Army should play active role in external affairs: Deputy Defence Minister hinh anh 1Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, member of the Party Central Committee, member of the Central Military Commission’s Standing Board, and Deputy Minister of National Defence (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Defence diplomacy is not only an external task of the Ministry of National Defence or the army but also associated with national independence, sovereignty, and interests of Vietnam, as well as security and peace in the region and the world.

Overcoming a range of difficulties and hurdles in 2020, defence diplomacy and cooperation have posted many breakthroughs, indicating the high trust of Vietnam in international relations while affirming its role as one of the pillars in the foreign affairs of the Party and the State.

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on the occasion of the 76th founding anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) on December 22, Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, member of the Party Central Committee, member of the Central Military Commission’s Standing Board, and Deputy Minister of National Defence highlighted the role of defence diplomacy.

Though Vietnam has basically brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control, there remain huge tasks ahead, he said.

For the army, those tasks lie in disinfecting and protecting the national border, preventing illegal immigration, facilitating the quarantining of hundreds of thousands of people, and conducting activities regarding military medicine.

National defence should not be overshadowed by the pandemic, he stressed, adding that the first task is to safeguard national territorial sovereignty and peace.

Army should play active role in external affairs: Deputy Defence Minister hinh anh 2Chemical soldiers of the Military Region 3 Command prepare to disinfect streets in Hai Phong city to prevent COVID-19 (Photo: VNA)

“We have firmly protected the country’s sovereignty at borders and in the air and sea for national peace, focused on fighting the pandemic, and maintained economic growth,” Vinh said.

Defence diplomacy forms part of the State’s diplomacy, he said, with defence diplomacy characterised by trust building.

The army is a special force in peacetime as it safeguards peace and friendship between countries through cooperation and commitments to not use force in international relations.

Therefore, not only Vietnam but also other countries have paid due attention to defence diplomacy over the past years.

Vinh cited Party documents as saying that national defence must be conducted early and from distance, specifically through peaceful measures during peacetime.

National defence means protecting the national territorial sovereignty, interests, regime, and people, as well as peace. Therefore, Vinh said, the army has an active role to play in external affairs.

In foreign affairs, the top priority should be given to relations with neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and China, in order to maintain good ties, especially borders of stability and peace.

According to the officer, Vietnam has set up defence ties with more than 80 countries worldwide.

Multilaterally, defence cooperation has made outstanding progress over the past years, most notably Vietnam’s defence and military activities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Apart from the 10-member bloc, the country has been an official partner of the European Union (EU) in defence cooperation since 2019.

Moreover, it has stepped up its activities in the UN, Vinh said, noting the country’s deployment of peacekeeping forces in Africa.

The first two female Vietnamese staff officers were recruited by a UN strategic agency in New York this year, and this was also the first time Vietnamese state officials have passed exams to work in the UN agency.

This demonstrates the UN’s positive evaluation of Vietnam while facilitating the country’s implementation of activities, Vinh said.

The rate of female Vietnamese officers joining UN peacekeeping operations now stands at 17 percent, the highest among countries worldwide.

A Vietnamese Lieut. Colonel was honoured with a certificate of merit from the UN Secretary-General for her contributions to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the UN peacekeeping mission.

The UN appreciated her ideas, sense of responsibility, and capacity to inspire the community, Vinh added.

Army should play active role in external affairs: Deputy Defence Minister hinh anh 3Female doctors of the first level-2 field hospital depart for the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan on October 15, 2018 (Photo: VNA)

All defence diplomacy activities prepared by Vietnam this year have been completed well in terms of content, Vinh said.

Most recently, Vietnam hosted the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), with the participation of representatives from ASEAN member countries, its eight partner countries, and five guest nations The meeting approved the Joint Declaration on the Strategic Security Vision of the ADMM+.

This was the first time after seven years that the ADMM+ issued a joint statement with content related to the East Sea issue, and the commitment to not use force, to comply with international law, not to complicate the situation, and to respect each other’s political institutions, Vinh stressed.

This is a favourable condition and affirms Vietnam’s role, geopolitical position and effort over the past years, contributing to encouraging major countries to accept the agreement.

Notably, the UN has highly valued Vietnam’s peacekeeping operations, especially the deployment of the second level-2 field hospital to South Sudan and the arrangement of officers and soldiers at missions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Vietnamese officers and soldiers at the second level-2 field hospital in South Sudan must work to make sure they are not infected with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, he said, while maintaining medical check-ups and treatment for suspected cases.

Army should play active role in external affairs: Deputy Defence Minister hinh anh 4Minister of National Defence Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich (waving) chairs the 7th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus on December 10 (Photo: VNA)

Vietnam needs to continue attaching importance to bilateral relations, especially with neighbouring nations such as Laos, Cambodia, and China, traditional friends such as Russia and Cuba, and developed countries, including Japan and the Republic of Korea, the officer said.

Such relations have effectively contributed to Vietnam’s economic development, he affirmed, adding that defence cooperation should also be strengthened in order to improve trust and promote national socio-economic development on the basis of international cooperation.

Another area where defence foreign affairs must also pay more attention is overcoming the consequences of war, Vinh said, noting that this is a task for society as a whole and the entire political system, run by the Government but with the Ministry of Defence responsible for implementation.

He underlined the importance of enhancing international cooperation in overcoming the consequences of war, saying that this is needed to mobilise financial funding and technological and communications assistance./.