The Hanoitimes - The EU and Vietnamese sides underscored the wider context for their deepening security partnership, including the shared challenge of cyber security and freedom of navigation.
The European Union (EU) and Vietnam last week discussed the development of a defense and security cooperation partnership during the visit of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.
The partnership comes in a broader context where Vietnam is looking to strengthen its ties with major powers and the EU is eying a stronger security role in the Asia-Pacific.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini in a visit to Vietnam on August 3-5. Photo: The Gioi Viet Nam
The steps were announced around what was officially characterized by the EU as a “defense and security cooperation partnership” following a meeting between Federica Mogherini and Vietnam’s Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich.
Under that banner, most of the headlines noted the conclusion of negotiations on framework participation agreement (FPA) that would facilitate greater Vietnamese involvement in crisis operations, Dr. Prashanth Parameswaran write to The Diplomat.
That agreement itself is quite significant as it gives the EU its first partner in Southeast Asia of this kind, providing yet another concrete example of how it is trying to translate the potential for defense collaboration into reality in the subregion.
As a more practical level, an FPA agreement opens the door for operationalizing EU-Vietnam security cooperation in areas such as peacekeeping and conflict management, he said.
They “have concluded negotiations of an agreement enabling Vietnam to participate in and contribute to European Union crisis management operations, which play a key role in peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security,” Federica Mogherini said in remarks at the meeting with Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi earlier this month.
Significantly, they also underscored the wider context for their deepening security partnership, including the shared challenge of cyber security and freedom of navigation – a point that Mogherini specifically referred to in her press conference with Minh in the wake of the recent tensions between Hanoi and Beijing in the South China Sea.
“Mr Minister, let me reassure you that the European Union fully shares your positions and your concerns when it comes to the situation and the increasing tensions in the South China Sea,” Mogherini emphasized.
“As the European Union, we always stand for the freedom of navigation and overflight, which is in the interest of all states.”
“We support transparency in and the rapid conclusion of negotiations for a legally binding code of conduct between China and ASEAN. You can count on the European Union to always defend not only the need to decrease tensions, but also and first of all, the need to have full respect for international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the high representative said.
Relations with Asia as a whole
In an interview with Nikkei Asia, Federica Mogherini said the EU’s partners in Asia are increasingly looking to the EU to be present and engaged on security matters in the region. What happens in the South China Sea matters to all of member states.
For such a reason, with five years as high representative, she have worked for the EU and Asia to cooperate more closely than ever through active engagement with the union’s partners in Asia and through concrete steps with individual countries in the region.
She expects the agreement in Vietnam’s participation in European military and civilian missions is the first of many with EU friends in ASEAN as the EU as a whole has decided to enhance its engagement on security issues in and with Asia.
Relations with ASEAN
“The ASEAN way is often very close to the European way, and ASEAN's outlook on the Indo-Pacific is no exception,” Mogherini said.
“The areas of cooperation set out by ASEAN -- maritime security, connectivity, the sustainable development goals, and economic cooperation -- are objectives that we as the EU share.”
And over the past year, the EU have built a strong foundation for what can now become even stronger cooperation -- with benefits for Europeans and Asians, Mogherini said, adding that she looks forward to discussing this further both with ASEAN foreign ministers and in the ASEAN Regional Forum.