The growing wave of populism globally means that Singapore has to work with like-minded partners - including Europe, Japan, Asean and China, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with the Singapore media on Saturday (June 14), the final day of his visit to France.
These are partners who agree that a rules-based multilateral system is important, and France is among them, he added.
"It may be outdated but we cannot throw (the multilateral system) out and throw out the baby with the bathwater. I think Europe is like-minded, certainly France believes this passionately, so does Germany's Angela Merkel, and we hope that will provide us with the basis to work with Europe and also enable Europe to pursue this role on the world stage," he said.
He noted that Europe has its own tensions, as individual countries in the region have their own radical rightist and nativist movements.
"So one of the things we hope for is that the European countries are able to manage their social and political tensions, so they do not end up with radical governments.
"Otherwise, the governments may be like-minded with you but if they can't hold their own domestically, I think they will not be on a strong platform."
Mr Lee, who was in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to attend France's National Day Parade on Saturday as a guest of honour, said Singapore-France ties are very good.
Upon arriving in Paris on Friday, Mr Lee met French industry leaders and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. He then attended an official welcome ceremony at the Hotel National des Invalides, and at 9.30pm had dinner with Mr Macron. He was accompanied by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, and other officials.
As the programme was behind time, a joint press briefing that the two leaders were scheduled to hold before the dinner was cancelled.
Mr Lee said he and Mr Macron talked about the two countries' security cooperation, particularly the Cazaux Air Base deployment.
"We've been there 20 years and we are very grateful for the generosity of our host and it has been a tremendous help to us, producing many pilots and a fair number of babies as well," he said with a smile. Some 190 Singapore pilots have trained at the base, and 191 babies have been born to the pilots there.
Mr Lee added that he and Mr Macron also talked about economic cooperation, and how Singapore and France are pursuing new avenues of collaboration in areas such as innovation and the environment.
Taking a broader view, he said France has always seen itself as having a role beyond Europe and beyond its own national concerns.
"(Former French President Charles) de Gaulle certainly had that view and the French certainly have always maintained this self-image and this perception of where they ought to be in the world. They want to participate in East Asia, they want to have an influence. Even in security matters, they think they should contribute something and they do have forces, they have resources," he said.
"The more we care about one another's parts of the world, the more stable, secure and connected the world will be."
As the coordinator for European Union-Asean relations this year, Singapore will also look at how it can help establish a framework to restart talks for an EU-Asean free trade agreement, said Mr Lee. While the idea has been mooted, a deal has remained elusive thus far.
"If we can identify what the shape of the deal can be like, where the major opportunities are, (where) our trade-offs are, then I hope we will have better successes there."
During the visit, the two leaders also issued a roadmap for cooperation on digital innovation, Internet governance and cyber security. The roadmap reaffirms commitment to an open and secure cyberspace.