A Vietnamese top defence delegation led by Defence Minister, General Phung Quang Thanh, is to depart to Cambodia on May 27th to attend the sixth ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM-6) in Phnom Penh. Before travelling to the importance regional event, the Defence Minister agreed to answer some questions from People’s Army Newspaper’s reporters.
Reporter: Mister Defence Minister, what does the Vietnamese defence delegation expect to contribute to ADMM-6 with its objectives to promote regional defence cooperation in the direction toward an ASEAN community by 2015?
Defence Minister: A strong, united and closely connected ASEAN will bring benefits to the region as a whole and Vietnam in particular. Promoting defence cooperation among ASEAN members, including the organisation of the annual event with the participation of regional top defence officials, is one of the three pillars of the ASEAN community and plays a key role.
The Vietnamese defence delegation will participate in ADMM-6 with its high responsibility and activeness and will bring into full play the results of regional defence cooperation over the past time to promote confidence, peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region. The Vietnamese defence delegation will give ideas on security of common concern and national interest. The participation of the defence delegation is on one hand to realise the Vietnamese Party’s and State’s foreign policies for national interests and to improve the status of the Vietnam People’s Army on the international arena.
Reporter: What do you think about the proposals by other ASEAN members to increase the frequency of the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM+)?
Defence Minister: ADMM+, which draws the participation of top defence officials of the 10 ASEAN members and its 8 partners, namely, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the USA, was first held on October 12th 2010 in Hanoi. This could be seen as a milestone in ASEAN history. ADMM+ is aimed at promoting unity, understanding and confidence as well as practical cooperation among regional nations via forums and bilateral meetings.
At the first ADMM+ in Vietnam, the top defence officials defined five priorities for cooperation: humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR); maritime security; military medicine; anti-terrorism; peacekeeping operations. The first HADR session, which was held in China in November 2011 and co-chaired by Vietnam and China, launched a number of proposals, such as information, experience, ideas and good practice exchanges among members to enhance regional action coordination; augmenting abilities via seminars and training programmes in early warning, deployment of quick-response forces; on-the-spot management; command, control and logistics and first joint manoeuvre in 2013. The second HADR session is expected to take place later in 2012.
Although the ADMM+ mechanism was newly founded, ADMM+ has become a regional prospective security arrangement, which, in fact, has drawn much attention from countries across the world. As far as I know, several other countries, say Mongolia, Canada and France, wish to join the arrangement.
Today, global and regional situations have become more complex and fluid due to the debt crisis in Europe, armed conflicts in the Middle East and northern Africa as well as earthquakes and tsunami in Asia. These situations have strong impacts on Asia-Pacific security in general and Southeast Asia security in particular. Generally speaking, the region remains comparatively stable in security terms, dynamic in economic growth and plays an increasing role in solving international issues but it also faces complex security challenges in both traditional and non-traditional terms. This has led to the idea to hold ADMM+ in every 2 years.
The idea expresses the common desire of ASEAN to bring into full play the practical value of this arrangement and develop it as important foundations to promote defence and security strategic cooperation to firmly ensure regional peace and stability. Via such a forum, ASEAN could take advantage of other resources from its partners to successfully build an ASEAN political and security community by 2015. The more often ADMM+ is held, the more opportunities ASEAN would have.
But how ASEAN acts in this forum is even more important. For its part, ASEAN should continue to play the central role and to function as the engine for ADMM+. In addition, all ASEAN members should heighten their responsibilities and actively participate in cooperation for the common interests, seriously comply with international laws, respect national sovereignty and avoid intervening in other countries’ domestic affairs.
Reporter: What do you assess and expect about ASEAN in 2012 presided by Cambodia?
Defence Minister: I strongly believe that Cambodia in general and the Cambodian Defence Ministry in particular with their high responsibilities for the common development of the bloc will successfully fulfill its mission as the ASEAN Chair in 2012. In fact, the way the host has carefully prepared for its Chairmanship and the topic “ASEAN: one community, one destiny” set by Cambodia could allow us to believe in a successful year.
The Vietnamese Defence Ministry will actively back the Cambodian Defence Ministry to well organise defence and military conferences in 2012 in an effort to boost defence cooperation and consolidate peace, security and development in the region.
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. Defence Minister.
Thu Nguyen (PANO)