Press conference with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: Goodafternoon. I am delighted to welcome to Sydney, Australia, High RepresentativeFederica Mogherini from the EU. Federica and I have become close friends overthe years that we have been in our respective roles, but this is her firstofficial visit to Australia and we are delighted to have Federica and herdelegation here. We meet on so many occasions around the world, and we haveshared views and perspectives on many occasions. It has been a pleasure to havean in-depth and very thoughtful discussion with you today.

Australiaand the EU are natural partners. In fact, when Federica and I launched theEU-Australia Leadership Forum that last met in 2016 I said at the time that theEuropean Union is a global force for good, that the European Union is a beaconof peace and stability and prosperity. Its commitment to upholding theinternational rules-based order is something we greatly admire and appreciate.

Australiaand the EU are embarking upon a new phase in our relationship. We have signed aFramework Agreement that covers our political, economic, security, culturalinterests. That Agreement is currently being ratified by the AustralianParliament - I understand it has been through the European Parliament and isprogressing through ratification.

We have alsocommenced negotiations for a free trade agreement and Commissioner Malmström was here earlier to commence thosenegotiations. We have concluded our first round of negotiations in July whichhave proceeded very well and we both look forward to a successful negotiationand outcome to the free trade agreement negotiations.

We discusseda range of global and regional challenges and opportunities. Federica and Ihave both just been at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Singapore, and wehad a deeper discussion about the Indo-Pacific and Australia's deepappreciation for the EU's engagement in our part of the world and our desirethat we continue to remain engaged in economic and security issues in ourregion.

We alsodiscussed some of the other challenges, and there are certainly many, regardingour commitment to NATO, our discussions about Brexit, we discussed some of theareas where we work closely together in cyber, in counter-terrorism, indevelopment work, and in the security space around the world.

Federica,our discussions will continue over a working lunch. I hope you get anopportunity to see a little of Sydney, and I look forward to continuing to workclosely with you. I appreciate your deep commitment and passion and advocacyfor the rules-based order. We share so many common views and interests. I amdelighted that our relationship is deepening even further through thenegotiations for a free trade agreement, for our Leadership Forum and for ourFramework Agreement.


FEDERICA MOGHERINI: Thank you Julie. It is really a pleasure for me to be here inSydney. I thought it was impossible to find a better time to visit, maybe interms of season it is possible, but that is going to be a good excuse to comeback.

In terms ofpolitical relations between your country and our union, it couldn't be a bettermoment because as you said, we have intensified our cooperation in the lastcouple of years with the Leadership Forum, with the Framework Agreement, andmost recently with a very positive beginning with our negotiations for our freetrade agreement.

We in theEuropean Union see Australia geographically the farthest away partner we couldhave, but in terms of bilateral relations and in terms of our cooperationaround the world we could not find a closer partner and a partner that is trulyadmired.

This visitis to first of all pay back the many visits you've had in Brussels and also, asyou said, we meet so open and so regularly around the world, that it isimportant for us to come here to Australia to testimony to our deep commitmentto work even more closely together, especially in these times. We are friendsand partners who share exactly the same view of the world and ofmultilateralism importance, we see in Australia a key partner, not only in theIndo-Pacific that is a key region for us has a crucial importance, but also inthe work we continue to do for rules-based international order.

As you said,strengthening multilateralism tradingsystem is for us, in these times, particularly important, as well asstrengthening other international institutions as well, for us to maintainglobal stability. We see Australia as a crucial partner in this.

Let me alsowelcome you publically because today it was confirmed to me that Australia hasoffered deploy civilian expertise to the EU crisis-response and capacitybuilding missions. We will be working together in Iraq on a civilian mission toreform the security sector of the country. It is a practical cooperation, avery complete way to show how we work together not only for the benefit for ourcitizens but also for peace and prosperity and security in the world.

We willcontinue working together and even deepen our cooperation in particular in theIndo-Pacific region but also in a multilateral forum, in the trade negotiationsand in the trade system worldwide.

Let me thankyou Julie, as a friend, as a colleague, more as a friend then as a colleague,for an excellent cooperation you have managed to establish bilaterally but alsoon the regional and international arena when we are together.

