IRSEM Acting Director Dr. Marjorie Vanbaelinghem (PNA photo by Joyce Ann Rocamora)

MANILA – A research center under France's Ministry of the Armed Forces is looking to partner and produce joint publications with Philippine education institutions.

The Institute for Strategic Research (IRSEM) said the potential scope for collaboration is broad given the country's position in the region and France's Indo-Pacific strategy.

"I believe that if we want to have an Indo-Pacific strategy as diversified as we want it to be, we need to pay attention to the viewpoints and realities not just of the biggest countries, like the US, China, or Japan, but also to very important players in the area," IRSEM Acting Director Marjorie Vanbaelinghem told reporters on Tuesday.

Vanbaelinghem is in the Philippines from Dec. 5 to 9 to meet with the National Defense College of the Philippines and the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG).

Among the topics discussed during these meetings were the importance of research, higher military education, as well as ASOG's studies on information warfare and the blue economy.

IRSEM mostly works on academic research focused on international relations, military doctrine, and the sociology of defense.

There is no timeline as to when an agreement between the French and Filipino institutes would be forged but Vanbaelinghem sees joint seminars and more IRSEM researchers visiting the Philippines in 2023.

She highlighted the need for "fresh research", given the developments in the region, including the Taiwan Strait tensions and maritime rows in the South China Sea.

"A lot of international relations theories don't help in the current situation. I think there's a lack of concepts and words, and that's one of the reason why at my institute, we're very eager to work with new actors and new researchers to come out of the old concepts," she said.

Vanbaelinghem, meanwhile, said she was struck by the "very balanced perspective" of the Filipino academe on the current state of play in Asia.

"What I'm very interested in the Philippines is that the country has been dealing with internal threats, as well as external threats. So this balancing of home affairs and international relations issues is quite unique," she said.

"That's probably the reason why people have such a well informed and deep viewpoints and expertise on those topics of security and defense." (PNA)