|Cultural pride: Palestinian artists perform traditional dance recently at Ha Noi Opera House. — Photo courtesy of Palestine's embassy
On the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the Palestine revolution, January 1, 1965, as well as the celebration of the New Year, Palestinian Ambassador Saadi Salama recalls the rich bilateral history between Palestine and Viet Nam.
As Palestinian people, we are proud of our multi-faith heritage and share in these special celebrations, remembering the richness and the diversity of Palestine's holy places and religious traditions. Recognising the birth of Jesus, Christmas celebrations in the ancient Palestinian town of Bethlehem attract both Christians and Muslims.
Celebrating hope, joy, love and the promise of peace, the ages-old message of Christmas speaks to the world today as we work hopefully into the future to see peace prevail in our land, Palestine. I look forward to the New Year as a year of peace and prosperity for all people in the world, and a year that brings our full independent, secure and sovereign Palestinian state closer.
Palestine and Viet Nam celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations over a month ago. But November 19, 1988, was by no means the beginning of the two countries' relationship. Political ties between Palestine and Viet Nam long preceded the establishment of full diplomatic relations and were very strong already in the sixties.
Do you know that Viet Nam has a great deal of "soft power", a kind of power that contrasts with the use of military and economic force to influence the behaviour of others? Viet Nam influences the struggle of the Palestinian people in a very different way through a value which was confirmed by President Ho Chi Minh: "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom."
It can be said that Vietnamese victories against foreign invaders in the past did not rely on hard but soft power. The country achieved its goals without a powerful military force but a legitimate desire for independence and freedom. That desire has incited admiration and respect in other parts of the world. Your spirit in the past still encourages Palestinian people today in our struggle for independence and freedom.
The relationship between Palestine and Viet Nam is particularly special because we share that same spirit in our resistance against suppression and invasion. My role as the Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Viet Nam is to strengthen this special relationship between the two countries. I am happy to inform you that in 2013, enormous efforts have been made to improve economic and trade co-operation between Palestine and Viet Nam despite the geographical distance and the fact that Palestine is still occupied by foreign countries and not yet an independent state with fundamental self-determined rights.
The most important result which laid a legal foundation for the development of bilateral relations was the signing of co-operation agreements in various fields, including the Agreement on Encouragement and Protection of Investment and the Agreement on Double Taxation Avoidance. Simultaneously, activities to enhance trade between the two countries have been strengthened through visits by Palestinian businesses to Viet Nam. Palestine and Viet Nam are also actively working toward the establishment of the Palestine-Viet Nam Joint Commission and the Palestine-Viet Nam Business Council to create conditions for companies to seek promising business and investment opportunities.
I am also delighted that Palestine has initially become an attractive export market for Vietnamese agricultural and fishery products and some industrial products such as shoes and garments. In contrast, the Vietnamese market has also attracted some of Palestine's quality products, including construction materials.
However, our bilateral trade activities remain restrained and haven't matched the potential of both countries as well as our time-honored and very close political relationship, especially given that the Palestinian political situation has changed positively after we were granted the "Non-member observer state" status at the United Nations. This is an important foundation for Palestine to expand co-operation in various fields including economics and trade with other countries, including Viet Nam. Moreover, a new era of co-operation with Viet Nam will be opened in the near future when Palestine becomes a fully independent state. I strongly believe that we, the Palestinian people, will achieve that goal using the "soft power" shared by your country, Viet Nam. — VNS