JOURNALIST: Minister, are you able to expand on thediscussions in terms of the free trade agreement? Was there any discussionsabout the reduction in tariffs on Australian exporters, for example?

JULIE BISHOP: Neither Federica or I are the negotiatorsrepresenting our two sides - our Trade Minister and Cecilia Malmström are thetwo representatives and negotiations have only just begun. We spoke in moregeneral terms about our commitment to free trade and open markets, theimportance of Australia and the EU pursuing a free trade agreement at this timewhen there are elements of protectionism and economic nationalism arisingaround the world, and that we stand firmly in support of free and open tradeand markets as the key to economic prosperity in the EU and in Australia andour region. We discussed some aspects of it but certainly not in detail. I amdelighted by the commitment of the EU to pursue these negotiations. The firstround apparently went very well and there will be subsequent rounds and we lookforward to a successful conclusion.

JOURNALIST: Do you have a timeline for when the agreementwill be finalised?

JULIE BISHOP: The EU has a number of free tradenegotiations on the go at present, as does Australia, and so it will be aquestion of ensuring that our negotiators can find the time on their busyagendas – we both have very ambitious free trade agendas – but it is a priorityfor Australia. We certainly place great value on a Free Trade Agreement withthe EU and I know that Minister Ciobo is in regular contact with hiscounterpart to ensure our trade negotiators continue with their good work.

FEDERICA MOGHERINI: I can confirm that we didn't set up (inaudible) in terms oftimelines, we just started. We launched negotiations in June, we started thefirst round in July so the pace is quite intense. I can confirm what Juliementioned, we also assess first round of negotiations as very positive, as veryencouraging. So we have all the interest in pursuing fast. Obviously, a tradenegotiation is a complex one, but we are aiming at a very ambitious, a verypositive for both sides, trade agreement.

JOURNALIST: How significant is it to have EUrepresentatives such a key friend as you have been describing each other, cometo Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: I am delighted that Federica hasfound the time from her extraordinary schedule. She not only has her memberstates to visit, but she also represents the EU around the world in many amultilateral and regional forums. As often as I see Federica, she is probablytravelling even more than I manage so to have her make the time to come here toAustralia sends a very powerful message that Australia and the EU are likemindedpartners. We share a common view of so many issues and our commitment to therules-based order, our commitment to open and free trade, our commitment tostability and security in our respective regions, and our desire to engage andassist each other in our respective regions is paramount. Federica's visit hereis very important to us. We place great value on it and I deeply appreciate herpresence. There have been other EU representatives here throughout the yearwhich again underscores the value that we both place on this partnership.

FEDERICA MOGHERINI: For us, it is a way to make it clear and evident that,notwithstanding the geographical distance, we value enormously our partnershipwith Australia and, in particular, in this time of global uncertainty. Juliementioned some tendencies to protectionism. We believe that making a network ofpartnerships evident, also to the rest of the world, has a value in itself.Beyond our bilateral relationships that are excellent and bring benefit to ourcitizens, there is a global responsibility we share and we are exercising thisresponsibility together no matter how far, geographically, but so closepolitically and in our common engagements for the rest of the world.

JULIE BISHOP: Federica mentioned the announcementthat I made today on civilian involvement in the EU's mission on the securitysector in Iraq - this is another example of us working closely together underthe Australia Assist Program. We will be providing a civilian element to theEU's mission in Iraq. Again, we share a common vision of the outcome in Iraq.We want to see a peaceful, stable, democratic Iraq and the EU has a specificmission there are we have agreed to be part of it to bolster it, to support itand provide civilian assistance. Just another example of the EU and Australiaworking closely together to pursue a common outcome.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, on anothermatter, if you don't mind - a graphic video has been posted on social mediashowing police in Papua New Guinea beating up a small boy, or teenage boy, howsuccessful would you say the Australian Federal Police program in Papua NewGuinea is? Is the millions of dollars of Australian aid that is directed to thatevery year making a difference?

JULIE BISHOP: The success of our aid programand of our Australian Federal Police program should not and cannot be judged onone incident. I will be meeting with Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato today as amatter of fact. We saw Rimbink in Singapore and we met yesterday in Bali forthe Bali Process. I will raise this specific issue with him to get PNG'sperspective but of course it is important that Australia continues to supportPNG, they are our close neighbour. We have a particular responsibility tosupport PNG. The lead up to APEC, that they are holding in November, Australiahas agreed to provide security assistance, policing support and the AustralianFederal Police has a very close working relationship with the PNG police. Iwill find out the details of this incident but it does indicate that Australiashould continue to maintain a presence there, assisting, advising, supportingthe PNG police and the PNG Government.

