Saturday, September 21, 2019, 03:00 (GMT+7)

Sunday, February 10, 2019, 13:37 (GMT+7)
Basic guidelines on the work of defence diplomacy in 2019

In 2018, the defence diplomacy work was carried out amidst profound changes in the global and regional situation; the domestic situation was basically stable, but our country still faced a lot of difficulties and disadvantages which imposed higher requirements on this work. Clearly understanding that and grasping the Resolution of 12th National Party Congress and the Resolution 806-NQ/QUTW by the Central Military Commission (CMC) on defence international integration and diplomacy until 2020, the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) performed the work of defence diplomacy in a comprehensive, focalized manner. We effectively implemented the diplomatic guidelines of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development, diversifying and multilateralizing our foreign relations, stepping up international integration in a new way of thinking via proper and breakthrough measures. At the same time, we elaborated the Party’s diplomatic guidelines set in Vietnam’s National Defence Strategy, National Border Protection Strategy and other ones, focusing on formulating the plan to implement the Strategy for defence international integration until 2020 with a vision until 2030, ensuring that defence relations really act as a mainstay of our foreign relations and closely connect with and facilitate international integration and diplomacy in other fields in order to implement the strategy for protecting the Homeland from afar by peaceful means.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh chairs the conference on reviewing the work of defence diplomacy in 2018 (photo: qdnd.vn)

It is worth noting that military diplomatic offices advised leaders of the Ministry of National Defence (MND) on holding many ministerial and deputy minister-level meetings with other countries and attending global and regional defence and security forums. On those international forums, we proposed many initiatives of great value which were highly appreciated by other countries. The MND’s offices actively built programs/plans and cooperated with other countries’ Militaries in successfully organizing “Vietnam-China border defence friendship exchange program” and “friendship border exchange programs” between Vietnam, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, providing medical examination and treatment for the people from the two sides along the borders, and holding disaster mitigation combined exercises, thereby cementing the friendship between Vietnam’s Border Guard Force, Navy, local military offices and authorities and other countries’ relevant forces, authorities and peoples. Those activities not only helped consolidate the solidarity, trust, peace and friendship between Vietnam and other countries, but also contributed to settling difficulties and differences in defence relations and other fields.

Besides, the VPA promoted its core role in joining the UN peacekeeping operations and achieved the encouraging results. It should be noted that in 2018, we deployed two more officers (one female officer) to the UN Peacekeeping Missions and the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1 to South Sudan, and organized specialist training courses for military officers and staff members of several countries under the UN Peacekeeping program. The VPA’s staff members and units taking part in the UN peacekeeping operations successfully fulfil their task and were highly appreciated by the UN, the host countries and their locals. Those achievements significantly proved the guideline: Vietnam is a friend, reliable partner, and responsible member of the international community, while making the international community more understand, trust and support our country’s Homeland protection cause.

Besides, the defence diplomacy work contributed to overcoming the war consequences and boosting the socio-economic development. We actively cooperated with functional offices of Laos and Cambodia in searching, collecting and repatriating sets of remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts fallen on international mission. We completed the dioxin detoxification Project at Da Nang airport and handed over 13.7 hectares of clean land to the Ministry of Transport, continued to implement the dioxin detoxification Project at Bien Hoa airport and other projects on mine, bomb and explosive remnant clearance in various regions and areas, ensuring safety and practically facilitating the socio-economic development. Thanks to defence diplomacy, on the one hand we made the international community more understand that Vietnam’s policy on defence diplomacy is aimed at transparency, openness, peace and stability in the region and the world, raising the status of our country and the VPA in the international arena. On the other, we took advantage of resources from other countries with advanced military science and technology to build a revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern VPA.

In 2019, the diplomacy work in general, the defence diplomacy work in particular will have many advantages especially when our country’s political, economic, defence and security position and strength are rather strong and stable. However, we will be confronted with a lot of difficulties and challenges. The diplomatic environment will be complex and unpredictable due to the strategic adjustments and competition between major powers, which will potentially lead to the risk of instability; dispute over sea and island sovereignty will continue to be complex and unpredictable; mechanisms for controlling differences and crises have yet to be effective; the role of institutions tends to be undermined; supremacy and extremist nationalism tend to increase. All of which set the defence diplomacy work the extremely onerous tasks and necessitate us continuing to enhance the effectiveness of this work in order to achieve the goals of “defending the national independence, sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity, maintaining peace and stability for the country’s development; ensuring national security and social order; expanding and deepening foreign relations; taking advantage of opportunities, solving challenges, effectively integrating into the world in the new condition, continuing to raise the status and prestige of the country in the international arena”. Accordingly, the VPA’s offices and units should concentrate on the main measures as follows.

First, continuing to grasp the Party’s diplomatic and military-defence guidelines and the CMC’s Resolution 806-NQ/QUTW on defence international integration and diplomacy until 2020 and beyond. Accordingly, it is necessary to comprehend the position, importance, goals, and requirements of defence diplomacy work in the new situation; to strengthen all-level party committees and commands’ leadership and direction as well as competent offices’ management and operation; to continue renewing the way of thinking and creating breakthroughs in the process. The VPA should step up the Project on defence international integration until 2020 with a vision until 2030 under the stated plan and road map. In the context of complex international relations with the intertwining of objects of struggle and partners, it is vital to be consistent in the guideline on both cooperation and struggle, remain steadfast in the strategic goals and principles, and at the same time flexibly employ the strategies under the motto of “remaining unchangeable against the changeable” in the work of defence diplomacy.

