At the signing ceremony

Under the authority of the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnamese Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich and Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini signed the FPA on October 17 in Brussels, Belgium.

The signing of the FPA has marked an important milestone in the bilateral defense relations between the two sides, contributing to strengthening the Vietnam-EU Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA).

The newly signed FPA, which has showed a strong political commitment from both Vietnam and the EU, creates a firm basis for the two sides to sign specific cooperation agreements on defense and security.

For the Vietnamese side, it allows the country to participate in humanitarian crisis management activities based on the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law, of which the most important principle is the right to select areas and levels of engagement suitable for the partner’s external policies, demands, and capabilities.

Under this principle, the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense has sought to work with the EU in establishing a defense policy dialogue with the European External Action Service, personnel training, participating in the UN peacekeeping operations and surmounting war legacies.

For the EU side, the signing of the FPA will help the EU expand cooperation with Vietnam, which also facilitates its connection and engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Apart from Vietnam, the EU has also signed FPA with two other Asia-Pacific countries, the Republic of Korea, and Australia.

After the signing ceremony, Minister Lich had talks with Federica Mogherini. At the meeting, the two sides expressed their delight at the signing and underscored their resolve to boost bilateral defense relations and cooperation in order to promote mutual understanding. They also discussed the importance in supporting regional security architecture with ASEAN playing the central role.

The two head delegates also agreed to soon embark on cooperation areas that Vietnam has chosen to participate in, within the framework of FPA.

General Lich said the Vietnamese Defense Ministry strongly supports the EU’s aspiration to join the Asia-Pacific security mechanisms. For her part, Federica Mogherini said the EU believes that Vietnam will make more contributions in promoting regional peace, stability, and development when it takes the rotating Chair of ASEAN in 2020.

The two sides agreed to boost cooperation in tackling common security challenges, including non-traditional ones such as search and rescue, anti-piracy, and armed robbery targeting commercial ships, organized crime, and smuggling.

Ms. Federica Mogherini said, the EU and its member countries are concerned about the complicated situation in the East Sea (South China Sea) in recent times. Under this circumstance, the EU called on involved parties to strictly abide by international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), she added.

The senior EC official also affirmed that the EU supports ASEAN-China negotiations to sign a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in a transparent manner and without affecting interests of countries in the region and partner nations.

Vietnamese Defense Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich and Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

Earlier on the evening of October 16, Minister Lich had a meeting with the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee (CEUMC), General Claudio Graziano.

The two sides recognized the bilateral efforts in boosting defense cooperation, especially in the exchange of high-ranking defense delegations, personnel training, and UN peacekeeping operations. They agreed to further promote bilateral cooperation in the abovementioned fields.

Minister Lich suggested the EU continue supporting the Vietnamese side in English and French language training for Vietnamese military personnel. The Vietnamese Defense Minister reiterated that the Vietnamese side is ready and willing to receive officers from the EU and member countries to attend Vietnamese language and strategy research courses at Vietnam’s military schools.

He also added that the Vietnamese side is ready to welcome EU ships to pay friendly visits to Vietnamese seaports in accordance with Vietnam’s laws.

He asked General Claudio Graziano in his position as the head of CEUMC to create favorable conditions for Vietnam to boost defense cooperation with the EU in general and its member countries in particular.

Claudio Graziano expressed his hope that Vietnam will serve as a bridge to enhance relations, including defense ties between the EU and ASEAN as well as between the EU and bloc’s member countries.

Reported by Thu Trang from Brussels, Belgium

Translated by Thu Nguyen