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Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 07:33 (GMT+7)
Issues on building foreign relations potential of the whole-people national defence in the new situation

Building foreign relations potential and military diplomatic arts are key contents that have been applied and made contributions to generating the overall strength to fight against the enemies in the struggle for national liberation in the past and the Homeland protection in peacetime. However, there are limitations in understanding and transforming them into theory in a thorough, comprehensive and unified manner. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake researches into these contents.

In our history of national construction and defence, our forefathers not only properly realized the importance of foreign affairs, but also carried out wisely, harmoniously and flexibly diplomatic policies, therefore maintaining friendship relations with neighboring countries, contributing to firmly protecting the Homeland, building a peaceful and prosperous country and providing the people with peaceful life.

After the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (September 2, 1945), foreign affairs were gradually formed and put into operation. In 1949 and 1950, activities on the diplomatic front of our country were conducted comprehensively on all three channels: the Party's diplomacy, the State's diplomacy and the people's diplomacy. Each had its own functions, tasks and modes of operation but supported each other in order to implement the Party's foreign policy and the goals of our revolutionary cause in each period. Although at first, these channels were not clearly defined and they overlapped each other, through the reality, functions, tasks, modes of operation of each channel were increasingly clear and effective. In the resistance wars against colonialism and imperialism, under the upright, creative and ingenious diplomatic guidelines by the Party, the military diplomacy merged with national diplomacy, successfully implementing the art of "fighting while negotiating” (attacking the enemy on the battlefield while fighting them at the negotiation table). At the same time, it took advantage of the huge human and material support and assistance, and the struggle for the righteousness from the peace-loving people around the world. It is the art of combining national power with the power of the times to win over the enemy. It can be said that in the cause of building and defending the country by our feudal dynasties as well as in the period of national liberation and Homeland defence, we have paid great attention to foreign affairs, planning and implementing the diplomatic policies with neighboring countries, proactively developing short and long-term diplomatic policies, attaching importance to building a contingent of cadres in charge of foreign affairs, especially talented and outstanding diplomats who could flexibly and accurately respond to the situation in negotiations. These have contributed to preventing and repelling the risk of war, changing the battlefield situation, ending wars, and restoring peace, such as: negotiations to sign the Geneva Agreement (in 1954), negotiations to sign the Paris Agreement (in 1973).

The proactive preparation of plans and human resources for conducting diplomatic struggles means we conducted the building of the country's foreign relations potential, creating the basis for combining diplomatic struggle with political and military struggles, promoting the comprehensive strength to defeat all invaders.

Although we have not had a comprehensive and thorough research into the building of the country's foreign relations potential during the wartime and the peacetime, but it is obvious that this content has been effectively implemented and mentioned in a number of documents, in different forms and dimensions. In general, the Party's awareness and thinking on foreign affairs and building foreign relations potential have been gradually developed, in accordance with the trends of the era and the situations of the country and the world and expressed consistently through its Congresses (from the VIII to the XI). The Party advocates combining economic development with national defence consolidation. Most recently, at the XII Congress, the Party pointed out: “Closely combining national defence and security with foreign affairs; strengthening international cooperation on national defence and security ...; having plans to opportunely prevent the risk of war and conflict.” The Resolution 28-NQ/TW by the Party Central Committee, the Decree 152/NĐ-CP and 02/NĐ-CP by the Government on the construction of defensive zones, and the Vietnam National Defence Strategy all mentioned the aspects of foreign affairs. Especially, the Section 5, Article 3 and Section 1, Article 10 of the Decree 21/2019/NĐ-CP, dated February 22, 2019 by the Government on the defensive zones mentioned the building external affairs potential. Meanwhile, according to the Section 2, Article 7 of the National Defense Law, defence diplomacy is one of the basic contents of building the whole-people national defence. However, the way of expressing it in the documents is not yet consistent. Some mentioned it as defence diplomacy while others referred to it as external affairs potential. It is also not synchronized and fully mentioned in legal documents.

At present, the world’s security and political situation is undergoing rapid and unpredictable changes. The strategic competition among major powers, terrorism, riots, separatism, and armed conflicts tend to increase. In particular, the dispute of sovereignty in the South China Sea and some major powers’ disrespect for the international law have posed many difficulties and challenges to foreign affairs, the building of the whole-people national defence and the Homeland protection. Therefore, building the foreign relations potential of the whole-people national defence is an urgent issue in order to improve the defensive capabilities, prevent and repel the dangers of war; in other words, this is the implementation of the strategy to protect the Fatherland by peaceful means. To do that, in the coming time, it is necessary to focus on several key solutions as follows.

