HA NOI — Kostas Sarantidis, a Greek citizen (also known under the Vietnamese name of Nguyen Van Lap), was awarded the Friendship Medal and granted Vietnamese citizenship yesterday in recognition of his contribution to fostering the traditional friendship and co-operation between Viet Nam and his country.
President Nguyen Minh Triet made the presentation on behalf of the State and Government of Viet Nam.
Triet said the country's development had been helped by people like Lap, a former French legionnaire who changed sides during the war to join Regiment 803. The President added that Lap had also taken part in a number of activities to help consolidate and develop the friendship and multi-faceted co-operation between Viet Nam and his homeland.
Sarantidis said he was greatly honoured to receive the medal and thanked the State and Government of Viet Nam for the award as well as his training in the Viet Nam People's Army.
Sarantidis, 81, fought with Vietnamese Communist forces from 1946 to 1956, as the country struggled to gain independence from France. Now retired, he lives in Viet Nam._VNS