Viet Nam News
On the occasion of the National Day of Bulgaria on Friday (March 3), Việt Nam News presents an article written by the Ambassador of Bulgaria to Việt Nam, Evgueni Stoytchev.
In 2017 Bulgaria celebrates the 139th Anniversary of its Liberation and marks 1,336 years since its foundation back in the seventh century. One of the oldest countries in Europe, and having kept its original name since 681 AD, Bulgaria has always strived and managed to preserve its original culture, traditions and language. Situated on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, home of one of the earliest civilizations in Europe, the country nowadays offers a unique blend of a modern setting with touches of antiquity, cities of vitality and pleasantly laid-back rustic scenery.
The extraordinary and rich culture of Bulgaria is well known in Việt Nam, and cherished in the hearts and memories of the tens of thousands of Vietnamese people who studied and worked in Bulgaria in the last decades of the last century. They remember Bulgaria as the land of roses, land of opportunities and their second homeland. Ever since, Việt Nam has remained one of Bulgaria’s main partners in Asia, and we have enjoyed a most vibrant and close relationship. Throughout the years this relationship has given rise to an active exchange at the highest political levels, peaking with the visits to Việt Nam of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria (2014), the Vice President (2015) and the Prime Minister (2013); and the exchange visit of the Prime Minister of Việt Nam (2015). The National Assemblies of both countries have traditionally maintained close collaboration through the established and well-functioning Groups of Friendship.
Việt Nam has maintained an impressive rate of social and economic development and its active, constructive and pragmatic foreign policy positioned the country as a valuable international partner with increasing regional significance.
The present opportunities in bilateral relations are closely intertwined with Việt Nam’s membership of ASEAN and Bulgaria’s membership of the European Union, as the two organisations offer another exciting measure of untapped political and economic potential. The recently concluded EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement will connect the fast growing economy of Việt Nam to the largest economy in the world; will offer opportunities for investments, joint energy, science, technology projects and more.
Furthermore, the EU-Việt Nam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation, which entered into force in October 2016, has the potential to carry the relationship beyond the boundaries of trade and economic cooperation, towards an outward-looking, advanced, multifaceted cooperation for the benefit of both our peoples.
Needless to say, Bulgaria attaches great importance to fostering ties with Việt Nam, and does so with the understanding that in the modern world, the official relations between states must be surpassed by the goal of creating one prosperous community of friends. To build a strong partnership in the long run Bulgaria and Việt Nam must pursue an ambitious agenda for fostering people to people contacts, cultural and educational exchange, as these are the alternative engines of growth in partnership and development, building everlasting bridges of hearts and minds.
Education is a strong asset for the future that Bulgaria and Việt Nam share. Bulgaria has watched proudly as many of the Vietnamese university graduates returned to Việt Nam to make a name of themselves, establishing distinguished careers as Government officials, doctors, teachers, or even Chairman of the National Assembly of the SR Việt Nam and Vice President of the SR Việt Nam – as most notable examples – to the betterment and advancement of their country.
In the words of the Vice Rector of the VNU-University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hà Nội Assoc Prof Dr Trần Thị Minh Hoa: “I was lucky to have had the opportunities to study in Bulgaria, at the University of Economics in Varna. My major was Economics of Tourism. In 1990 I was one of four excellent Vietnamese students who received the opportunity to continue on with their studies towards a PhD. After successfully completing my doctoral dissertation I came back to Việt Nam in 1996 and started to teach at the National University of Economics, from 1996 to 2009, and later on at the VNU-University of Social Sciences and Humanities. In 2012 I was promoted to the position of Vice-Rector. For me Bulgaria is my second homeland, and I owe sincere words of appreciation and gratitude to Bulgaria and to all of my teachers and mentors there."
Today, the Bulgarian Embassy in Hà Nội is witness to a new and growing number of Vietnamese students, who entrust Bulgarian Universities with their higher and continuing education. Some of the preferred Universities are: Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”; New Bulgarian University; University of National and World Economy in Sofia; the Medical Universities of Sofia and Plovdiv; as well as Ruse University “Angel Kantchev”; University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy; University of Mining and Geology “St Ivan Rilski” - that are sought after for the advanced engineering degrees they offer.
Most of the above, along with a few other higher education institutions like the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy and Varna University of Management are in direct collaboration with partners in Việt Nam to provide programmes for academic mobility and education. One such very good instrument is the EU ERASMUS + programme, which has been the primary vehicle for a short term academic exchange, through which, for the past decade, Bulgaria has offered opportunities to about 22,000 students and academics.
The doors of the Bulgarian universities will always remain open to Việt Nam, as confirmed by Dr Kiril Avramov, Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Research of the New Bulgarian University - “Bulgaria provides excellent competitive value for Vietnamese students and researchers, as they can benefit from the scientific expertise, Bulgaria’s active inclusion in various EU-backed scientific initiatives and networks and friendly environment. The traditional friendly ties between Bulgaria and Việt Nam provide mutual respect and recognition that add to the comfort of the Vietnamese students, teachers and researchers in Bulgaria. These are only some of the mutually beneficial fundamentals in our bilateral relations that point to seeking further opportunities for intensification of exchange of people and ideas between Bulgaria and Việt Nam". —VNS