Today, on Denmark's Constitution Day, I extend my best wishes to all Danes and their friends in Viet Nam. The nation's present Constitution, dating back to 1953, will be celebrated in many corners of our country through speeches by the leaders of all the main political parties.
|Heart of the matter: Copenhagen is a major regional centre of culture, business, media and science. — Photo courtesy Danish Embassy
The Constitution is the basis for the democratic development of Denmark, including the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary. It also helps create a strong civil society and is the basis for a highly decentralised country, where the major bulk of public resources are managed in municipalities and regions by town councils directly elected by the citizens.
Last year, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Viet Nam. Co-operation really took off in the early nineties when Denmark selected Viet Nam as a partner country for Official Development Assistance (ODA). Since then we have provided more than US$1.3 billon in this type of assistance to Viet Nam. About 90 per cent of this was in the form of grants. I think it is fair to say that this contribution has been a positive influence on Viet Nam's fast economic growth.
During the same period, Viet Nam has experienced an impressive reduction in absolute poverty - from about 58 per cent to below 10 per cent. Denmark's contribution is most visible in the poorer provinces of the country.
Development co-operation will remain a major part of our co-operation up until 2015. This year, we will disburse about $55 million within different sectors in some provinces. This will be focused at stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, fighting the effects of climate change and reducing poverty.
In 2010, Viet Nam became a middle-income country - and our two countries are stepping up commercial links. This includes co-operation in the growth of a "green" economy, in oil and gas, garments and textiles, aquaculture, food safety and water, to mention a few.
More than 130 Danish companies are present in Viet Nam today. Last year, trade between our two countries reached a peak. The figures are still modest at around $500 million a year, but the upward trend is very positive.
It is encouraging to see good relationships develop between our two parliaments. They are working together and interchanging, learning and sharing experiences. Cultural exchanges are also expanding. Danes are performing in Viet Nam and Vietnamese in Denmark.
Now we are moving our relationship up one level through the strategic partnership we signed last year on climate change, green growth and energy efficiency.
To mark this special day, I would like to thank all our partners and friends in Viet Nam for helping bring the relationship to a new height. Together, we have created a solid basis for enhancing and further strengthening bilateral ties between Denmark and Viet Nam. — VNS