowledge initiative dedicated to fostering research in such areas like climate change, environment and marine sciences; and a centre for energy transition, well, green transition, that will bring together both the academic world and companies to support research, training and help build correlations to deliver the best energy transition solutions for our countries and the region.

“We are also launching a partnership for climate and environmental resilience in the Pacific through the signing, and thank you ladies, a few minutes ago of a letter of intent between the Agence Francaise de Developpement, the AFD, and the DFAT.

“On defence … we do have already a very good operational cooperation between our armed forces and we will enhance this cooperation, this interoperability through a reciprocal access to military facilities, this is quite important, and through increased joint activities. And as we speak our two ministers for defence are discussing this very moment in New Caledonia during the sixth edition of the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ meeting that we are proud to host in Noumea.

“In addition to Defence and to the other points I mentioned, the roadmap encompasses a list of very practical cooperations on critical minerals, space and the Antarctica, we see competition increasing, and last but not least, we have decided to be much more ambitious in the field of culture and heritage.”

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