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New development in international cooperation in defence of Viet Nam (*)
20/2/2014 21:31' Send Print
The First Meeting of ASEAN Ministers of National Defence. Picture: Viet Nam News Agency

1- In implementing the policy of expanding external activities, active and initiative international integration laid down by the 11th Party Congress, Viet Nam’s international cooperation in defence has recently made new developments which can be seen in following fundamental areas:

First, strongly representing own responsibility in international community, contributing to the building of faith, fostering cooperation in defense among nations in the region and across the world.

Our Party’s thought on international cooperation in defense represents a strong connection between national defense and resolution of emerging security issues in the region and the world; its also represents a new approach which considers regional and global security challenges as that of Viet Nam. With this spirit, in recent years, cooperation in defence between Viet Nam and other countries has widely expanded and deeply developed toward stability, lasting, equality, mutual respect and benefit. Viet Nam has made contribution in term of action, keen political and military thought for international community; participating in settlement of regional and the world security issues; playing a responsible role in multilateral defence and security organizations, forum and mechanism in the region; actively fostering national defence and security cooperation, and maintaining peaceful and stable environment in South East Asia and Asia-Pacific.

In reality, cooperation in defence in South East region is developing toward more close, practical and robust relation. Heading to successfully building ASEAN community in 2015, in recent years, ASEAN has constantly strengthened cooperation in three pivotal areas such as politics - security, economics and culture - society, at the same time expanding relationship with external partners and establishing regional unity so as to maintain the environment for peace, stability and development. Together with general integration, mechanism of cooperation in national defence and security has taken steps to formation and development, of which ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting (ADMM) held annually is the principle and guiding mechanism of cooperation in defence and military in ASEAN. Over 7 meetings, member countries and participating partners have conducted dialogues and exchanged viewpoints on national defence and security which foster common awareness of regional security challenges, transparency in national defence policy, and work out solutions to deal with challenges. In addition to dialogue and consultation, ADMM approved and carried out initiatives to promote cooperation in defence, including: 1- Establishing ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting Plus (ADMM+); 2- Using military resources in ASEAN for humanitarian support and natural diaster reduction; 3- Cooperation between defence units and social organizations in ASEAN in non-traditional security matter; 4- Cooperation of defence industry in ASEAN; 5- Establishing ASEAN network centre for peace keeping. Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries support dialogue and consultations for the settlement of disputes of sovereign rights in the East Sea via peaceful measures on the basis of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), strict implementation of Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and an early approval of Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

In ASEAN, Viet Nam has made concrete contribution for cooperation in defence such as exerting herself to foster and actualize the ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting Plus (ADMM+). At the ADMM 7 held at Brunei in May 2013, Viet Nam’s Defence Minister proposed an initiative in which ASEAN defence ministers would sign a commitment of non-using force first. The initiative to form an expert group of ADMM+ on humanitarian action on mines proposed by Viet Nam received consent at ADMM 7. Viet Nam Defence Minister also raised the matter of promoting cooperation in ensuring security and safety in the sea, preventing and administering conflict in the East Sea with four elements: first, enhancing navy cooperation in ASEAN; second, establishing hot lines between navy of member countries; third, enhancing the exchange of forces of ASEAN countries stationed at Spratly Islands, for immediate future between Vietnamese and Philippino forces, then the exchange will be expanded to other ASEAN member countries; fourth, armies of concerned countries should exert themselves in maintaining commitment to peace and stability in the East Sea, and ASEAN member countries which have disputes over sovereignty need consider an early signing of commitment of not using force first in dealing with disputes of sovereignty and matters arising in the sea.

At the opening ceremony of the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue held on 31st May 2013, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung addressed the Forum with an important message saying that strategic trust for a peaceful, cooperative and prosperous Asia-Pacific need be built and consolidated, and that strategic trust can only come true when international law is respected and complied, responsibility of nations, especially major countries should be heightened and effectiveness of implementing multilateral - security mechanism should be enhanced”. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung affirmed that Viet Nam’s policy of national defence is for self-defence and peace; Viet Nam does not ally in military to any other country and does not allow any foreign country to open and operate military base in the territory of Viet Nam; Viet Nam is not working with any country against any other country. This message illustrates strategic thought and high responsibility of Viet Nam before international community in maintaining peace, stability in the region and world. Also at the 12th Shangri-La dialogue, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that “Viet Nam has decided to participate in peace keeping operation held by the United Nations in engineering, army medical and military observation fields”. This is a result of long preparations based on our country’s concrete conditions as eight years ago, in 2005 Viet Nam informed the United Nations of her ongoing preparation and intention to participate in peace keeping force in bomb and mine detection and destruction, and army medical activities which is highly humanitarian in nature and suitable with Viet Nam ability. Viet Nam’s decision to participate in peace keeping of the United Nations not only represents a new thought, proactive spirit in international integration of our Party and State, responsibility of Viet Nam towards international community, but also manifests a new development in capacity and standard of Vietnamese army in international cooperation, and let the world better understand our Party and State’s national defence policies imbued with peace and self-defence nature which build mutual trust and understanding between Viet Nam and international community.