Second, actively advising the Party and State on guidelines, strategies and master plans on defence diplomacy, with a focus on solutions to settling disputes in the East Sea and strengthening trust and relations with neighbours and major powers. To do so, it is essential to promote the core role of defence relations and maintain the coordination between competent offices of the MND and relevant central committees, ministries and sectors and localities in grasping and anticipating the situation, particularly the adjustment in other countries’ strategy and policy, avoiding falling into passivity.

Third, deeply and effectively stepping up bilateral defence cooperation with key partners. Priority should be given to cooperating with neighbours, major powers, ASEAN member states and traditional friends as well as maintaining strategic balance in defence relations. Moreover, importance should be attached to strengthening defence cooperation on training, settlement of war consequences, humanitarian assistance - disaster relief, participation in the UN peacekeeping mission, strategic study, defence industry, military trade, and maritime security. It is necessary to continue establishing and expanding cooperation with friendly countries and those who share the interest with us in accordance with the demand and condition of our country, the VPA and our partners.

Fourth, actively taking part in multilateral defence cooperation within the ASEAN-led framework; promoting the initiatives in the ASEAN and China defence cooperation. It is important to make elaborate preparations for Vietnam’s ASEAN chairmanship takeover in 2020; propose the initiatives and road map for the ADMM+ until 2030 and develop the themes of military-defence conferences; effectively implement the Project on holding military-defence ASEAN conferences in 2020 and the Project on strengthening defence cooperation with the European Union. Grounded on the results of deployment of the Level-2 Field Hospital No.1, it is essential to make preparations for deploying the Level-2 Field Hospital No.2 and Engineer Team to the UN peacekeeping mission. Via multilateral cooperation, it is important to raise the role and status of our country and VPA in the international arena as well as improve the VPA’s adaptability and capability to organize international events during the process of international integration.

Fifth, staying close to the situation in the world, the region, and the East Sea, particularly the relations, strategic competition, and trade war between major powers to make the assessment of difficulties, advantages and direct impacts on Vietnam. Due attention should be paid to proposing measures to combine defence-security and diplomacy with socio-economic and cultural development under the Resolution of the 12th Party Central Committee’s 8th Plenum on the Strategy for Vietnam’s sustainable marine economic development until 2030 with a vision until 2045; to cooperating with relevant offices of Vietnam and other countries in executing the UNCLOS of 1982 and the DOC; to taking part in building the COC in a practical, feasible manner.

Sixth, improving the quality of strategic forecasts and the capability to counsel, direct, manage, operate, coordinate and organize defence diplomacy activities, ensuring closeness and effectiveness in all steps (leadership, direction, implementation, review, speech, information, propagation, etc.) in accordance with the Party’s guidelines, the State’s law and the requirements for the Homeland protection mission.

Seventh, continuing to supplement and perfect the system of legal normative documents on defence diplomacy in tune with the development of the situation and international law. In medium term, it is necessary to issue a Circular stipulating and guiding the implementation of several articles of the Decree 22/2016/NĐ-CP, dated March 31st 2016 by the Government on defence diplomacy; to submit the draft Decree to the Government, which amends the Decree 104/2012/NĐ-CP, dated December 5th 2012 on foreign military ships making visits to Vietnam. At the same time, it is important to strengthen cooperation on studying sea and island-related law, including the issues on legal sovereignty, claimed sovereignty and status quo sovereignty; to complete and execute the projects on enhancing the effectiveness of defence relations with Cuba and Russia, etc.

Eighth, stepping up defence diplomacy information and propagation work, with focuses placed on bilateral defence cooperation between Vietnam and other countries as well as Vietnam’s initiatives and contributions in multilateral defence conferences in 2019. Due regard should be paid to propagating the results of cooperation on war consequence settlement, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, national border, sea, and island protection, border defence diplomacy, Vietnam’s participation in the UN peacekeeping mission; to disseminating the products of our defence industry to international friends.

Ninth, further implementing the CMC and MND’s guidelines on the VPA’s organizational structure adjustment within offices and units in charge of defence diplomacy. Great value should be attached to improving the political will, professional competence, legal knowledge, foreign language and information technology level of cadres in charge of defence diplomacy according to the criteria for “global citizens”, ensuring that they are capable of taking part in international and regional defence and security-related organizations in both long and short terms.

Grasping the Party’s guidelines and principles for external affairs and the CMC and MND’s leadership and direction, the VPA should raise a sense of political responsibility, further promote its function as an army ready for work, and strive to successfully perform the defence diplomacy work to make great contributions to the Homeland construction and protection.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, Member of the Party Central Committee

Standing Member of the CMC, Deputy Minister of National Defence

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For the past nearly 75 years of establishment, combat and growth, under the leadership, education and training of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Ho Chi Minh, the VPA has become increasingly strong; achieved various feats of arms and outstanding achievements, making significant contribution to glorious victories of the whole nation in the cause of national liberation, construction and defense.
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