Doorstop Interview - Torrejon Air Base, Madrid

28 Jun 2022
Prime Minister
Nato Summit; Russian Invasion Of Ukraine; Pacific Islands Forum; Asia-Pacific 4; Manasseh Sogavare;

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's good to be here in Madrid for the NATO summit. This is an important meeting at a critical time for the world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has broken international law. What we know is that this brutal invasion is having real consequences for the people of Ukraine. And the people of Ukraine are inspiring the world with struggling to defend their national sovereignty, struggling against this brutal invasion. But this invasion is also having an impact on the world, and it's a reminder that even an island continent like Australia, across the other side of the world, has been impacted by this, with rising petrol prices and the difficult issues relating to the supply chains as a result of the disruption from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So over the next days I will have important meetings, including as a part of the AP4. The presence of Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Australia, who have all been invited to the summit, signifies that this is not just an issue for Europe, but there are also issues in our own region that need to be dealt with. And the Russian invasion of Ukraine, of course, came just after the arrangement was made of the special relationship between Russia and China. That reinforces the need for us to be engaged, and I'm very pleased to be here representing Australia at this NATO summit.

JOURNALIST: What message do you want to hear from the NATO members about China?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that I'm sure that the NATO members know that China is more forward leaning in our region. We've seen actions from China against Lithuania, for example. China has been prepared to make sanctions not just against Australia, but to be more aggressive in its stance in the world and it requires the world to move towards peace and security, but to do so in a way which says that we are prepared as democratic nations to ensure that when something happens, like the invasion of Ukraine, the world is prepared to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and provide practical and real support.

JOURNALIST: What's the importance of there being insistent and long term pressure on Russia over this given that Xi Jinping might think that if people relent, he can wait too.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is critical. We know that the invasion of Ukraine has been a strategic disaster for Vladimir Putin. He was expecting to march into Ukraine and for it to be all over well before now. But he underestimated the courage and the resilience of the Ukrainian people. He also underestimated what the impact would be on the world. What Vladimir Putin has done with this invasion is to unify NATO and to unify democratic nations against this action, and we know that Sweden and Finland are considering joining NATO. So what this invasion has done, far from weaken NATO, it’s actually strengthened it, and that's why this NATO summit comes at such a critical time.

JOURNALIST: Will you be joining the call from others to (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we're not members of NATO, but Australia regards a strong NATO as being absolutely critical. NATO has grown from its original composition up to 30 countries now. And the more countries that are involved, the stronger the message is of solidarity and unity against any aggression against any member countries.

JOURNALIST: PM I believe you spoke to Manasseh Sogavare in recent hours. What was the tone of that conversation? Did you reach out or did he reach out?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it was a very constructive discussion. I've had talks with the Pacific leaders, I received a congratulations from the Prime Minister, as I have from other Pacific leaders. We talked about the Pacific Islands Forum that will be coming up and the important agreement that has been made, led by the Fijian Prime Minister to make sure that the Pacific Islands Forum can remain united and strong. That's an important breakthrough and it was a very constructive discussion. We both look forward to having a meeting during the Pacific Islands forum one-on-one as well as participating in that conference and as well, Prime Minister Sogavare reconfirmed his position that Australia remains the security partner of choice, a statement that he made of course, to Foreign Minister Wong.

JOURNALIST: Jens Stoltenberg is saying that nations now have to be behind Ukraine for the long haul. Are you coming here with additional commitments from Australia to support Ukraine in a humanitarian sense? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Australia has already made substantial commitments. We are in fact the largest non-NATO contributor to the defence of Ukraine. We need to make sure that those commitments are realised. All of them haven't been delivered on the ground yet. We'll make sure that happens. And we will, of course, listen to any request which is made. It is important that the world don't tire of this. This is a struggle in which the Ukrainian people are showing incredible courage and resilience on what they deserve, what they deserve, and indeed the world needs to do is to make sure that the resilience of the world and the commitment is just as strong and long lasting as the Ukrainian people have shown themselves to hold. Thank you very much.