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Hallmarks of Vietnamese diplomasy in 2006
8/3/2007 15:41' Send Print

Achievements attained in external activities in 2006 were important and significant to national construction and defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. These achievements stemmed from our new power and resources and great and historical achievements of 20 years of renovation of our Party. In the joyful atmostphere of celebrating the Party and the spring of 2007, comrade Pham Gia Khiem, Politburo member, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote a particular article for the Communist Review which sumarized the situation and achievements attained in the external activities of Vietnam in 2006.

2006 ended with important hallmarks on our path to development and international integration. The 10th Party Congress marked an important milestone in 20 years of successful renovation. It defined the orientation and tasks of national development to 2010 and 2020. After the 10th Party Congress, leaders of the Party, the State and National Assembly duly directed external activities in order to successfully carry out external tasks set forth by the Party Congress. Impressive successes in external activities contributed to the creation of favorable conditions for the national construction and defense and improved our prestige and position in the regional and world arena.

Looking back on 2006, our external activities were carried out in a fast changing international environment in which advantages and challenges interacted with each other. We witnessed many active, diversified and complex events which formed particular features of 2006. In general, peace, cooperation and development still remained major trends. The tendency of multipolarity, diversification and mutilateralization in international relations continued to develop. The struggle of people in the world for peace, national independence, and against war, hegmonic imposition and unipolarity attained new progress. However, in the local extent, the world situation still contained unpredictable elements. Local wars, ethnic, racial and religious conflicts, proliferation of nuclear weapons, dispute of borders, territory and resources etc remained complex. The situation in some “hot” areas got even worse, especially in the Middle East. The balance of power in the world, especially between major countries faced important changes. Cooperation and struggle in international relations interacted with each other.

In the last year, the world economy continued to recover and grew at a pace of 5.1%, higher than expected level. However, the world economy still faced complex fluctuations in raw materials and fuel, espcially in the price of crude oil. The financial and monetary systems were unstable. Protectionism in trade relations tended to increase which contained the Doha negotiation round.

The Asia-Pacific region continued to be the most active region in the world, and economic growth was about 7% in 2006. Bilateral economic cooperation and association in the region and greater region continued to strongly develop. However, terrorism, separatism, internal power conflict and competition between nations affected the security, stability and development in the region. In South East Asia, member countries enhanced the process of constructing the ASEAN community. Some ASEAN countries have faced internal difficulties. In addition, non-traditional security threats such as epidemics, natural disasters, environmental pollution and climate changes etc badly affected to security and development of countries.

In such an international context, our external activities were actively carried out in different directions. Bilateral diplomatic activities harmoniously combined with multilateral diplomatic activities with the focus given to major, important matters and effectiveness of cooperation, especially economic effectiveness. These activities attained important outcomes which created favorable conditions for the successful implementation of the socio-economic targets of 2006 and the following years.

In 2006, multilateral diplomatic activities of Vietnam acquired a number of successes, especially the success of the 2006 APEC year and the APEC Summit Week. We carefully prepared and organized 130 conferences and seminars in different localities across our country, of which the most outstanding event was the APEC Summit Week held from 12th – 19th November 2006 in Hanoi with the participation of about 10,000 international guests including delegates, heads of businesses and 1,500 foreign journalists and TV reporters. APEC economies and international friends highly appreciated the important contribution of Vietnam to the success of the 2006 APEC year in all aspects: contents, organization, security, protocol and logistic work. Vietnam proposed a number of initiatives and significantly contributed to important documents to be passed at the summit meeting, particularly the Hanoi Action Plan to implement the Busan roadmap. The successes deeply posted hallmarks of Vietnam on the development process of APEC.

After the successes of the 6th ASEAN Summit Meeting in 1998, the 5th ASEM Meeting in 2004, the accomplishment of 2006 APEC year and the APEC Summit Week reflected the new development of the multilateral diplomatic activities of Vietnam. At the same time, the success of the 14th APEC Summit Meeting was the incarnation of the external policies of the 10th Party Congress and transmitted a strong message to the world and international friends on a Vietnam which has been successfully carrying out renovation and is a dynamic, responsible, safe and hospitable country, showing independence, self-reliance, openness, multilateralization and diverse external policies.

