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A milestone in the course of Vietnam – France relations

In February 1993, French President Francois Mitterrand became the first Western leader to visit Vietnam since 1975.

In the delegation of more than 200 people who accompanied Mr Mitterrand to Vietnam, there were 6 ministers and many well-known businessmen such as Air France President Bernard Attali. Welcoming Mr Mitterrand, the streets of Hanoi were decorated with the national flags of the two countries, along with welcome banners in Vietnamese and French.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Mr. Mitterrand visited the battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, which created a turning point that led to the signing of the Geneva Agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam in 1954. Speaking in Hanoi after During his visit to Dien Bien Phu, President Mitterrand said that France’s war in Indochina “seemed a mistake”, in his view.

“French colonialism must understand the need to turn a new page. Since the end of the war, I think everything is worth rethinking. I am satisfied that France was the first Western country to come here to express its desire for reconciliation,” Mitterrand said.

The late French President Francois Mitterrand (left) talks with General Vo Nguyen Giap during his visit to Vietnam in February 1993. Photo: Reuters.

French President Francois Mitterrand (left) talks with General Vo Nguyen Giap during his visit to Vietnam in February 1993. Photo: Reuters.

The French leader also said that they would help Vietnam restore relations with international financial institutions and dual aid, and judged that the US embargo was outdated and needed to be lifted.

Mr Mitterrand’s three-day visit is said to show France’s support for Vietnam’s reform and opening up, promote Vietnam’s increased integration into the world economy, and at the same time reflect the growing Western interest in Vietnam’s economic prospects and potential.

Vietnam and France established diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level on April 12, 1973. After 1975, Vietnam-France relations were strengthened in many aspects, with an important milestone being the visit to France by the late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in April 1977.

During a period when the US and the West tried to encircle and isolate Vietnam, France still maintained a moderate stance. Vietnam – French relations have improved since 1989, with France taking the lead in resolving relations with Vietnam, eliminating debt and helping Vietnam settle debts with Paris Club member countries.

After Mr. Mitterrand is considered to have helped usher in a new era of Vietnam-France relations, where relations between the two countries are growing. In 1997, Jacques Chirac, then president of France, visited Vietnamese on the occasion of the Francophonie Summit in Hanoi, then in 2004 during a state visit.

During this visit, Mr. Chirac stressed that despite the burdens of the past, Vietnam and France have the right to send a message of peace, cooperation and charity to the world. Efforts to build this relationship were emphasized during the visit of former Secretary General Nong Duc Manh to France in 2005.

During talks with former Party Secretary General Nong Duc Manh, Mr Chirac welcomed Vietnam’s independent and open foreign policy, affirming France’s support for Vietnam’s development strategy and hunger eradication and poverty reduction. , continues to provide bilateral development assistance to Vietnam. He reiterated France’s full support for Vietnam’s early accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The two countries signed a Joint Statement on the strategic partnership between Vietnam and France when former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited Paris in September 2013, to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Today we can jointly say with joy that the ship of relations between the two countries has landed on the shores of successful friendship and cooperation, with the leaders of the two countries jointly declaring the establishment of a strategic partnership. Vietnam – France”, former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in Paris on September 24, 2013, said that the “special”, multi-field and multi-level relationship between the two countries was mature.

Reality show Vietnam – France relations have developed comprehensively in all aspects in the last few decades. In economic terms, France is Vietnam’s fifth-largest European trading partner, with bilateral trade in the first seven months of this year totaling $2.81 billion.

In July, France ranked third among European countries and 16th out of 140 countries and regions investing in Vietnam with 605 projects, the total registered investment capital reached 3.6 billion USD. . Meanwhile, Vietnamese companies have invested in nine projects in France with a total capital of 3.04 million USD.

Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris during his visit in March 2018. Photo: VNA.

Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris during his visit in March 2018. Photo: VNA.

In terms of development cooperation, France is Europe’s leading provider of official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, and Vietnam ranks second among French ODA recipients in Asia, after Afghanistan. France supports at least 200 million euros (nearly 231 million USD) in ODA annually for Vietnam, focusing on three areas: climate change, energy converted and green growth.

In terms of security and defense, France is the first Western country to have a defense attache in Vietnam since 1991. The two sides regularly exchange delegations, hold annual consultations, conduct security dialogues, and support the export of face masks, equipment and weapons, training officers. Vietnam and France also have a strategic partnership in the defense sector.

The cooperative education-training relationship between Vietnam and France has been established and developed since the early 1980s. France has always considered this a priority goal in cooperative activities in Vietnam, with the main focus on teaching and development of the French language, undergraduate and postgraduate human resource training. Over the past 10 years, the number of Vietnamese students coming to France has increased by about 40% and now there are nearly 10,000 international students.

In terms of culture and tourism, the French government spends about 5 million euros ($5.7 million) on the cultural cooperation budget with Vietnam. France also ranks 7th among the countries and regions that invest the most in tourism in Vietnam, with 14 projects totaling 188 million USD.

In 2018, in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and 5 years of the establishment of the Vietnam-France strategic partnership, Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong visited France, French Prime Minister at the time Edouard Philippe also made an official visit to Vietnam. This event is said to be a testament to the ever-growing relationship between the two countries.

During his visit in November 2018, Prime Minister Philippe became the second senior French leader to visit Dien Bien Phu after the late President Mitterrand. He visited the site where the campaign to overthrow the French colonial regime in Indochina was taking place, then laid flowers on death memorials from both sides.

“We have developed a close and serious relationship with Vietnam. I realize that both sides need to remember the common past peacefully. By making peace with the past, the two countries look forward to a shared future with new strength,” said Mr. Philippe announced at that moment.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will pay an official visit to France from 3 to 5 November, after attending the COP26 conference in the UK. French Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery said that during this visit, France would welcome the leaders of the Vietnamese Government with a very high level of etiquette, in the context of the two countries’ desire to further strengthen relations with Vietnam’s strategic actions.

“We are very pleased and honored by the choice of the Vietnamese Prime Minister. This shows his importance and position in bilateral relations as well as in regional relations between the two sides,” Ambassador Warnery stressed.


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