1. Building strategic trust with partners and the international community. In the context of deep and broadened international integration, in order to maximize the support of international friends, mobilize external resources to build the potential of the whole-people national defence, including foreign relations potential, strengthen national defence and protect the Fatherland, attention should be paid to building strategic trust with other countries. Only with strategic trust could we manage to cooperate in depth on defence aspects and others.

To that end, it is important to renew the diplomatic thinking in accordance with the new thinking on the Fatherland protection and to be fully aware that the concept of national interests has been expanded and developed. Vietnam's national interests, in addition to the three core interests, namely: the territorial sovereignty, the political regime and the people, include ones that are in association with the interests of each partnering country. It means we should create the position and strength to protect the nation both at home and abroad, not only for the benefits of Vietnam but also for the interests and common goals of the regional partners and the world. Accordingly, it is necessary to thoroughly grasp and creatively concretize the orientation and implementation of activities on all three diplomatic channels and the military diplomacy, to strengthen propaganda and propagation about Vietnam's views and stance on international relations and to further affirm that Vietnam is “a friend, a reliable partner, and a responsible member of the international community.” At the same time, we should also prove by our practical activities, such as the participation in the United Nations peacekeeping forces, the regional and the world forums on defence and security in order to improve comprehensive position of the country and create a favorable environment for building the whole-people national defence in general, and the foreign relations potential in particular.

2. Building comprehensively strong diplomatic agencies and a contingent of cadres that are in charge of foreign affairs and especially defence diplomacy. This force provides strategic advice for the Party, the State, the Central Military Commission, and the Ministry of National Defence on foreign affairs and defence diplomacy and directly implements the task. Therefore, it is necessary to have clear and detail plans with targets and roadmaps for each stage and department. First of all, it is necessary to focus on building a politically, ideologically, and organizationally strong department of foreign relations, improve its advisory role for the Party, the State, the Central Military Commission, and the Ministry of National Defence to successfully implement foreign affairs; effectively manage, direct, and guide agencies and units engaging in foreign relations and defence diplomacy. Moreover, more attention should be paid to building a strong contingent of cadres in charge of foreign relations at home and abroad to meet the task requirements. Particularly, the staff directly engaging in international relations and foreign affairs should be "both politically strong and professional" with qualified foreign language skills, good understanding and flexible application of the Party's viewpoints and policies on foreign relations,, and capability to work well in the international environment and give correct and timely advice to the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense on major issues related to the national defence, security, and foreign affairs. Successfully implementing this content will make contribution to building high quality human resources for the Foreign Affairs in general and defence diplomacy in particular.

3. Attaching importance to conducting researches aiming at improving the quality of giving advice and planning policies on defence diplomacy. First of all, foreign relations and international relations agencies at strategic level should thoroughly grasp the Party's viewpoints and policies on foreign relations, focusing on improving the ability to forecast the strategic situations in terms of defence and security. They should also proactively study the strategic directions of countries, stay close to reality, detect moves and changes in regional and international security, politics, and defence, and give advice to the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence on planning and adjusting plans to handle issues. On that basis, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence will give advice to the Party and the State on planning defence diplomacy policies, and formulating appropriate and effective foreign relations strategy to meet both immediate and long-term requirements; on expanding the scope, contents, forms, and subjects of external relations, and on participating in both bilateral and multilateral mechanisms on defence diplomacy. At the same time, the staff engaging in defence diplomacy should give advice to the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of National Defense, the Party, and the State to perfect legal documents related to defence diplomacy and the construction of its potential in the whole-people defence. Besides, emphasis should be placed on improving the effectiveness of coordination between defence diplomacy and the three foreign relations channels, the external relations of the Ministry of Public Security and localities, building a solid foreign relations front, preventing and repelling the risk of war, firmly maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for national construction and development.

These are initial studies aiming at improving the effectiveness of foreign relations in general, defence diplomacy and the accumulation of foreign relations potential of the whole-people national defence in particular, meeting requirements for building and defending the Fatherland in the new situation.

Col. Nguyen Duc Phu

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