Vietnam actively brought into full play its role and actively participated in and significantly contributed to a number of initiatives at multilateral international organizations and forums. Vietnam’s position and prestige continued to be heightened, shown by the consensus nomination by Asian countries at the United Nations, of Vietnam as a candidate for non-permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations for the term 2008-2009. This non-permenant membership of the Security Council of the United Nations will reflect the full participation by Vietnam in international economic and political life. It is also the recognition by the international community of the international prestige of Vietnam and its responsible contributory capacity in dealing with important international security and political issues.

In 2006, economic-oriented diplomatic activities brought about positive and important results. Diplomatic activities contributed to the maintenance of a peaceful and favorable environment for our national development. The outstanding feature of external activities in 2006 was the completion of bilateral and multilateral negotiations on Vietnam’s accession to the WTO.On 7th November 2006 Vietnam was officially admitted to the WTO which is a global playing field accounting for 90% of the world population, 95% of GDP and the trade values of the world. It was the most important milestone in our path of international integration, from regional integration in 1992 (ASEAN), inter-continental integration in 1996 (ASEM) and APEC in 1998, and global integration now.

The accession of Vietnam to the WTO was an objective necessity in the renewal process, economic integration into the regional and global economies. It was the result of high determination and the correct direction of the Party, the Government and National Assembly, together with great efforts of branches and administrative agencies at all levels over the past 11 years and 200 complex and tenacious bilateral and multilateral negotiations. The National Assembly passed a great number of laws to accommodate requirements of the accession to the WTO. In this general effort, diplomatic activities made good use and effectively exploited external political relations with partners to accelerate the completion of negotiations on the accession to the WTO.

In the last year, diplomatic activities effectively combined external political relations with external economic relations. In addition to visits of leaders of other countries to Vietnam and our leaders to foreign countries, a number of companies and groups of major countries decided to invest in Vietnam, creating a new wave of investment to Vietnam. A noteworthy matter was the success of the APEC year, which opened new opportunities for market expansion, enhanced cooperation in investment, tourism, science and technology, reinforced the confidence of international business community including enterprises of APEC economies, in the market of Vietnam, particularly after Vietnam acquired full membership of the WTO. The visits to Vietnam by about 1,000 representatives of the top corporations and groups of APEC economies on the occasion of the high ranking APEC business meeting was a true reflection of the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market. Availing the 14th APEC Business Meeting, Vietnamese companies and foreign businesses signed a number of big contracts valued up to USD 2 billion.

Diplomatic activities effectively supported businesses and localities in external economic transactions. Vietnamese diplomatic and trade respresentative offices in foreign countries closely cooperated with businesses and domestic agencies to expand trade promotion, labor cooperation and tourism, and promote the image of Vietnam in other countries. Diplomatic activities actively contributed to the creation of new records in external economic activities: export turnover reached USD 40 billion, foreign direct investment was about USD 10 billion and ODA increased to USD 4.445 billion.

Bilateral diplomatic activities, in the last year, were actively carried out in many aspects and acquired important results. High ranking delegations from other countries visiting Vietnam increased to the unprecedented number of more than 40 delegations. This proved that international friends paid attention to the strengthening of multi-faceted cooperation with Vietnam. We made positive changes in promoting friendly relations and cooperation with other nations, especially neighboring, regional and major countries and important partners.

Our relationship with Laos and Cambodia witnessed encouraging development in the direction of bringing into full play the fine traditional political relationship in order to promote the effectiveness of economic, trade and investment cooperation and deeply develop our bilateral relationship. Up to now, Vietnam has been the second biggest investor in Lao vith the total licensed capital of USD 500 million, focusing on energy, agriculture and transport. With Cambodia, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in 8 areas: agriculture, trade and investment, electricity, mineral exploitation, aviation, banking, oil and gas exploration and tourism. In particular, the two countries aslo agreed to increase trade turnover between the two countries to USD 2 billion by 2010. Vietnam will invest in plant and process rubber and build hydro-power plants on the Sesan river.

The bilateral relationship between Vietnam and China recorded new and more comprehensive developments which fortified stability and mutual confidence. In 2006, the two sides continued to despatch high ranking delegations to visit each other countries. The two sides established and convened the first meeting of the Steering Committee of Vietnam-China cooperation. The two sides continued to strengthen high ranking exchanges and meetings, cultural exchange and development experiences and propagandize the traditionally friendly relationship. It was also agreed to increase the two-way trade turnover to USD 15 billion by 2010 on the basis of improving the pattern of trading commodities, diversifying investment cooperation, especially on major economic projects in industry, infrastructure, fertilizers and chemicals. The two sides signed the Minutes on the Progam of two corridor and one economic rim. Agreement was also achieved on the implementation of high-ranking commitments on territory and border.

