Global Security as a Central Objective of the Bilateral Partnership
Security has remained the most significant objective in the mutual engagement between Australia and France. Although opposing nuclear policies became the source of major French–Australian tensions, security has now become the main subject of cooperation between the two states, framed in 2012 within a Strategic Partnership. In the post-Cold War context where Asia’s position is growing fast, Australian decision-makers have felt the need to focus their diplomacy in the region. The deepening of bilateral relations has been a key instrument of this impetus, with Australia’s neighbouring states, such as Indonesia and France. This agenda is shared by France, which has recently developed a more assertive foreign policy towards Asia and the Pacific. Australian and French agendas have converged into a genuine strategic alliance to find solutions to global threats, especially to terrorism. The French–Australian partnership has been manifested most recently through Australia’s submarine contract with France, Canberra’s biggest military contract ever. In order to shift from considering the other as a threat to considering it as a partner for security, Australian and French foreign policy-makers not only had to change their perceptions of national interests, but also their mutual understandings. It was first and foremost by understanding their respective perceptions of security and then accommodating their approaches that French and Australian foreign policy-makers were able to foster cooperation on this issue. Moreover, both countries have used the protection of Antarctica as a leverage to foster their security cooperation. Finally, since the 2010s, Australia and France have considerably deepened their collaboration and forged an extremely tight security partnership, binding their strategies for the next few decades.
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