Vietnam approves of the European Union’s stance on keeping stability and ensuring respect for international law at sea, at a time when there is Chinese escalation that violates Vietnamese sovereignty in the East Vietnam Sea, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, who is also the deputy prime minister, met with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, in Hanoi on Monday.
Vietnam appreciates the EU’s role in world peace and security as well as the bloc’s position on maintaining stability and respect for international law in the Southeast Asian region and the East Vietnam Sea, Minister Minh said at the meeting.
“This is particularly important as there are now unilateral actions that complicate [the situation], erode trust, and infringe upon the interests and sovereignty of countries, rattling the whole region and the international community,” he elaborated.
The deputy prime minister was referring to Chinese ships that are unlawfully conducting seismic surveys in Vietnamese waters in the East Vietnam Sea, despite repeated opposition from Hanoi.
Mogherini reiterated the EU’s persistent stance on support for freedom of navigation and aviation, the resolution of disputes by peaceful means, and respect for international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Any militarization in the waterway and the ongoing escalation negatively affect peace and stability in the region, she said, adding that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should establish a binding code of conduct for the sea soon.
Mogherini expressed delight at her first visit to Vietnam in the context of positive developments in the Vietnam-EU relationship.
The EU considers Vietnam a top partner in the Southeast Asian region and the grouping is implementing many policies and taking specific measures to cement its ties with the nation, the diplomat said.
She said that the signature of the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) in June 2019 was a milestone in bilateral relations based on common interests and a shared vision for cooperation.
The two sides will work to speed up the ratification of both agreements in order to create a new impetus and bring practical benefits to Vietnam and the EU, the EC vice-president said.
Minister Minh and High Representative Mogherini asserted that cooperation in economic sectors, commerce, and investment is a significant pillar in the Vietnam-EU relationship.
The Vietnamese deputy prime minister appreciated the EU and its member states’ assistance for Vietnam in the nation’s socio-economic advancement and integration.
The EU should maintain official development assistance for Vietnam so as to improve institutional capacity, response to climate change, and sustainable development, he suggested.
Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich also met with Mogherini the same day.
The two announced in a joint press release issued on Monday that “both sides welcome the conclusion of the negotiations of an agreement establishing a framework for the participation of Vietnam in European Union crisis management operations (FPA).”
“The path is now clear towards completing the internal procedures leading to the signature, ratification and full implementation of the agreement,” they added in the press release sent to the media.
The FPA will be the second of its kind to be signed under the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) with an Asian nation after the Republic of Korea, according to an article published on July 19 by Nhan Dan (People) Online, which is the central organ of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
CSDP enables the EU to take a leading role in peacekeeping operations, conflict prevention and strengthening international security, the EU's diplomatic service says on its website.
“It is an integral part of the EU's comprehensive approach towards crisis management, drawing on civilian and military assets,” it adds.