General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong highlighted the bright prospects for Vietnam-France relations in his recent article published by Le Monde newspaper on the occasion of his ongoing visit to France from March 25-27.

He wrote the world is changing rapidly and humans face political and economic turning points at the global scale, which offer both opportunities and challenges to all countries. The fourth industrial revolution has forced all nations to seek ways to shift to a new development period, he said.

Asia-Pacific has become one of the most dynamic regions in the world in all aspects. With the robust development of China, Russia and India, the Asia-Pacific region, especially Asia, features the most important economies in the world and has also become a complicated “playing ground” for powerful countries.

The region has also brought about huge opportunities for promoting cooperation and connectivity. Regional and inter-regional forums as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) have played a crucial role in linking coastal Pacific and Asian nations as well as Europe and Asia, the Party chief said.

Lying in the heart of a vast region from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries hold significant positions in Asia-Pacific cooperation.

Previously, Vietnam was known as a battlefield, but now it has emerged with dynamic development and as an intriguing destination for foreign tourists and investors. Vietnam is also a friendly and important partner of many countries around the globe, he said.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong arrives in Paris's Orly airport (Source: VNA)

More than 30 years of reform has brought Vietnam from a poor and war-torn country to a middle-income nation with high economic growth, political and social stability and security. Vietnam’s external relations have been expanded while its position in the global arena has significantly increased.

From a backward agricultural economy, Vietnam has entered a period of stepping up industrialisation and modernisation with annual economic growth of seven percent over the past three decades. In 2017, the country recorded 425 billion USD in export-import turnover and attracted 36 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI). Vietnam moved up five places in competitiveness and 14 places in business environment according to the rankings of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Economic restructuring is shifting towards a smaller agricultural sector and larger service and industry sectors. The country is rising to become a dynamic economy in Asia-Pacific.

Pursuing an external policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development, Vietnam is pushing ahead with international integration. The country has established diplomatic ties with nearly 190 nations, and strategic and comprehensive partnerships with many countries, including all five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. Vietnam is also an active member of the UN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), APEC, ASEM and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Vietnam has joined multiple bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

Vietnam has actively promoted its role at regional and international multilateral mechanisms and engaged in UN peacekeeping activities and non-traditional security exercises. International cooperation and exchanges in various fields from culture, society, science and technology to education and training are developing extensively. Vietnam has become a reliable partner of multiple countries and a responsible member that plays a crucial role in the international community and makes effective contributions to peace, stability and cooperation in the region and the world.

[Vietnam, France mark 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties in Paris]

Although Vietnam and France are located in two different continents, they have very special relations with close-knit connections in terms of history, culture and society.

Looking back on the 45 years of diplomatic relationship which was founded in 1973, it is obvious that bilateral relations have made meaningful strides. A significant event was the official visit to France by then Chairman of the Ministers’ Council (now the Government of Vietnam) Pham Van Dong in 1977, which opened a new chapter in their ties.

Economic, trade, cultural and educational cooperation has been promoted. Particularly, in the 1980s, when Vietnam suffered an embargo, France was the only western country that maintained cooperation in culture, science-technique and education-training with Vietnam by re-opening the Institute of Cultural Exchange with France (IDECAF) in Ho Chi Minh City in July 1982. Now, French culture centres have been expanded to many other Vietnamese localities.

The Vietnamese culture centre in France has also made tireless efforts to popularise Vietnamese culture and language to French people, he wrote.

General Secretary Trong noted that since the late 1980s, especially since Vietnam obtained important reform achievements and began to re-integrate into the international community, the two countries’ relations have had diverse developments with a visit to Vietnam by then French President François Mitterrand in March 1993 and a visit to France by then Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet in June the same year.

