Lifting Vietnam-France relations to a new height

Tuesday, 2016-08-30 16:35:50
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Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Ngoc Son
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NDO – French President François Hollande is to pay an official visit to Vietnam from September 5 to 7. On the occasion, Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Ngoc Son answered the queries raised by the Vietnamese media in France, hailing the visit – the first one by a French President to Vietnam in 12 years – as a new development step in the relationship between the two countries. 

Q: How is President Hollande’s upcoming visit to Vietnam significant to bilateral relations which has been elevated to the strategic partnership since 2013?

A: Vietnam and France established diplomatic ties on April 12, 1973, two years before the war concluded in Vietnam. Since then, both countries have overcome differences and comprehensively developed bilateral ties in all fields. In particular, the two sides signed a strategic partnership agreement in September 2013 on the occasion of the France visit made by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

During the past four decades, France has always been a leading partner of Vietnam in Europe. France is one of the first Western nations to back and support Vietnam healing the wounds of war and normalisation of ties with the world. In 1993, French President François Mitterrand became the first Western president to visit Vietnam. During his visit, President Mitterrand called on the United States to normalise relations with Vietnam.

France was also the country to provide the biggest support for Vietnam to host the 7th Francophone summit in 1997. It was the first international-level event hosted by Vietnam, creating a foundation for the country to successfully organise other international events later on. French President Jacques Chirac arrived in Vietnam for the first time in 1997 for the Francophone summit and for the second time in 2004.

The Vietnam visit by President François Hollande will be made as the relations between the two countries are growing strongly and comprehensively in various fields. With new developments seen in the Southeast Asian region as well as in the regional geopolitical environment, the visit will surely be of special significance, which is manifested through the two aspects as follows:

Firstly, President Hollande will be accompanied by a number of French ministers and leading businesses on his upcoming visit to Vietnam, which will create a new step for relations between the two countries and lift bilateral ties to a new height.

Secondly, the visit also shows France’s increasing interest in the Southeast Asian region. In the beginning of the year, Speaker of the French Parliament Claude Bartolone and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Vietnam, and now comes the French president. This clearly points out that France is paying increasing interest to Vietnam in particularly and the Southeast Asian region as a whole.

Q: What are the key contents to be discussed by both sides during President Hollande’s Vietnam visit?

A: During the visit, the two sides will review and concretise connotations on special co-operation and on strategic partnership between the two countries.

They will discuss measures to boost political relations and the exchange of high-level delegations in both bilateral and multilateral platforms.

The visit also provides a good opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of current bilateral co-operative mechanisms and accelerate the co-operation projects between the two nations in terms of infrastructure, science and technology, healthcare, agriculture and the fight against climate change.

A number of new co-operative documents are scheduled to be signed between the two sides during the visit. In addition, Vietnamese and French leaders will discuss international and regional issues of mutual concern.

Q: After the Vietnam visit by US President Barack Obama, the visit by French President Hollande to the country indicates that the success of Vietnam’s open and co-operative foreign policy has been expanded intensively and extensively across the region and around the world. What do you think of the statement?

A: I totally agree with the statement. Over the past years, as Vietnam has implemented a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralism and diversification, the country’s diplomacy has obtained significant achievements, contributing to national construction and protection and enhancing the position of Vietnam on the international arena. By diplomacy I mean state diplomacy as well as diplomacy of people and localities.

Within two years back, all heads of state and government leaders of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have paid visits to Vietnam, including Russian president and PM, Chinese president and general secretary, PM of the UK, US president and now French president. This has affirmed that Vietnam’s regional and international roles have been highly appreciated, which is an undeniable achievement of Vietnam’s diplomacy.

Q: As the Vietnamese ambassador in France and an experienced diplomat working in the Vietnam-France relations, what do you think of the future outlook for acceleration of co-operation between the two countries?

A: I am optimistic about the future Vietnam-France relations for the following reasons:

Firstly, the French president’s visit will create an impetus and a new development step in the relationship between the two countries. Both enjoy long-standing traditional relations with cohesion in terms of history and culture. The two nations have create a solid legal foundation to expand future co-operation in various fields. The people of Vietnam and France continue to foster a close relationship and understand each other. There is a community of 300,000 Vietnamese living in France and about 7,000 students studying in the country. All these factors will positively boost bilateral ties in the future.

Secondly, Vietnam is playing an increasingly dynamic role in ASEAN and integrating actively into the international community. In addition, it is also an active member of the Francophone community. As Vietnam has already signed new-style free trade agreements and is integrating into the ASEAN Economic Community, the Vietnamese market will be increasingly attractive to French enterprises. With these foundations, I think that the Vietnam-France relations will become more and more fruitful in the future.

Thank you very much!