Elevating Vietnam-Greek relations in a more substantive and effective manner

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou is paying an official visit to Vietnam from May 15 to 19 at the invitation of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) hosts welcome ceremony for Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou in Hanoi on May 16 (Photo: VNA)
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) hosts welcome ceremony for Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou in Hanoi on May 16 (Photo: VNA)

This is the first visit made by a head of state of a European Union (EU) member country to Vietnam since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The visit is expected to contribute to consolidating political trust and deepening the multi-faceted cooperation in politics-diplomacy, economics, culture and tourism between the two countries, contributing to elevating the bilateral relations to more substantive and effective.

The visit takes place in the context that the traditional friendship is developing fruitfully. Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, conversations and meetings between the two countries’ leaders are well maintained.

Most recently, during Vietnamese Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan's visit to Greece in November 2021, the two sides agreed to accelerate bilateral cooperation activities. Also on this occasion, Greece donated 250,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam.

Vietnam and Greece established diplomatic ties on April 15, 1975. The two countries share many similarities in terms of time-honoured history and culture. Both countries hold important geopolitical positions and have experienced resistance wars against foreign invaders.

The Greek people and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) actively supported Vietnam’s people in the resistance war against the US. The KKE issued many statements condemning the US imperialists’ bombing of North Vietnam. The Party also organised many meetings and demonstrations in support of Vietnam.

Greece opened its embassy in Hanoi in March 2007, while Vietnam opened its embassy in Athens in December 2010 and officially inaugurated it on March 26, 2012.

Despite having to address a public-debt crisis with a range of political, economic and social issues, along with the migration crisis over the past time, Greece has placed importance on its relations with Vietnam.

Two-way trade has grown rapidly over the past five years, particularly since the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect. Notably, Vietnam’s exports to Greece have expanded strongly and the country has always run a large trade surplus with Greece.

In 2021, the two-way trade surpassed 446 million USD, up 33 percent year-on-year. Vietnam mainly ships footwear, garments-textiles, and aquatic timber products to Greece.

Notably, since 2013, Vietnam’s mobile phone exports to the Southeast European nation rose significantly, from 73.9 million USD in 2014 to 116 million USD in 2020.

The country imports a small volume of paper, paperboard and materials for tobacco production from Greece.

In terms of investment, Greece is currently investing in five small projects in Vietnam within the fields of wholesale and retail, auto and motorcycle repair, science-technology, and communication.

Greece is one of the first EU countries to ratify the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) and back Vietnam’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council membership for 2023-2025.

In development cooperation, Greece has provided aid for ethnic minority groups, flood victims, people with disabilities and Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin victims in Vietnam.

Vietnam and Greece have signed several cooperation documents to promote their bilateral ties in economy, industry and technology, tourism, investment and energy. The two sides are negotiating agreements on double taxation avoidance and maritime cooperation.

The Vietnamese community in Greece has promoted solidarity and maintained a strong attachment to the motherland.

May the official visit to Vietnam by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou be a great success, contributing to deepening the multifaceted cooperation in politics-diplomacy, economy, culture and tourism, lifting the bilateral traditional friendship to a new height.