| Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Photo: Sputnik)
The 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries (1950- 2020) came on January 30, with the occasion being marked by the official portal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation which published an article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov titled "Russia and Vietnam: Friendship has been through for decades".
The article written by Minister Lavrov states that 2020 is set to be full of anniversaries to mark various aspects of Russia-Vietnam relations, with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations serving as one of the most significant events.
The relationship began on January 30, 1950, when the Soviet Union became one of the first nations globally to recognise Vietnam, thereby laying the foundations for a long-term friendship and close co-operation between the two countries.
Minister Lavrov affirmed that both nations have stood side by side during difficult years, including the past struggles for freedom and independence by the Vietnamese people. This later paved the way for general co-operation between Moscow and Hanoi which has withstood the test of time and has gone from strengthen to strength.
The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed his satisfaction that many of the traditions of solidarity and mutual assistance put forward by previous generations have been being preserved and strengthened to match new historical conditions. This bond served as a reliable foundation for a treaty between the two countries based on the fundamental principles of friendly relations which was signed on June 16, 1994.
Both nations celebrated the 25th anniversary of the signing of this important document in 2019, while Vietnam-Russia co-operation was upgraded to a strategic level in 2001, and to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2002. Currently, bilateral co-operation continues to flourish across a broad range of areas in order to provide benefits to the people of both countries.
Minister Lavrov emphasized the need to maintain regular political dialogues between both sides in order to keep a high degree of openness and mutual trust. Some of the high-level efforts made by both parties includes Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visiting Russia in September 2018, whilst November and December the same year saw the visits to Vietnam of former Russian Prime Minister D.A. Medvedev and Chairman of the Russian State Duma President of the Russian Duma Vyacheslav Viktorovich Volodin. Following this in 2019, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc paid a visit to Russia in May 2019 followed by a trip by National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in December.
These close ties are viewed as an important factor behind the positive development of Russia-Vietnam relations whilst both sides work to resolve issues relating to the bilateral and international agenda. In addition, there is a consistent dialogue in the field of defence and security which is traditionally reliable. There have been frequent exchanges through both political parties and social organisations, he said
He affirmed that both sides have so far been satisfied with the dynamic progress made in terms of economic relations in traditional fields such as energy, industrial production, transport, and agriculture, and new areas like the digital economy, e-governments, "smart city" technology, information security, and communication systems.
Moreover, bilateral trade exchange has been steadily picking up pace with Vietnam becoming the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Eurasian Economic Union members in May 2015. The terms of the agreement, as well as other related bilateral deals, saw bilateral trade reach US$6.1 billion in 2018, representing a record index throughout the entire post-Soviet period.
According to Minister Lavrov, energy co-operation also acts as one of the pillars of both nation’s comprehensive strategic partnership. This can best be seen through the example of the Vietsovpetro joint venture, which has been successfully operating for approximately four decades and serves as the first flag of bilateral co-operation.
|Oil rigs of the Vietnam-Russia oil and gas joint venture Vietsovpetro (Photo:pvn.vn)
This close co-operation has seen leading Russian firms such as Gazprom, Rosneft, NOVATEK, Zarubezhneft Joint Stock Company, and Petrovietnam Oil and Gas Group using the latest in scientific and technological achievements to carry out hydrocarbon exploration and production projects in both Russia and Vietnam.
It is noteworthy that construction projects in Vietnam which receive the support of the State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM and the Center of Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST), will become one of the leading specialized scientific organisations in Southeast Asia. Minister Lavrov said he believes that the key to the successful operation of the CNST in the future is to train Vietnamese nuclear experts in Russia.
Furthermore, the Russia - Vietnam Tropical Research and Technology Center is considered to be a source of joint pride between both nations having just held celebrations for its 30th founding anniversary. Indeed, the CNST has conducted a range of studies in the fields of ecology, tropical medicine, and material science for the benefits of both Russian and Vietnamese agencies and organisations.
Minister Lavrov pointed out that throughout 2019 and 2020 the Russia Year in Vietnam and the Vietnam Year in Russia are being held through over a hundred events aimed at promoting co-operation in trade, economics, military, engineering, science, technology, and development co-operation. The opening ceremony to mark these events was held on May 22, 2019, in Moscow with the respective Prime Ministers of each country in attendance.
The Russian diplomat also highlighted education as another traditional aspect of bilateral co-operation, noting that Vietnam remains among the leading countries in terms of the number of nationals who study in Russia. Over the past few decades, tens of thousands of Vietnamese experts across a variety of fields have been trained at Russian educational institutions.
Elsewhere, tourism is also emerging as an area of major co-operation between both sides. In fact, 2019 saw approximately 600,000 Russians travel to Vietnam, whilst the number of Vietnamese nationals heading to Russia for tourism continues to rise.
The final aspect of the joint relationship emphasized by Minister Lavrov is the effective co-operation that both countries enjoy whilst participating on the world stage. This significant relationship is based on the closeness of the two nations’ stance on urgent issues of global and regional agendas.
Russia and Vietnam are firmly committed to creating a more just and democratic multipolar world order that is based on international law and on the main provisions set out in the United Nations Charter. It is likely that additional opportunities to strengthen foreign policy co-ordination will open in the future, particularly with Vietnam's election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2020- 2021 and the ASEAN Chair 2020.
Minister Lavrov affirmed that since the establishment of diplomatic relations 70 years ago, the two nations have accumulated a range of important co-operation experience across many fields. This great friendship between the two peoples has been present throughout the decades and remains unshakable and unmoved by ever-changing circumstances. It is therefore necessary to preserve this unique aspect of the heritage and pass it on to younger generations who will strive to expand and strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and Vietnam.