Finding “things in common” to build effective cooperative mechanisms

France plays an important role in the international arena and has strengths in different fields such as science-technology, education-training, medicine, culture, tourism and architecture. Therefore, the potential for the two countries to cooperate is huge. However, the most important thing is that the two sides have to find “things in common” and then build effective cooperative mechanisms to bring into full play each side’s strengths and strengthen bilateral cooperation in an effective and substantive manner and on par with their strategic partnership.

According to French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery and Senior Colonel Pham Manh Thang, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense (MND), the first-ever “thing in common” is to boost contact between senior leaders of the Vietnamese MND and the French Ministry of Armed Forces as well as working sessions at the expert-level.

In the context that the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging worldwide, the organization of bilateral meetings in person or via videoconference to discuss future cooperation between the two countries over the past time is a testament to the two sides’ political resolve to seek cooperation opportunities in the new situation. Specifically, on May 24, 2021, Vietnamese Defense Minister Phan Van Giang hosted French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery. Earlier, on May 5, the working group for Vietnam-France defense cooperation held a virtual meeting under the co-chair of Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Department of Foreign Relations, and Brigadier General Eric Peltier, Head of the South Bilateral Cooperation Department of the French Army.

The virtual meeting of the working group for Vietnam-France defense cooperation on May 5, 2021 defines many cooperation contents between the two countries in the coming time.

Apart from enhancing cooperation in traditional fields, including military medicine, hydrography, U.N. peacekeeping operations in line with signed and valid agreements, the visits of French warships and aircraft squadrons to Vietnam, as Ambassador Nicolas Warnery stressed, will be a good chance for the two militaries to exchange experience.

According to the French diplomat, France will hold more French language classes for Vietnamese officers, especially those for military medical and peacekeeping forces. Moreover, the two countries will bolster their cooperation in defense industry, strategic issues and others. Attentively, a new area of cooperation which the French ambassador believes that the two countries will succeed in is environment.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Marc Razafindranaly, French defense attaché to Vietnam, said that in the context of the rapidly-changing world and appearance of many new uncertainties such as conflicts of interests between countries, cyber wars, non-traditional security threats (pandemics, natural disasters), the two countries should strengthen their cooperation in defense industry to raise Vietnam’s capabilities on a very large scale: defense in the space and also in the cyber space.

Human resource – Decisive factor to success

According to Senior Colonel Pham Manh Thang, in order to develop the bilateral defense ties to meet the two countries’ senior leaders’ desire, first of all, Vietnam needs to improve its staff’s capacity and professional competence.

“We need to develop a plan to train and foster the staff on the basis of accurately assessing the real situation, requirements and nature of the job and their strengths and weaknesses as well as abilities to work out suitable and practical training programs,” Thang said.

He added that based on personnel training plans, the Vietnamese MND will task officers with studying suitable subjects in France, which are France’s strengths. To do that, Vietnam could effectively take advantage of France’s strengths to train a contingent of personnel with high professional qualifications to meet the increasing requirements of the military.

As a permanent member of the U.N Security Council, France has an important position in the international arena. It also has advanced military science and many strengths that Vietnam could cooperate.

Enhancing the bilateral defense ties benefits both Vietnam and France in both short- and long-terms. This is one of the important factors to ensure the sustainability of their strategic partnership, serving each country’s development, and contributing to peace, stability in the region and the world.

* Daniel Schaeffer, a two-star general and the first French defense attaché to Vietnam in the 1991-1995 tenure: “It has been 30 years since the two countries established their defense ties. In my opinion, the ties will continue to develop fruitfully. I am optimistic about that thanks to the enthusiasm of my successors. I believe that the bilateral defense ties will be consolidated and further develop in the future.”

* Major General Hoang Kim Phung, Director of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations (VNDPKO): “U.N. peacekeeping is one of the long-term cooperation fields between France and Vietnam. The VNDPKO is willing to boost cooperation with France in training, sharing of experience and knowledge, and improvement of the capacity of forces to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations, especially the training for military engineers to be sent to U.N. peacekeeping missions in the coming time.

* Assoc. Prof., Dr., Major General Pham Nguyen Son, Deputy Director of Military Central Hospital 108: “Military medicine is a traditional cooperation field between France and Vietnam and this cooperation will be strengthened in the near future. We want the French side to open more courses on medical expertise and the French language for Vietnamese officers, so that more military doctors could study in France.”

Translated by Mai Huong