Australia is a constitutional monarchy. Its head of state, Queen Elizabeth II., is represented by Governor General Peter John Cosgrove. The country shares close ties with Europe even though the main pillar of Australian foreign policy is the alliance with the USA (ANZUS treaty of 1951). Australian expertise in the pacific region is very valuable. A framework agreement between the EU and Australia is currently being negotiated. Abundant natural resources herald excellent prospects for the country.
Because of close cultural and geographic ties, cooperation between New Zealand and Australia has traditionally been close. Special attention is being paid to the Asian region and – on an international level – to multilateral engagement. Austria and New Zealand share an interest and successful cooperation in the field of disarmament. Its export oriented economy has led New Zealand to pursue bilateral and regional free trade agreements.
All Pacific island states are members of the group of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP countries). The most populous nation and hub of the region is Fiji, where a state of emergency is in effect since a coup d’état in 2006.
All Pacific island states are particularly affected by climate change. Climate protection and environment are therefore priorities in the region. The EU is the second largest donor of development aid for the Pacific behind Australia.
The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) was founded 40 years ago by seven heads of state/ government of the region. The number of participants rises annually, reflecting the increased strategic importance of the region.