The Ambassador revealed the upcoming arrival of French warship during a press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday. "This is unprecedented. This shows that the two countries have a similar vision and a common interest in order to strenghthen cooperation in defence," enthused Lortholary.
French Ambassador to Vietnam Bertrand Lortholary
He also lined out three reasons for the France’s special interest in regional security, albeit geographically unconnected.
First, France is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, therefore the country is responsible for the security and peace of the world, including this region. Second, parts of France’s territory are in the Pacific region, hence France also has naval forces deployed quite strongly in this area. Thirdly, France's economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region are growing. And in that context, France hopes to cooperate in security and defence with Vietnam.
Ambassador Bertrand Lortholary also revealed that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's recent visit to France opened a new direction in defense cooperation between the two countries. On the sidelines of the visit of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, two documents were signed between Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Defence Nguyen Chi Vinh and France’s Minister of Defence to announce the common vision on defense cooperation in the period 2018-2020 and revise the cooperation agreement in the field of hydrography, oceanography and maritime maps. "From now to the end of the year, there will be the signing of other cooperation agreements," said Lortholary.
Now defense cooperation between the two countries just stops at France helping Vietnam train military medical doctors and provide skill enhancement courses to soldiers participating in peacekeeping operations, added he. “Yet in the future, procurement of defense equipment will be a new direction to explore”,
"France's worldwide known military equipment has been used by different countries in the field for quality testing." The Ambassador said, in Southeast Asia, Singapore and Malaysia consider France a partner in providing key defense equipment.
Apart from national defense, France also prioritises promotion of economic cooperation with Vietnam. According to Ambassador Lortholary, despite the close historical ties, France’s economic presence in Vietnam is still limited. Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and France is about EUR6 billion. "France actually occupies only 1% of Vietnam's market, which is not commensurate with the good political relations between the two countries," he said.