In 2010, Vietnam successfully accomplished its role as Chair of ASEAN, comprehensively deployed foreign affairs and deeper integrated into the international economy, creating a momentum for the nation to enter the 2 nd decade of the 21 st century.

Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem made the remark in an article highlighting the achievements Vietnam has recorded in foreign affairs throughout 2010.

The deputy PM wrote the successful assumption of the ASEAN presidency was considered the most outstanding achievement of Vietnam’s multilateral diplomacy as well as foreign affairs in 2010. The country left its mark by valuable contributions and initiatives in a wide range of issues of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Worthy of note, Vietnam helped improve the quality of the building of the ASEAN Community, put forth initiatives on ASEAN connectivity, reached consensus on the necessity to maintain regional peace and stability, and urged concerned parties to implement the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and build a Code of the Conduct i n the East Sea (COC).

The nation also contributed greatly to strengthening ASEAN’s central role in shaping regional architectures and stepping up cooperative relations in all spheres between the bloc and its important partners.

In dealing with complicated matters in the region, Vietnam demonstrated its role as a responsible and proactive Chair, which spared no efforts to enhance the group’s position in the international arena, Khiem stressed.

Not only focusing on the ASEAN chairmanship, Vietnam also deployed multilateral foreign affairs in various fields and from sub-regional, inter-regional to global levels.

On intensifying partnerships – a main point of bilateral diplomacy, Khiem said, Vietnam continued to develop “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership” with China, by performing a series of diverse and practical activities during 2010, which marked the Year of Vietnam-China Friendship and the 60 th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two neighbours.

Vietnam-China economic cooperation saw a new milestone as two-way trade exceeded the set target of 25 billion USD, the deputy PM wrote.

Regarding the border and territory issues, Vietnam and China announced three important legal documents, officially completing the demarcation and planting of markers along the common land borderline. The two sides also held working-level negotiations on principles guiding the settlement of pending maritime issues and the delimitation in the area out of the mouth of the Tonkin Gulf.

Khiem went on to write that Vietnam’s special relations with Laos and its comprehensive cooperation with Cambodia were consolidated and expanded, especially in economy and trade.

Vietnam and Laos agreed to choose 2010 to be the year for speeding up the planting of border markers and reaped practical results in building more and upgrading border markers. Also, Vietnam actively worked with Cambodia to accelerate the demarcation and planting of markers along the shared land borderline.

Vietnam’s multifaceted cooperation with other nations in Southeast Asia was stepped up, both bilaterally and within the framework of ASEAN, the deputy PM said.

He also noted that Vietnam is gradually establishing and perfecting strategic cooperation frameworks with powerful nations worldwide and deepening its relations with major countries as well as economic and political centres.

Vietnam’s “strategic partnership” with Russia entered a practical stage when the two nations agreed to embark on prioritised cooperation projects, particularly in nuclear power, oil and gas and military techniques.

In relations with the US, the two sides actively promoted the “friendly partnership, multifaceted cooperation, mutual respect and reciprocal benefit” towards a more intensive, extensive and sustainable partnership in the long term.

Vietnam and the US organised a series of activities to celebrate 15 years of the normalisation of relations, conducted the third politics-security-national defence dialogue, held the deputy ministerial-level national defence dialogue and coordinated closely in the Mekong sub-regional cooperation mechanism.

According to the deputy PM, Vietnam advocated holding dialogues with the US on the issues in which the two sides have differences such as democracy, human rights and religion, and actively dealing with the matters left from the war. However, Vietnam was determined to struggle against the acts that interfere in its internal affairs.

Vietnam’s relations with the European Union (EU) witnessed a breakthrough with the initialing of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) following nine rounds of negotiation.

Vietnam and the EU also agreed to begin negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), opening up a new opportunity for the two sides to develop comprehensive, deeper and wider ties in the years to come.

During the process of national development, the role of Vietnam’s foreign affairs have been improved, not only in politics, but also in the economy and culture. Comprehensive diplomacy was strongly performed, with the harmony and close linkage between the foreign affairs of the Party, the National Assembly, the State and the people, as well as the smooth and effective coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sectors, agencies and localities, especially between diplomacy, national defence and security.

Upholding the advantages of more than 90 representative agencies located on all the five continents, economic diplomacy made positive contributions, especially in advising the government on important policies and decisions, including the decision to join in negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) as an official member, as well as other free trade agreements.

Having inherited the successes of the “Year of cultural diplomacy 2009”, Vietnam’s cultural diplomacy flourished in 2010, effectively supporting the organisation of ASEAN activities and major political events.

The country also paid due attention to overseas Vietnamese (OV)-related affairs, creating an exciting and reliable atmosphere in the OV community and enhancing linkages between Ovs and the home land.

The protection of OVs was implemented regularly, timely and effectively. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs well performed its function regarding state management of migration, and worked closely together with the government’s concerned agencies, localities and businesses to properly deal with matters related to Vietnamese guest workers abroad and fishermen in distress or seized at sea.

Along with the State’s diplomacy, the Party’s foreign affaires were deployed proactively and effectively, thus strengthening the solidarity and cooperation with communist, political and ruling parties, particularly enhancing trust and friendship with neighbouring nations.

The National Assembly (NA)’s foreign affairs also saw a number of outstanding activities. Worthy of note was the NA’s successful accomplishment of its role as Chair of the ASEAN Inter-parliament Assembly (AIPA), hosting of the 31 st AIPA General Assembly and attendance at the G-20 parliamentary consultation meeting, marking the development of Vietnam’s parliamentary diplomacy.

People-to-people diplomacy effectively supported the official channels of external relations, with a wide range of activities organised during the year such as the ASEAN People’s Forum, the Vietnam-China Youth Festival, the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia people’s friendship and cooperation meeting, and activities demanding justice for Agent Orange/dioxin victims.

In his article, Deputy PM Khiem also emphasised the importance of the active and dynamic international integration for the nation’s sustainable development in 2011 – the first year Vietnam implements the XIth National Party Congress’ Resolution, the Platform (supplemented, developed) on national construction during the transition towards socialism, the 2011-2020 socio-economic development strategy and the 2011-2015 development plan./.