The European Union’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini will sign a defense agreement with Vietnam today.
Ms. Mogherini will sign a Framework Participation Agreement (FPA), which will make Vietnam part of the EU’s crisis management operations.
A FPA also allows a partner country to contribute to the operations and missions under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, a strategy to coordinate the bloc’s defence and intelligence policies.
The move is a clear indication that the EU is trying to play a more active security role in the region. Vietnam stands in the middle of the South China Sea dispute.
Tensions flared between Hanoi and Beijing earlier last month when a Chinese geological survey ship began conducting operations near a Vietnamese-controlled but Chinese-claimed reef.
Hanoi certainly has a vested interest in checking Chinese aggression in the region and accruing military benefits from Europe through personnel training, collaboration and possible weapons deals.
However, how far Vietnam goes in cooperating on security will likely be hampered by Hanoi’s desire to retain strong economic ties with Beijing, for example, through the Belt & Road Initiative.
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