This week I had the pleasure of taking part in the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s German-Australian Symposium held here in Berlin. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) is the political foundation affiliated with Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and has nearly 80 offices around the world. Though the Foundation has run a variety of events promoting German-Australian relations in the past, this is the first time that they have held a German Australian Symposium.
The event brought together leaders from business, academia, government and media from both our countries to discuss what a 21st century relationship between Australia and Germany should look like.
We were very fortunate to have the participation of Professor Dr Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Co-Chair of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group. The Advisory Group was established by Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Abbott and is due to report to both leaders before the end of the year. Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who will soon visit Germany, is the Co-Chair of the Australian side. She spoke about how, in a globalised world, distance doesn’t matter. Despite our geography we have many common interests and shared values.
I spoke about the warm and friendly relationship that our two countries share, noting that, despite the good will on both sides, there is much more that the world’s 4th and 12th biggest economies can do together. The Symposium covered a diverse range of topics. Not only were the big global issues of national security discussed, we also got the chance to see where we can learn from each other in areas such as research, immigration and ways to we can cooperate in the Asia Pacific region. There was also detailed discussion about ways to strengthen our trade and investment relationship.
I’d like to thank the Konrad Adenauer Foundation very warmly for hosting the event and also extend my thanks to those who took part. I was particularly impressed with the breadth of the discussion. At the event itself you could feel the warmth of our nations’ friendship. Still, as the Symposium highlighted, there is a lot more that we could do together. We need to be brave and make our relationship even stronger, warmer and deeper.