France-Vietnam: Defining new heights in Defense Partnership

French-Vietnam ties are deep-rooted in history as Vietnam was a French colony till the former gained independence in 1954 after the First Indochina War. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was declared by Ho Chi Minh which gained recognition from both China and Soviet Union-both Communist nations. The war had divided Vietnam into two regions namely the Democratic Republic of Vietnam towards the north and the State of Vietnam towards the south. Latter had the backing of US, France and the UK. However, the Geneva Conference in 1954 made France give up all its claims to Indochina region and thus ended French dominance in the peninsula. However, tensions grew between north and south Vietnam which finally culminated in the Vietnam war.

It was in 1973 after the end of Vietnam war, France formally recognised North Vietnam. It was in 1990, François Mitterrand the President of France from 1981-1995 from the Socialist Party visited Vietnam in 1990, the first France President to do so. The visit was to foster bilateral relations due to both the historical links and the role of Vietnam in Francophonie.

The relations have since then over nearly half a century been warm and have progressed deeply on many fronts like culture, defence and education. The defence cooperation between the two sides reached a new height when a Defence Cooperation Agreement was inked between them in 2009. Since then, there has been an increase in cooperation in specialised areas like combating transnational crime, peacekeeping and also military medicine. The strong ties led to the establishment of a New Strategic Partnership in 2013 between the two nations. 2018 is seen as a significant year in the relations as it marks the 45th year of successful diplomatic ties and also the 5th year of strategic partnership. Thus, it presents a great opportunity to take the defence and diplomatic ties to a new level.

The recent visit of Nguyen Phu Trong, who is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam to France with a delegation laid a special focus on defence cooperation as Trong held special talks with Florence Parly who is the French Minister for Armed forces and also Philippe Errera who the Director-General for International Relations and Strategy of Armed Forces Ministry. Proposals were made by Trong to foster defence relations focusing on strategic dialogue, training of officers, security, equipment etc. The two sides also signed a Joint Statement on a Joint Vision on Defence Cooperation for 2018 -2020.

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