The year 2014 was filled with busy and effective foreign relation activities that contributed to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for the country’s development, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

Joining the weekly TV programme on VTV1 channel entitled “People ask, ministers answer” on January 4, the Deputy PM underlined a multitude of changes in the regional and world situation during the past year, which had great impacts on Vietnam’s security and development.

In such circumstances, the country was successful in further developing and deepening the framework of relations it set up with important partners in 2013 in an effective and practical manner, he said.

At the same time, the country has maintained territorial sovereignty in the East Sea and won over the world sympathy and support for its righteous stand while exerting every effort to bring ties with China back to stability and cooperation, the Deputy PM said.

He went on to say that economic diplomacy contributed greatly to efforts to overcome the consequences of economic instability and boost growth through promoting market expansion and attraction of investment and official development assistance (ODA).

He noted that the EU increased ODA commitment for Vietnam to 400 million EUR for the 2014-2020 period and the Republic of Korea (RoK) also signed a 12 billion USD memorandum of understanding on infrastructure development in Vietnam .

Meanwhile, Japan upgraded the relationship with Vietnam to an intensive strategic partnership and pledged 120 billion JPY (1.3 billion USD) in ODA loans for five infrastructure and energy projects in the country.

The Deputy PM added that Vietnam basically concluded Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the RoK and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan .

Asked about the diplomatic sector’s response to recent complicated developments in the East Sea, the Deputy PM and FM stated that protecting independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and maintaining stable and peaceful relations for development are two reciprocal goals.

“The key to achieve both objectives is to abide by international law, which also means to uphold the principle of solving all disputes and differences peacefully,” he noted.

Therefore, over the past year, even in the most tense moments, Vietnam consistently pursued dialogue and the peaceful settlement of territorial sovereignty issue in the East Sea in line with international law, the Deputy PM said.

He added that at the same time, the country maintained normal relations in all fields with China, including visits at all levels, ties between the two sides’ ministries, agencies and localities, people-to-people exchange, and economic-trade cooperation activities.

Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh said this year, Vietnam will continue to join ASEAN and the international community in increasing mutual understanding and trust concerning the East Sea issue as well as accelerating the serious and full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and pushing for result-oriented negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

“We applaud all initiatives and proposals for the common goal of maintaining stability, freedom, security and safety of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, turning it into the waters of peace, friendship and cooperation,” he said, adding that the country will continue making active contributions to the formation and implementation of those initiatives.

Discussing problems relating to Vietnamese guest workers in Saudi Arabia in the past year, the Deputy PM stressed that the Party and State always pay special attention to protecting Vietnamese workers abroad.

According to the Deputy PM, right after receiving reports that some Vietnamese workers, particularly women domestic helpers, were facing difficulties in Saudi Arabia, the Foreign Ministry had instructed the Vietnamese Embassy in the country to take prompt measures to protect the workers and send those who want to repatriate home.

The safety of overseas Vietnamese in world’s hot spots such as Libya and Ukraine was also a priority task of the Foreign Ministry last year, Deputy PM Minh said, adding that the Vietnamese Embassy in Ukraine had evacuated Vietnamese citizens from dangerous areas and given them support to resume a normal life. Among 10,000 Vietnamese living in Ukraine , around 300 resided in the conflict zone in the eastern region.-VNA