On behalf of the Vietnamese Government, General Ngo Xuan Lich, Politburo member and Minister of National Defence, and Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini on the EU side signed the Framework Participation Agreement (FPA) in Belgium’s capital of Brussels on October 17.
The signing of the FPA marked an important development milestone in the bilateral defence relations, contributing to enhancing and deepening the Vietnam-EU Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA).
The FPA serves as the foundation for the signing of specific cooperation agreements between the two sides.
It also paves the way for Vietnam to join humanitarian crisis management activities, based on fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law, of which the most important principle is the right to select areas and level of participation suitable with the respective partner’s external policies, demands and capability.
Based on that principle, the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence has chosen to work with the EU in establishing a defence policy dialogue with the European External Action Service, training, participating in the UN peacekeeping activities and addressing post-war consequences.
For the EU, the signing of the FPA will help promote cooperation with Vietnam, making it easier for the union to strengthen collaboration with the Asia-Pacific region.
Apart from Vietnam, the EU has signed the FPA with the Republic of Korea and Australia in the region.
After the signing ceremony, Minister Lich had a meeting with Federica Mogherini, during which the two sides affirmed their determination to boost the bilateral defence partnership to increase mutual understanding and support the regional security architecture with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) playing the central role.
Lich said the Vietnamese defence ministry supports the EU’s aspiration to join the Asia-Pacific security architectures, while Federica Mogherini said the EU believes that Vietnam will make more contributions to the maintenance of regional peace, stability and development as rotating Chair of ASEAN in 2020.
The two sides agreed to step up cooperation in coping with common security challenges, including non-traditional ones such as search and rescue, and combating piracy and armed robbery targeting ships, organised crime and trafficking, in accordance with international law.
Federica Mogherini said the EU and its member countries are concerned about the complicated situation in the East Sea in recent time.
The EU called on involved parties to comply with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The EU supports negotiations to reach a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in a transparent manner for the interests of countries in the region and partner nations, she said.
Earlier on October 16, Minister Lich held a meeting with Chairman of the European Union Military Committee (CEUMC), General Claudio Graziano.
The two sides recognised the bilateral efforts in promoting defence cooperation, especially in high-level military delegation exchanges, training, and joining the UN peacekeeping activities. They agreed to further enhance collaboration in the aforesaid fields.
Minister Lich proposed the EU continue supporting the Vietnamese defence ministry in training English and French for Vietnamese military personnel.
The ministry is willing to welcome officers from the EU and member countries to attend Vietnamese language and strategy research courses at Vietnam’s military academies, he said.
He added that the ministry welcomes the EU ships to pay friendly visits to Vietnamese seaports based on Vietnam’s legal regulations.
He asked General Claudio Graziano to use his position to create conditions for Vietnam to boost defence cooperation with the EU in general and its member countries in particular.
Minister Lich invited the CEUMC Chairman to visit Vietnam at an appropriate time.
Claudio Graziano voiced his hope that Vietnam will serve as a bridge to bolster cooperative relations, including defence ties, between the EU and ASEAN as well as the bloc’s member states.