Our relationship with other ASEAN countries were reinforced and strengthened. The visit to Indonesia by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai in March 2006 brought the relationship between the two countries forwards. The visit to Thailand by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the visit to Vietnam by Thai Prime Minister strengthened bilateral multi-faceted cooperation. The decision of the lower court of Thailand to extradite Ly Tong to Vietnam was our initial success in the struggle on this matter. Vietnam and Malaysia are preparing an action plan to implement a joint statement on the comprehensive cooperation framework between the two countries in the 21st century. On his visit to Vietnam and while attendeding the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Binh Duong industrial park, the Singaporean Prime Minister proposed new important ideas to implement the initiative of connecting the two economies. We received the Crown Prince of Brunei and conducted regular political consultation with Myanmar at the level of deputy minister of foreign affairs.

2006 marked the full normalization of relations between Vietnam and the United States with the adoption by the US Parliament of the permanent normal trade relation (PNTR) with Vietnam. The bilateral visit to Vietnam of the US President G.Bush on the occasion of the 14th APEC Summit Meeting in November 2006 laid solid foundations for further development of bilateral relations in the years to come. The two sides affirmed the continued efforts to establish stable, constructive and multi-faceted relations on the basis of non-interference into each other affairs. The two sides also reached some cooperation agreements, in which the US committed to increase development assistance to Vietnam, provide support on policy preparation and capacity building so as to assist the economic development of Vietnam and cooperation in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS contracted persons, prevention and cure of epidemics, struggle against international drug crimes etc. The US was ready to cooperate with Vietnam in searching for information relating to missing in action cases of Vietnamese soldiers, deal with environment pollution in areas where dioxin agent was stored by the US in the past. The economic, trade and investment relations between Vietnam and the US continued to develop strongly with the annual turnover of USD 9 billion in 2006 compared with USD 7.5 billion in 2005. Many major American groups and corporations came to Vietnam to look for investment opportunities and agreements. With regard to religious, democratic and human right matters, facing our tenacious struggle, on 12th November 2006 the US Department of State removed Vietnam from the list of countries of particular concerns (CPC).

The relationship between Vietnam and Japan was upgraded to a new level. We reached an agreement with Japan on the direction of establishing the strategic partnership relationship for peace and prosperity in Asia, the enhancement of economic and trade relations. The two sides committed to increasing the two-way trade turnover to USD 15 billion by 2010. Japan continued to affirm its strong support to Vietnam in developing the economy and society. Japan will increase its investment in Vietnam and began to study and cooperate with Vietnam to carry out 3 major projects which are the express North – South railway, the North-South highway road, and Hoa Lac high-tech park.

The relationship between Vietnam and Russia began to flourish. In his official visit to Vietnam on the occasion of the 14th APEC Summit Meeting, President V.Putin emphasized the importance of a strategic partnership relationship with Vietnam which is one of the priorities in Russian external policy within the Asia-Pacific region, and affirmed the readiness of the Russia in investing in Vietnam in years to come. The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of energy, fuel, exploration and exploitation of oil and gas, banking, intellectual property rights, and at regional and international forums; promoting exchange of culture, education, health care, tourism and sport. The Russian side agreed to give favorable conditions for Vietnamese citizens who are working and studying in the Russian Federation.

Regarding the relationship with the European Union, the visit to the European Committee (EC), Belgium and bilateral meetings with leaders of EU nations by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on the occasion of his attendance at the ASEM-6 Summit Meeting in Finland, laid new momentum for the relationship between Vietnam and the EU. The completion of bilateral negotiations between Vietnam and the EU on Vietnam’s accession to the WTO was a great support during the last multilateral negotiations of Vietnam at Geneva. Vietnam and the EC also agreed to commence negotiations on a new cooperative agreement to replace the framework agreement signed in 1995. A number of EU countries committed to maintaining and increasing official development assistance to Vietnam. We have been campaigning and struggling with the EU on the imposition of an anti-dumping tax on leather-headed shoes produced by Vietnam.

