Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg spoke to the Vietnamese press in Ha Noi yesterday during a three-day official visit to Viet Nam at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
What's your view on relations between Viet Nam and Norway in recent year? Are there plans to promote bilateral ties between the two countries?
|Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. — VNA/VNS Photo
I think Viet Nam and Norway have a very good relationship based on business, trade and international co-operation within United Nations projects, such as UNICEF, where we are partners in promoting education, social development, job investment and job creation.
Viet Nam and Norway have many things in common. Fisheries are important for both of our countries and we have been working together on this front. The maritime sector is also important and, of course, the energy sector.
I'm here both as the Norwegian Prime Minister and as an advocate for the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In fact, we will have a meeting tomorrow to discuss the progress Viet Nam has made, which I think is quite remarkable.
Bilateral trade between Viet Nam and Norway was US$307.8 million last year. What plan of action are the two sides pursuing to improve this figure? What expectations do you have for this visit?
My expectation is to get in closer touch and learn more about Viet Nam. It's important that political leaders meet each other for discussions. It's a good framework for international co-operation and trade.
About the trade figure, I think it will increase in the future as Norway has a large Vietnamese community with many contacts in their home country.
Viet Nam and Norway are working on different levels of contacts, government-to-government and people-to-people, to create investment and busines.
Beside co-operation on economic and political fronts, the two countries are also working together to solve environmental-related issues and to promote education. Would you elaborate on the current level of support of your government for Viet Nam? How is it contributing to Viet Nam achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals?
First I always believed that the helping country has to deal with big issues like education and the environment. It's very important to have political connections, but sometimes the emphasis is co-operation and partnership with other countries to learn how they are dealing with those issues.
We are doing this in forest protection, because forests are important. I came here from Indonesia where we discussed important issues related to the rain forest. We are also co-operating with Viet Nam on that front and we will continue to do so.
Through the UNICEF, Norway is supporting different projects to make sure that quality education can reach everybody, especially marginalised groups having problems attending or fulfilling an education programme.
I believe women's education is especially important because it helps families to function. Many female prime ministers around the world believe women's issues should be a big part of equal rights.
My personal belief is that female education is the most important. If women are well-educated, it is much more likely that they will be able to support themselves and make their own choices.
Viet Nam has made great progress on this issue, but there is always room for improvement. I'm going to visit some UNICEF programmes in the country's Northwest region. We understand that some localities require more attention to ensure that all women are well-educated.
What's your opinion on Viet Nam progress to achieve MDGs? How will Norway continue to support Viet Nam in this mission?
The figures are very good. The country has done remarkably not just on the economic front, but also on social development fronts, such as poverty reduction, education and health care.
I'm going to the Lao Cai Province to gain another perspective of Viet Nam as I understand there are different challenges to be addressed in the country side from the cities.
I'm looking forward to hear the Viet Nam Government's strategies as a MDGs' advocate. — VNS