|Picturesque: A photo of the city of Luxembourg, which is the capital of the country of Luxembourg. The spectacular valleys and plateaus led it to be nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the North". —Photo courtesy Luxembourg Embassy
On the occasion of Luxembourg's National Day, I take great pleasure to send greetings to all the readers of the Viet Nam News. This year hails a particular moment as we honor the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of diplomatic relations between Luxembourg and Viet Nam (1973-2013) as well as the 20th anniversary of the development co-operation partnership between the two countries.
To celebrate this auspicious occasion, Luxembourg hosts a professional forum on financial co-operation and several cultural events that are due to take place between June 17 and 21.
Luxembourg has been a witness to Viet Nam's rapid economic growth, particularly after 1995, when relations between our two countries, both on the level of investments and in the area of development co-operation, became ever more dynamic.
Viet Nam's sustained economic rise and remarkable growth have been impressive and when, today, both our economies still have to face the setback of the global downturn, Luxembourg remains confident in Viet Nam's potential to stabilise and expand its economic assets.
The friendship between Viet Nam and Luxembourg has been strengthened over many years by the implementation of various development co-operation projects.
Since the mid-nineties, this work, including various rural development projects, has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged people in remote areas through small and medium infrastructure projects.
In the health sector, for more than 10 years, Luxembourg has supported the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in cold chain logistics and operations, and has invested in improving basic health services as well as maternal and child health in rural areas.
Training, education and capacity building have been an integral part of all projects and programmes to achieve a lasting impact on the lives of rural people. In the years to come, Luxembourg's bilateral relations with Viet Nam will gradually move from the traditional donor-beneficiary relationship to a partnership level that gives due attention to our shared mutual interests.
The year 2015, which marks the end of the current 5-year development co-operation programme, is thus less an exit than a step towards a new type of partnership to respond to Viet Nam's future challenges as a middle income country and a market economy.
Companies from Luxembourg, notably Cargolux, Dometic, Jan De Nul, Paul Wurth and Socit Europenne de Satellites (SES), have gained a presence in Viet Nam in various sectors. Luxembourg has been referred to as the fourth largest EU investor in Viet Nam.
Figures on the level of our bilateral commercial exchanges during the past years show a spectacular growth. But however true this may be, trade still runs at a modest level and could be further intensified.
However, the friendship between Luxembourg and Viet Nam is not restricted to a show of projects and economic data. It is also grounded in acts of solidarity and reciprocity. Viet Nam's support to Luxembourg has been expressed in its backing of Luxembourg in international forums and organisations, while Luxembourg has been a reliable partner for Viet Nam in its relationship with the EU. It is with great satisfaction that Luxembourg saw the signing of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement between Viet Nam and the EU on June 27, 2012 and it is now looking for a fast completion of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
Our relations with Viet Nam have also been cemented by visits and talks on the level of our governments. HRH Grand Duke Henri's official visit in November 2011 was an assertion of Luxembourg's particular attention to Viet Nam. After HE Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh's visit to Luxembourg in June 2012, HE Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker met HE Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the context of the ASEM Summit on November 5, 2012, where both Prime Ministers agreed to "broaden the scope of our co-operation" and called for "more practical and substantial relations".
It is my wish that these calls will not go unheeded and that interaction, particularly in the field of academic exchange and people to people contacts, will be further expanded.
Let me conclude by thanking all those who have contributed to the preparation of the events organised for the celebration of the 40 years of diplomatic relations between Luxembourg and Viet Nam and extend my best wishes to all the friends of Luxembourg in Viet Nam. —VNS