Vietnam - France Defence Cooperation Thriving

Strengthening defence ties between Vietnam and France benefits both countries in both short and long terms, according to Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang.
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Defense Minister Phan Van Giang receives French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery (L).
Defense Minister Phan Van Giang receives French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery (L). Photo: People's Army Newspaper

This would help to ensure sustainability of the bilateral strategic partnership, serving each country’s development, and contributing to peace, stability in the region and the world, Thang, Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Ministry of National Defence, said in an interview exclusively given to the People’s Army Newspaper.

In 1991, the Vietnam - France relations turned over a new leaf as France opened a defence attaché office in Vietnam. France was the first Western country to open such an office in the Southeast Asian country.

Pillar of Vietnam - France strategic partnership.

Over the past three decades, the two countries have strengthened their bilateral defence cooperation, which has become a pillar of the Vietnam - France strategic partnership.

In fact, Vietnam and France have a close relationship in history, culture, and society. Despite upheavals, the two countries’ relations have been consolidated and developed.

France is the first Western European country to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam right after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.

According to Daniel Schaeffer, a two-star general, advisor to the French Ministry of Armed Forces and the first French defence attaché to Vietnam, both Vietnam and France wished to normalize their diplomatic ties comprehensively. Therefore, they supported the establishment of defence attaché offices in each country.

The French general recalled that he visited Hanoi in May 1991 to make preparations for the opening of the office. On August 1, 1991, he, as a defence attaché, paid a courtesy call on the leader of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence and that day was proposed as the time to establish the bilateral defence cooperation.

During his four-year tenure, the French defence attaché was greatly supported by Vietnamese senior officers and learned more about Vietnam’s ceremonials and the organizational system of the Vietnam People’s Army.

In 1993, Vietnam opened its first defence attaché office in France. Since then, the bilateral defence ties have developed comprehensively in all spheres.

Senior Colonel Pham Manh Thang, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Ministry of National Defence and former Vietnamese defence attaché to France in the 2017-2020 tenure, said that he gave recommendations to higher levels to make orientation for the defence ties with France, acknowledge the two countries’ advantages and similarities to cooperate effectively, boost mutual understanding, and organize visits, including high-level visits by leaders of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence and French Ministry of Armed Forces.

Vietnam - France Defence Cooperation Thriving
Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Ministry of National Defence. Photo: VNA

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang emphasized that the basis of the Vietnam - France strategic partnership is the Communist Party of Vietnam’s righteous political policy, foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization and diversification of relations, harmonization of national interests and common interests of the region and the world, Vietnam’s geo-strategic position and international prestige, as well as the country’s policy of peace, justice, respect and observance of international law in settling historical issues, and conflicts and disputes over sovereignty and territory.

Sharing experience in UN peacekeeping operations

French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery also shared the view that the bilateral defence cooperation has been a pillar in the Vietnam-France relations.

He granted an interview to the People’s Army Newspaper on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral defence cooperation between Vietnam and France (August 1, 1991-2021).

The French diplomat underscored the effective maintenance of the cooperation in military medicine, further collaboration in teaching French language for Vietnamese officers, and opening of training courses for Vietnamese officers at French military schools since 2003.

Regarding the cooperation in UN peacekeeping operations, the French ambassador highly praised Vietnam for sending troops to UN missions to two African countries which are Francophonie members. He said that France has many years of experience in the field, so it could share with Vietnam.

He also mentioned an EU-sponsored project that Vietnam is carrying out and France actively gets engaged in. “In the framework of this project, France has dispatched a senior officer to work full time at the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations to help Vietnam deploy peacekeepers in Francophone area.”

Vietnam - France Defence Cooperation Thriving
French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warner. Photo: People's Army Newspaper

According to the French diplomat, the two countries will continue to maintain bilateral defence cooperation in traditional fields such as military medicine, hydrography, and UN peacekeeping operations. What should be also strengthened consists of defence industry, exchanges in strategic issues and environment, and French language training which is important to boosting bilateral cooperation in military medicine and UN peacekeeping operations.

Apart from development in bilateral defence ties, the French official also spoke highly of the economic cooperation amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Though the pandemic has presented many obstacles, it cannot be a barrier to economic cooperation between the two countries, he said, adding that the two countries have ceaselessly promoted all economic cooperation activities.

He highly appreciated the implementation of the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) because it has opened up more economic cooperation opportunities for the two countries. He also cited the then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s saying at the EVFTA signing ceremony that the agreement is like a large-scale, modern highway connecting the E.U. and Vietnam. It means that the agreement will benefit parties and help them stay closer to each other.

He also noted that France is willing to complete the signed projects, especially Hanoi metro line No.3, and boost trade relations between the two countries. The French diplomat also stressed that France has put forth a number of projects in energy, space, urban and airport planning, and especially pharmaceutical manufacturing. At present, many French pharmaceutical companies have built factories and provided products for Vietnam market./.

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