Our relationships with other countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, former Soviet Republics (SNG), the Middle East, Africa and Latin America continued to be expanded and strengthened. Cooperation has been strongly developed in many aspects, particularly in economic, trade, investment, tourism and labor areas.

External activities in other areas in 2006 also achieved important results. External activities significantly contributed to the protection of sovereignty and national security, the settlement of pending and newly arisen issues relating to territorial and border issues. We decisively struggled against any actions that exploited democratic, human rights and religious matters to interfere into our internal affairs.

We continued to implement the resolution No 36 dated 26th March 2004 of the Politburo on the mobilization of overseas Vietnamese with new and specific measures with the focus to be given to intellectuals and businesses to participate in the national construction; intensifying the protection of Vietnamese citizens and legal persons in foreign countries, in which the noteworthy matter was the repatriation of Vietnamese laborers from Lebanon when fighting broke out in this country. We also struggled for the veracious judgement of the case of Vu Anh Tuan – a student who was killed in Russia. External propaganda was renewed and effectively propagandized the success of the 10th Party Congress and the 14th APEC Summit Week, Vietnamese culture, trade and investment in Vietnam, as well as our international integration.

Together with the external activities of the State, external activities of the National Assembly and other branches and localities continued to be expanded and formed the general strength and contributed to the acquisition of external achievements of the country.

External achievements attained in 2006 had important significance and created favorable conditions for the implementation of external policy and tasks set forth by the 10th Party Congress. They also actively served the national construction and defense. These successes and achievements were the continuation of great and historic achievements of the renovation in the last 20 years in our country.

External activities in 2006 brought to us valuable lessons for the improvement of external operations in the years to come. Hereunder are some noteworthy lessons: firstly, in the fast changing global context, the renewal of thinking on external operations was a constant requirement; secondly, closely combining external political activities with external economic activities; thirdly, harmoniously combining bilateral and multilateral diplomacy; fourthly, actively creating opportunity and taking advantage of opportunity to produce the greatest benefits for the country; fifthly, improving the managerial mechanism of external activities in order to bring into full play the general strength of the entire political system for external operations.

In the coming years, our country will enjoy major opportunities to make big leaps in development and increase our international prestige. After 20 years of renovation, the power and strength of Vietnam has greatly increased and our international relations have widely expanded. We are participating in the global economic and trade playing field. However, we will also face major challenges when we deeply integrate into the global economy. We will also be vigilant to unpredictable movements and changes in the political and security situation of the region and the world. Four threats which were pointed out by our Party still remain and/or have become serious. In general our country is enjoying major and favorable opportunities.

Based on the independent, self-controlled external guideline for peace and cooperation and development, open, diversified and multilateralized external policy, external tasks for 2007 concentrates on following major orientations:

Firstly, continuing to strengthen and improve the multilateral cooperation framework with other countries, particularly neighboring countries, major nations and important partners in order to create new development in cooperative relationships which focus on an in-depth, stable and sustainable basis.

Secondly, economic-oriented external activities will become one of key issues of 2007 and the coming years in order to effectively serve the successful implementation of socio-economic targets of our country; initiatively and actively integrating into regional and global economic institutions and blocks.

Thirdly, strengthening our operations at multilateral forums in the region and the world; expanding multi-faceted cooperation with regional and international organizations; actively participating in the settlement of global issues in order to promote the position and prestige of Vietnam in international organizations. Actively campaigning and preparing necessary conditions for the assumption of the role of non-permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations in 2008-2009; attaching importance to and strengthening the cooperation and unity within ASEAN so as to improve the position and prestige of Vietnam in ASEAN and other countries.

Fourthly, promoting cultural diplomatic activities and considering culture as an important pillar in addition to political and economic diplomacy; renewing and improving the effectiveness of external propaganda.

Fifthly, continuing to effectively implement resolution No 36 of the Politburo on overseas Vietnamese and the protection of citizens and legal persons in foreign countries.

To grasp opportunities in a timely fashion and overcome challenges and successfully implement the external guideline of the 10th Party Congress, we should be firm on principle issues and flexible to tactical matters; combining the strength of our nation with that of the era in the new situation in order to maintain and strengthen the peaceful and stable environment, and create favorable international conditions for the national construction and defense and the promotion of Vietnam’s prestige in international arena.

Pham Gia Khiem