Last modified: 27 August 2021 | 17:07
The Foundation for the National Interest (FNI) and the Griffith Asia Institute (GAI) conducted the first session of 2021 Philippines-Australia Dialogue, a four-day long series, last 26 August (Thursday). The Dialogue is a timely event celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Philippines-Australia bilateral relationship.
FNI Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. Jose Luis Alano AFP RET and GAI Director Dr. Caitlin Byrne shared their welcoming remarks to a good audience of 100 coming from various sectors of the Philippines and Australia, as well as individuals who are keen observers of the bilateral relations.
"Diplomatic relations, established in 1946, have been steady over past decades and, really, have relied on the strength of people-to-people links, sustained development cooperation, deep economic ties, and robust security cooperation," states Dr. Byrne in her opening remarks. Further, according to her, "it's time to elevate the bilateral relationship and work towards a strategic partnership in the near future".
The Keynote Address was delivered by Hon. Delfin N. Lorenzana, Secretary of the Department of National Defense. Secretary Lorenzana states that "Australia remains one of the Philippines' long and enduring defense partners" and that "It is the only other nation, apart from the United States, whom we have a status of force agreement".
FNI and GAI will be conducting a four-day dialogue interspersed throughout a four-week span (see schedule below). The first session of the Philippines-Australia Dialogue covered the subject matter of geopolitics and how the Philippines and Australia, united in their values, have a shared outlook of the prevailing security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region.
Session 1 featured De La Salle University-Manila International Studies Department Associate Professor Dr. Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby and GAI Deputy Director Dr. Ian Hall.
Dr. Willoughby stated that the Philippines and Australia can work together across five key areas: 1) rules-based international order vis-a-vis law enforcement, environmental and climate change policies; 2) humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations; 3) countering violent extremism; 4) cyber-security cooperation; and 5) better pandemic response and cooperation between the two countries.
Dr. Hall centered his discussion around how small and middle powers can shape the regional security architecture and how "it's not really about picking sides; it's not about cheering for the United States or China as if they're football or basketball teams; it's really about making decisions about the kind of regional order we want to see ourselves - collectively and individually". The Philippines and Australia, argues Dr. Hall, can channel this in the region.
Session 2 and Session 3 of the 2021 Philippines-Australia Dialogue is scheduled on 3 September and 9 September respectively.