JOURNALIST: So you're not aware of thelocation of the boy? Apparently he can't be located by-

JULIE BISHOP: I am not aware of the details. Thatis why I will raise it with the Foreign Minister when I see him today.

JOURNALIST: Minister, you just arrived backfrom Bali - what is the situation in Lombok, as you understand? In particular,what has your Indonesian counterpart had to say to you about the situation thatthey are facing?

JULIE BISHOP: I arrived in Bali on Sundayevening after we had seen each other in Singapore. I arrived in Bali on aGaruda flight from Surabaya that landed just after the earthquake hit inLombok. I was briefed at the time and continue to receive briefings over thenext couple of days. I spent most of yesterday with Foreign Minister RetnoMarsudi. The death toll is now at about 105 we believe. Hundreds have beeninjured and property damage is widespread, and this is damage to tourisminfrastructure but also domestic infrastructure. Properties, land, farms, thedevastation across Lombok is quite widespread. The Indonesian Government hasnot sought assistance from us but we will be prepared to consider any requeststhat they make, as would other friends and neighbours. We have consular staffin Lombok. We also sent a consular official to the Gili Islands and weunderstand that the evacuation from Gili from those who wanted to leave wasorderly and fine, but we still have consular officials in Lombok. We haveassisted, so far, about 150 or more Australians plus Canadians and NewZealanders - we are providing support to them as well. There are no reports ofAustralian causalities or serious injury. Our thoughts and sympathies are withthe people of Indonesia. This is the second serious earthquake on Lombok in aweek and we feel very sad about the loss of life and the damage has beenextraordinary. We have also adjusted our travel advice. We have advised thatAustralians seeking to travel to Lombok reconsider their need to travel toLombok. We haven't changed our advice for the rest of Indonesia but clearly theauthorities are facing real challenges, they are still looking for casualties,also the damage to hotels, restaurants and the like, is quite profound. So, forthe time being we are advising Australians to reconsider their need to travelto Lombok and that includes the Gili Islands.

JOURNALIST: Minister, do you know if thereare any Australians still stranded in Lombok?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that we have been incontact with Australians wishing to leave Lombok. The airport is stilloperating, the Lombok Airport is operating. Those on Gili can only be evacuatedby boat and the Indonesia Navy have sent a number of boats. We understand thatthose who wanted to be evacuated have been evacuated. There are Australians whohave been in contact with me directly to tell me that they are going to stay onGili until the end of their booked holiday but I understand that those who wantto leave are able to do so, subject to getting a commercial flight, but theairport in Lombok and in Denpasar are both fully operational.

JOURNALIST: The Australians who have alreadybooked holidays to Indonesia, what do you advise them to do now, should theycancel them?

JULIE BISHOP: My only concern is related toLombok - the rest of Indonesia has been unaffected by the earthquakes on Lombokso Australians should seek the advice of their travel agents and ensure thatthey have got travel insurance, make enquiries as to the accommodation toensure that things are still proceeding as usual. My advice is to reconsiderthe need to travel to Lombok at this particular time, for the time being and wewill certainly keep Australian travellers updated. I do also urge people toregister on so that at least we have some indication ofwho is in Indonesia and their whereabouts so that in the event of a naturaldisaster like earthquakes, and this is the second in a week and there have beenaftershocks, we can quickly identify who is in the country.

JOURNALIST: You do have supplies, that Iheard you mention yesterday, in Java and places like that, have theyautomatically been handed over or is it only if they ask for?

JULIE BISHOP: In relation to the prepositionedsupplies in Java, a request from Indonesian Red Cross was received, that theyneeded basic equipment like tents and water – and this is for everybody, notjust Indonesians – they needed support for those who were stranded or affectedby the earthquake. We released those prepositioned supplies in response to arequest from the Indonesian Red Cross. We still have more supplies if theyrequire them, that is what they are there for, that is why they areprepositioned in Java so we can supply them.

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