The time-honoured friendship that bonded Vietnamese and Italian peoples is a firm foundation for the two countries to enjoy sustainable, ceaseless multi-faceted cooperation over the past time.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Nguyen Hoang Long made the statement in his recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s upcoming State-level visit to Italy and the 40 th anniversary of Vietnam-Italy diplomatic ties.

Since they established their diplomatic ties on March 23, 1973, the two countries have maintained the regular exchange of high-ranking delegations to seek various ways to promote their ties.

Italy was one of the first countries in West Europe assisting Vietnam against the embargo and blockage by sending Italian Foreign Minister Gianni De Michelis to visit Vietnam in 1989 and resuming bilateral development cooperation in 1991.

The country was a destination in Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu’s West European tour in 2000, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s working visit in 2007 and State President Nguyen Minh Triet’s in 2009.

The two countries’ specific and practical cooperation has been supported by a series of important framework agreements signed in the fields of economics, culture, education, security and defence.
Italy is one of Vietnam ’s leading trade partners in the European Union (EU), Long noted.

Despite the global economic slowdown, two-way trade between the two countries has increased considerably in recent time, reaching 2.53 billion USD in 2011 and 2.8 billion USD in 2012, up 38 percent and 10 percent year-on-year respectively.

Italy’s investment in Vietnam has climbed to nearly 200 million USD, with many of its big companies operating efficiently, including scooter manufacturer Piaggio and water boiler manufacturer Ariston.

The country has strongly supported economic cooperation between Vietnam and the EU and is one of few EU countries that have officially backed Vietnam ’s market economy.

Over the past years, Italy has boosted its cultural ties with Vietnam, especially in the domains of museum, cultural heritage preservation and restoration, and the training of staff for the work.

Bilateral cooperation in other areas, including sports and tourism, are planned, the ambassador said.

He also emphasised education-training in Vietnam-Italy cooperation. In 2012, Vietnam sent 300 Vietnamese students and postgraduates to Italy and is about to sign with the country a series of cooperation documents to support Vietnamese students studying and conducting joint research projects there.

Many Italian localities have been twined with Vietnamese localities, such as Hanoi and Rome , HCM City and Milan , Haiphong and Genoa , and Hue and Venice.

About 5,000 Vietnamese people residing in Italy are acting as a bridge for economic and trade ties between the two countries.

According to the ambassador, in 2013, the Vietnamese Embassy in Italy will organise the Vietnam Year in Italy with Vietnamese Weeks in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Milan, Turin, Venice and Napoli to mark the two countries’ 40-year diplomatic ties ./.VNA