Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media Release

17 September 2009

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to the European Communities, Belgium and Luxembourg, Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Special Representative to the World Health Organization

This afternoon I will recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of the Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson as Australia’s next Ambassador to the European Communities and Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg. 

He is expected to take up his appointment in Brussels in February 2010. Dr Nelson will replace Dr Alan Thomas who has been Ambassador since January 2007. 

Dr Nelson will be the Australian Government’s representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which is based in Brussels. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to protecting the security of member countries. It also provides a forum for members to consult on security issues of common concern and consider joint actions in addressing them. NATO-led forces are currently helping to bring stability to Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur.

Dr Nelson will also be Australia’s Special Representative to the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva. With his deep understanding of health issues, Dr Nelson is well placed to take forward Australia’s engagement with the WHO which provides leadership on global health matters, shapes the health research agenda and sets international standards in health.

Dr Nelson will also work with Australia’s Ambassador to Vienna to take forward Australia’s engagement with the Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE is a regional security organisation, made up of 56 member states from Europe, North America and Asia, that works in support of arms control, counter-terrorism, conflict prevention and resolution and post-conflict resolution.

Australia and the European Union (EU) enjoy a constructive and substantial bilateral relationship built on shared commitments to freedom and democratic values and a like-minded approach to a broad range of international issues.

These commitments are reflected in the Australia-European Union Partnership Framework which I launched with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Paris in October 2008.

Australia and the EU co-operate closely to combat terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons, respond to the challenges of climate change and the global financial crisis and promote peace, sustainable development, good governance and human rights.

The 27 members of the EU as a bloc constitute Australia’s largest trade and investment partner. Australia and the EU cooperate increasingly closely in the Asia-Pacific region, including to enhance security, stability and good governance, and to improve the coordination of development cooperation assistance among donors to the region.

Australia enjoys positive and constructive relations with Belgium and Luxembourg. The Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU) is Australia’s 11th largest investor with total inward investment valued at A$19.5 billion at December 2008. The BLEU is the fifth largest EU investor in Australia. Two-way trade between Australia and the BLEU is also substantial, reaching A$3.68 billion in 2008.

Dr Nelson has served in the Australian Parliament as the Member for Bradfield since March 1996 and was the Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party from November 2007 until September 2008.

He was Australian Minister for Defence from January 2006 until November 2007, Minister for Education, Science and Training from November 2001 until January 2006, and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence from December 2000 until November 2001.

A general practitioner by training and a graduate of Flinders University in South Australia, Dr Nelson served as President of the Australian Medical Association from 1993 to 1995.


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