Vietnam began to carry out the Resolution of the 11th National Party Congress in 2011 and gained sustainable development. As the new Head of State, President Truong Tan Sang had a very busy year, particularly in the diplomatic field.

On the threshold of the Year of the Dragon in 2012, the President gave the following interview to the Vietnam News Agency:

The past year has proved to be a milestone in the country's diplomatic activities. How do you assess the gains?

The 11th National Party Congress reiterated Vietnam 's foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, co-operation and development, multilateralism and diversification in relations as well as our pro-activity in international integration as a friend, reliable partner and highly responsible member state of the international community. In implementing this policy in 2011, the Party and Government have carried out many important diplomatic activities, including attending many bilateral and multi-lateral forums regionally and internationally. Participants in such activities included senior party and Government officials from central to local levels. It can be said that 2011 has been a successful year for Vietnam in the diplomatic field. The country's status and position has been highly praised by its international friends. Political security in many regions has been volatile alongside the world economy experiencing difficulties due to the global financial crisis and economic recession. Yet the confidence placed in Vietnam by other countries and regional and international corporations has remained high, the country having remained a destination for them. Foreign donors commitment to the country in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains at a high level. I just want to emphasise that foreign companies invest in Vietnam not only because they feel at ease with what they see happening in the country today, but also because they can foresee a stable and developed Vietnam in the long-run. Achievements gained via diplomatic activities have left strong impacts on the economy and has cultivated trust and mutual understanding between Vietnam and other countries. As a result, they have helped to elevate the country's status in the international arena as well as in the consolidation of national defence and security as well as in the protection of national sovereignty and territorial waters. Once again, we have seen the impact of the effective and correct foreign policy of the Party and Government.

Could you please tell us about some basic measures adopted last year aimed at overcoming difficulties and challenges for next year?

The challenges and difficulties our country encountered in 2011 were much more severe than previously forecast. Faced with a high inflation rate and an unstable macro economy, the Party Politburo issued its Conclusion 02 and the Government issued its Resolution 11 ordering the implementation of strict monetary and financial policies, the reduction in public investment and credit growth, tax holidays and reductions for enterprises facing difficulties, subsidies for the poor, and social security policies alongside others. Under the leadership of the Party and the effective management of the State, coupled with the overhaul efforts and dynamism of the whole society, we have overcome difficulties and challenges to gain many achievements. As a result, inflation has been brought under control while the macro economy has seen positive signals. Business and production have been maintained and even expanded. In 2011, the gross domestic product was almost 6 percent while social security was improved, political security, social law and order maintained and national defence and security further consolidated. The country's position in the world has most certainly been on the rise.

In 2012, many difficulties and challenges remain ahead for the country to stabilise and continue to develop. The Party and Government will continue to implement a strict monetary and financial policy to control inflation and stabilise the macro economy. We will implement many policies to ensure social security, support the poor while rolling out tax holidays and reductions for enterprises, particularly the small and medium, which are facing difficulties.

When the Consumer Price Index (CPI) falls, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will give instructions to commercial banks to lower the interest rate in order to lessen capital difficulties for enterprises. On the other hand, we will restructure the economy, of which the focus will be on public investment. We will also restructure State-owned enterprises (SOEs), particularly state corporations and economic groups. In economic restructuring, the financial system will be included, particularly commercial banks. In 2012, we will renew our growth modality to focus on depth instead of width through the application of advanced technology while improving the quality of human resources in order to improve work performance with high quality and efficiency. We want to have rapid, yet sustainable economic development.

In parallel with economic development, the Party and State will continue to pay attention to culture, society, education and training, science and technology, health care, poverty alleviation while ensuring social security and environmental protection to ensure sustainable development for the nation.

As the Head of the Central Steering Committee on Judicial Reform, could you tell us about plans for 2012?