Second, intensifying high-level, grass root and people meetings relating to military aspect with other countries in the region and the world with the aim to expanding and strengthening national defence and security cooperation.

Implementing the guiding thought of our Party that “Closely coordinating external activities of the Party, State and people; foreign affairs, national defence and security; external politic, economic and cultural activities”(2), in recent years Vietnamese Defence Ministry has held a number of high-level meetings with ministries of defence of other countries in the region and the world. In addition to official meetings, “hot line” between Vietnamese Ministry of Defence and those of other countries in the region and some other countries in the world have been established. This reality indicates that only when strategic trust and the unity between countries are available then strategic military “hotline” can be established which in return helps enhancing strategic trust and transparency of national defence and security between partners. Hence, regional countries timely exchange information on normal military activities and unusual effect of traditional and non-traditional security so as to get better mutual understanding and joint resolution. It is considered a new development in international cooperation in defence of Viet Nam.

In our country’s border areas, our army, localities and people conduct joint patrol, economic and cultural exchanges with localities, border guards of bordering countries which helps maintain stability in national defence and security on land and sea border. Through politic, economic and military diplomatic activities at the State and people levels, and the enhancement of close relationship with regional countries, especially with ASEAN member countries, Viet Nam has eliminated a number of anti-revolutionary bases of reactionary overseas Vietnamese in foreign countries.

Thanks to the enhancement of relationship at various levels and in different forms, political and economic and military relationship between Viet Nam and other countries in the region and the world is furthered and expanded. Beside traditional partners, Viet Nam has new partners, some of which are upgraded to strategic, comprehensive and comprehensive strategic partners. These are favorable and advantageous conditions for maintaining politic, national defence and security stability and sustainable socio – economic development.

Third, multilateralizing and diversifying military cooperation with countries in the region and the world is to strengthen national defence and security capacity.

Reality showed that recent wars were characterized by high-tech weapons and arms. This striking feature poses a pressing demand for Viet Nam’s national defence and security to increase its military capacity to firmly protect the motherland of Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. Within the structure of military capacity, the capacity of military technique plays the most important role, especially in the context of high-tech war. This situation shows the increasing necessity of multilateralizing and diversifying military cooperation, particularly cooperation of military technique, with countries in the region and the world. The cooperation not only fosters mutual understanding and trust between Viet Nam and international community, but also makes our Party and State’s guidelines and policies better known to international friends and partners, particularly the principle of not using force or threatening to use force in international relations, resolving disagreement and conflict with other countries by peaceful means, and the cultural tradition of Vietnamese people which helps Viet Nam enjoy the concurrence and support of international community and significantly contribute to the maintenance of the stability of politic and security environment and implement strategy of national defence.

2- Recent experience indicates that international cooperation in defence in the coming years will witness a robust development in both region and the world. Hereunder are some issues deserving due attention so as to further international cooperation in defence.

First, participating in the implementation of initiatives proposed by ASEAN Ministers of Defence, such as establishing a program of exchange in defence between ASEAN countries; establishing a framework of logistic support among ASEAN countries; and forming expert group of ADMM+ on humanitarian program on mine. Cooperation in these issues will help forming a sharing and connected community.

Second, promoting military cooperation with traditional partners such as Russia, East Europe countries, China, India, Cuba etc. Developing deeply cooperation in training, research, production and equipment of some high-tech and new generation weapons and arms for the process of modernizing services and armies, and increasing the capacity of defending our sovereignty, independence and self-control in the process of international integration.

Third, step by step expanding and enhancing cooperation with countries having the top military science and technologies in the world. This is a very important issue in military cooperation in the coming years in order to expedite the modernization of our army, strengthening our defence capacity and maintain our military power necessary for self-defence.

Fourth, furthering international cooperation in training strategic, campaign and tactical military operational staff, and staff of military science-technology. Doing well this task will simultaneously achieve various goals, such as acquiring a military contingent capable in leadership, commanding combined-arms operations in war which uses high-tech and facilities; enhancing the capacity of mastering high-tech weapon and facilities production and use in both peace and wartime.

We can say that furthering international cooperation in national defence is an objective necessity in our process of proactive international integration. Achievements that Viet Nam attained in socio - economic developments and foreign affairs etc. at the same time create favorable conditions for development in international cooperation in national defence. In return, new development in international cooperation in defence will significantly contributes to heightening the position and prestige of Viet Nam in international arena, and bring about new necessary conditions for Viet Nam to better and effectively integrate into international community./.



(1) Document of the 11th National Congress of the Party, The Truth - National Political Publishing house, Ha Noi, 2011, p. 233

(2) Op.cit. p. 47

(*) Published in Communist Review No 853 (November 2013)

Colonel, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Hoang Ky LanDeputy Director of Institute for National Defence Strategy Ministry of National Defence