Since then, France has considered Vietnam a priority in its foreign policy towards Asia-Pacific, and as a bridge linking France and countries in the region. This was affirmed by what then Foreign Minister of France Alain Juppe said during a trip to Vietnam in November 1994: “France is located in the European continent, an Europe that is increasingly united and Vietnam is located in the Asian continent, an Asia that has been reconciled and is recording strong economic growth. Our two countries can together do many big things.”

Vietnam-France relations developed even more after Vietnam entered ASEAN in 1995 within the framework of relations between the European Union and Vietnam, and part of France’s policy towards Southeast Asia, the Party leader said.

He highlighted the two countries’ common viewpoints on many major international issues, particularly those relating to Sustainable Development Goals and the promotion of cultural diversity and multilateral institutions in managing globalisation.

In his article, General Secretary Trong noted that this year, the two countries celebrate 45 years of diplomatic ties and five years of the strategic partnership. Over the last 45 years, France has been a leading partner of Vietnam. Their relations within bilateral and multilateral frameworks have developed in a more and more diverse manner.

France is the leading bilateral European sponsor of Vietnam. Hundreds of agreements have been signed between their universities and research centres. There are some 7,000 Vietnamese undergraduates and postgraduates in France currently.

Locality-to-locality cooperation has been expanded with the participation of 20 localities of France and 15 provinces and cities of Vietnam. Ten cooperation conferences between their localities have been held recently.

Notably, the Vietnamese community in France is one of the most long-standing and biggest Vietnamese communities in Europe. The community is closely connected with both countries and always an important bridge in Vietnam-France relations.

The leader wrote that the countries are also looking forward to new forms of cooperation to ensure sustainable development through projects on climate change response and agricultural development. Vietnam-France green projects are bringing hope to places where Vietnamese people are strongly affected by climate change.

However, he added, there remains huge cooperation potential that hasn’t been fully tapped. For example, France’s direct investment in Vietnam is just 2.78 billion USD so far, one-third of the Netherlands’ FDI in Vietnam. Bilateral trade is still modest, representing only more than 1 percent of Vietnam’s total export and export revenue. These outcomes have yet to match the cooperation potential of Vietnam-France relations.

According to General Secretary Trong, Vietnam and France could intensify their relations. France is a powerful country in Europe, which is reforming strongly and promoting its global role and has an important impact on Asia. Meanwhile, Vietnam is a quickly developing economy with a population of nearly 100 million and plays an important role in ASEAN and East Asia.

The two countries also shared similar points of view and interests in international issues, Trong wrote, adding that strengthening bilateral relations is an objective and essential need for the interests of both nations.

The Vietnamese Party chief stressed the need to create a new driving force to deepen the Vietnam-France strategic partnership, enhance political trust, boost high-level meetings and visits, improve the efficiency of dialogue and cooperation mechanism, expand collaboration in politics, diplomacy, defence, security, judicial affairs and environmental protection, and step up people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between localities.

As key members of the European Union and ASEAN, each country plays a special role in promoting EU-ASEAN relations.

Vietnam will serve as a bridge connecting France with ASEAN, and hopes that France will help link Vietnam with the EU, Trong wrote.

He said that cooperation in environmental issues and climate change adaptation should be a priority in bilateral ties.

Both should join hands with the international community in carrying out national commitments to climate change, while intensifying global partnerships for sustainable development towards the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He went to write that in the context of a complex and fast-changing world situation, the two countries need to coordinate more closely on regional and international issues of mutual concern.

According to him, both Vietnam and France share a common vision of a multipolar world and multilateralism based on mutual respect, equality and mutually-beneficial cooperation for peace and sustainable and inclusive development. They affirm the central role of the UN in promoting peace and security, prosperity and sustainable development, while respecting the UN Charter and pledging to respect each country’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institution. The two countries also back the principle of solving disputes by peaceful means, without using or threatening to use force on the basis of international law and the UN Charter.

All these things will make the Vietnam-France strategic partnership grow sustainably, comprehensively and effectively in the next decades of the 21st century, the leader wrote.-VNA

Source: VNA