Since the issuance of Resolutions 08 and 49 – NQ/TW on judicial reform, much improvement has been recorded in the field of justice. Co-ordination between prosecuting agencies has helped speed up progress and the quality of court case settlements. However, I must concede, the tasks ahead remain tantamount to respond to the expectations of both the Party and people in building an upright and transparent judicial system to protect citizens' rights and obligations as well as protect the political system. There is quite a lot of work ahead, but for the immediate future, we will focus on reviewing existing legal documents and regulations on crime and judicial procedures. We will build and complete the legal system related to the organisation and activities of supporting agencies for justice while developing a contingent of competent judicial staff and completing a supervision mechanism by elected agencies and people's organisations towards judicial activities, ensuring good infrastructure. We are going to achieve the targets set out in the Party Resolution in the field of justice to contribute to the process of building a Socialist State ruled by law.

Q: National sovereignty is an issue of high interest to all Vietnamese citizens. What will the country do to protect its sovereignty while maintaining a peaceful environment to build and raise its international status?

A: Territorial integrity is an unalienable right. In the context of the dispute over sovereignty in the East Sea, the Vietnamese Party and Government have persistently followed a policy of solving the issue via peaceful means, through negotiation with relevant parties on the basis of international law and practice, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982 and the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the East Sea, standards universally accepted by the international community. The basis also includes the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between Vietnam and China signed by both countries in October 2011 during the visit to that country by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

Through such peaceful means and active diplomatic activities as well as deep international integration, Vietnam wants to improve its status internationally and regionally.

We want to win further support from international friends towards our people's just cause so that we can protect our territorial integrity while maintaining a peaceful and stable environment to develop the nation and improve our status in the world.

During your term as the President, what are your objectives and tasks?

As I told the National Assembly when first elected as President, I pledge to do my best to serve the homeland and the people while carrying out all my rights and obligations in accordance with the Constitution and the law in order to contribute to the successful implementation of the Resolution of the 11th National Party Congress. Accordingly, the following will be my top priorities.

First, to build a Socialist State ruled by law which is strong, of the people, for the people, by the people, and well managed and highly effective.

Second, to develop our socialist-oriented market economy, renew growth modality, restructure the economy, create a solid foundation for Vietnam to become an industrialised and modernised nation by 2020

Third, to develop culture and society and protect the environment while ceaselessly improving the people's physical and spiritual life.

Fourth, to consolidate national defence and security, firmly protect national independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity while maintaining political security, social law and order and protect the people's peaceful life.

Fifth, to increase diplomatic activities and international integration, create a peaceful and stable environment and facilitate conditions for the cause of building and defending the homeland and raising the nation's status in the world.

And finally, to consolidate and enhance our great national unity to build a Vietnam of peace, independence, unity, territorial integrity, a prosperous people, a strong nation and a democratic, fair and civilised society.

Q: On the occasion of New Year, do you have any message for our international friends and fellow countrymen?

A: On the occasion of New Year, I would like to wish all fellow countrymen nationwide and overseas Vietnamese the best for the New Year. I would also like to express special greetings to army officers and soldiers who serve on our borders and islands. On behalf of Vietnamese people, I would like to extend my wishes for friendship, co-operation and development to people the world over and international friends who are living and working in Vietnam .

Though there remains many difficulties and challenges ahead for us in 2012, let the entire Party, people and army be pro-active in coping with the complex economic situation inside and outside Vietnam and maintain political and social stability, national defence and security. I hope that this year, we will successfully carry out policies to restructure our national economy and renew growth modality to improve productivity as well as the quality, efficiency and competitiveness of the national economy while also further developing the fields of culture, education, health care and ensuring social security and the environmental protection. We are resolved to achieve all our objectives and tasks set for 2012 to create a prerequisite for the successful implementation of our five-year plan (2011-16) which was introduced at the 11th National Party Congress.

I hope that all fellow countrymen, armymen nationwide and overseas Vietnamese will continue to unite and believe in the bright future of our homeland and have confidence in the leadership of the Party and Government. It is certain that we will achieve great success in the New Year./.