The event was attended by Vietnamese Ambassador to the Netherlands Ngo Thi Hoa and Dutch friends who had joined movements against the US’s invasion war in Vietnam in the 1960s-1970s.
Ad Spijkers, who was once representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Vietnam and also an active member of the movement in support of Vietnam in Nijmegen, recalled the development of the solidarity movement with Vietnam in the city in the 1960s-1970s.
Many organisations and groups in support of Vietnam were formed in Nijmegen, especially at local universities, he said, adding that along with universities of the Netherlands, Nijmegen University started a number of cooperation projects with Vietnam in the fields of agriculture, technology and health.
After its establishment, MCNV launched a cooperation programme with Vietnam by providing the country with medical assistance in Dong Ha district of the central province of Quang Tri, one of the localities hardest hit by the war, he said.
In 1974, a hospital was built in Dong Ha with funding donated by the Dutch Government and equipment granted by Dutch universities. The hospital was officially put into operation in 1977.
During wartime in Vietnam, Dutch film producer Joris Ivens, who hailed from Nijmegen, arrived in Vietnam and produced many documentary films about the war, which helped international friends understand more about Vietnam’s struggle for justice as well as heroic spirit for peace, independence and unity of the Vietnamese people.
According to Spijkers, after the war, universities of Nijmegen city provided many scholarships for Vietnamese students.
From 1978-1980, hundreds of scientists and engineers working in the fields of health, pharmacy, technology, agriculture and irrigation were trained in the Netherlands through universities’ projects, he said.
Spijkers noted that the solidarity movement between the Dutch and Vietnamese people in the past laid a solid foundation for the enhancement of cooperation between the two nations, and between Vietnam and Nijmegen in particular.
Spijkers also recalled his impression during his trips to Vietnam, especially in 1976 and 1984 when he was a FAO representative in the country, as well as his memories during the time when he lived in Hanoi and witnessed a great change as Vietnam began its Doi Moi (reform) policy in 1986.