Over the past 67 years, Vietnam’s diplomacy has always accompanied the country’s effort for progress and has significantly contributed to an array of glorious achievements, said Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

Minh made the remarks in his article entitled “Vietnam’s diplomacy reaches new heights” which is published on the occasion of the 67th founding anniversary of diplomacy (August 28).

Diplomacy has taken the lead in creating a peaceful and stable environment and taken advantage of the best external sources to serve national security and development.

The foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, openness, diversification and multilateralism in the spirit that “Vietnam is ready to make friends with countries in the international community, for peace, independence and development” has helped diplomacy mature.

Vietnam has set up diplomatic ties with over 180 out of 193 members of the United Nations and trade ties with nearly 230 countries and territories worldwide. The country has also performed as an active member of more than 70 regional and international organisations.

To date, Vietnam has established 98 representative offices in countries and territories, in five continents worldwide, Minh said.

For the first time in the country’s foreign history, Vietnam has successfully completed its role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the term 2008-2009 and the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2010.

With such efforts, Vietnam ’s role and position in the international arena have been heightened, the diplomat affirmed.

The minister commented on a wide range of important diplomatic activities in all fields, both bilaterally and multilaterally, with priority given to deepening the relationship with neighbouring countries, then regional and major partners.

General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung conducted a series of high-level visits to countries in the Asia-Pacific such as China, Russia, ASEAN members, Japan, the Republic of Korea and India as well as in Latin America such as Cuba, he noted.

At the same time, Vietnam welcomed many foreign State and Government leaders, he added.

Such diplomatic activities have brought concrete outcomes, including the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed on June 27, 2012 which has opened up a new period for comprehensive relations between Vietnam and the EU.

The relationship between Vietnam and Russia has also been lifted to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”. Strategic partnership with Germany and the same with Denmark in climate change, environment, energy and green growth were established in 2011, raising the country’s number of strategic partners to ten, Minh said.

Vietnam is on the way to elevating the relationship with other prioritised and important partners, he added.

Diplomats have closely coordinated with other sectors such as national security and defence, propaganda-ideology and other foreign policy actors to form a firm bloc in protecting the country’s sovereignty over seas and islands.

In the context that the East Sea situation has seen many unfavourable developments in 2011-2012, diplomacy has worked as a compass for the CPV and State leaders dealing directly with emerging problems, contributing to protecting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as security and development interests.

The agreement on basic principles guiding the resolution of maritime issues between Vietnam and China, which was signed during the visit to China by CPV General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in October last year, has created an important framework to address possible changes.

After ten years of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), with Vietnam ’s active and proactive contributions, ASEAN and China have adopted guidelines on the implementation of the DOC. The bloc itself also reached consensus on basic components of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), creating a foundation for negotiations with China and related parties to boost cooperation, for peace and stability in the East Sea .

Diplomacy has promoted Vietnam ’s contributions to building the ASEAN Community, strengthening solidarity and cooperation within the bloc and increasing ASEAN’s central role in the regional structure which is taking shape.

After successfully fulfilling the role of the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2010, Vietnam has stood side by side with following Chairs, including Indonesia (2011) and Cambodia (2012), to bring the 10-member group ahead towards the ASEAN Community.

Economic diplomacy has also proven its significant role in comprehensive diplomacy.

The sector has made the best use of international cooperation and outside sources to serve the country’s development and remove socio-economic difficulties while actively supporting ministries, branches, localities and businesses in export, investment, tourism development and official development assistance, and working with related branches to deal with international economic and trade disputes.

Although the world economy is suffering a lot of changes, economic and trade ties between Vietnam and leading partners such as China, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), the EU and Russia has increased compared with the previous years.

Five years after joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the country’s export turnover rose by 97.7 percent, representing an average annual increase of 19.52 percent.

Vietnam has participated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, while conducted negotiations with a number of important partners such as the EU, the RoK, the European Free Trade Association and the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union on Free Trade Agreements.

Cultural diplomacy has contributed to raising the country’s position, further tightening its relations with partners and promoting its image to international friends.

Over the past year, the sector has attained remarkable achievements with the most worthy of note being UNESCO’s recognition of Vietnam’s heritages such as the Ho Dynasty Citadel, Xoan singing and printed wood blocks with Buddhist Sutras in Vinh Nghiem pagoda, as world cultural heritages.

Overseas Vietnamese affairs and resident protection have also been implemented effectively, contributing to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of residents, fishermen and workers, Minh noted.

The diplomat, however, underlined huge future tasks for diplomacy, including continuing to consolidate a peaceful and stable environment to serve national development and the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Other tasks include further heightening the country’s position in the region and the world, contributing to peace, national independence, democracy and social progress, the minister said.-VNA