Viet Nam News spoke to Algerian Ambassador Cherif Chikhi to mark his country's National Day today.
How do Algerians celebrate their National Day?
Allow me to recall that November 1, 1954 was a great day in the history of our country. This date gave birth to the Glorious Revolution, which led our people to national independence following a war of more than seven years marked by immense sacrifice.
Ambassador Cherif Chikhi
Similar to previous occasions, Algerians will celebrate the anniversary with great emotion, dignity and reverence. The day reminds us of the heroic acts of our people and the suffering they endured in the name of freedom. It is a day of homage and patriotism.
Several official ceremonies of remembrance, exhibitions and conferences will be organised throughout the nation alongside artistic activities held in an atmosphere of joy and pride while the Algiers night sky is lit up by fireworks.
How do you assess the development of bilateral relations between Algeria and Viet Nam during 2010-11?
In this period, relations between our two countries have shown significant development, illustrated by an exchange of high-level delegations, the 9th session of the Joint Committee, the conclusion of various co-operative agreements and the implementation of several bilateral projects.
I recall that President Nguyen Minh Triet paid a state visit to Algeria at the invitation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in April 2010. The talks between the two Heads of State paved the way for further relational development.
Previously, in January of the same year, the President of the Algerian People's National Assembly, Abdelaziz Ziari, came to Viet Nam, solidifying co-operation between our parliamentary institutions.
Algerian Minister in charge of Co-operation, the Maghreb and African Affairs, Abdelkader Messahel, participated in the 2nd Viet Nam-Africa Forum in August 2010 while Moussa Benhamadi, Minister of Post, Communication and Information Technology, took part in several working sessions with Vietnamese officials and representatives from the ICT sector. These meetings enabled an exchange of information and experience as well as the review of bilateral co-operation projects.
A Vietnamese delegation, led by former Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh, attended an international conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, held in Algiers in December 2010.
Furthermore, Algerian and Vietnamese delegations, attending a meeting of Non-Aligned Countries in Belgrade, September 2011, managed to hold productive talks on the sidelines of the gathering.
The Joint Commission on bilateral co-operation held its 9th session in February 2011 in Algiers with both countries reaffirming their common desire to bring economic co-operation to an historic level.
Both Algeria and Viet Nam have great potential for exploitation. In this view, new areas of co-operation have been identified, including habitat and urbanism, maritime transport, small and medium enterprise development, education as well as communication and information technology.
|Algeria at a glance: |
Official language: Arabic
Total area: 2,381,741sq.km
Population: over 36.4 million
Currency: Algerian dinar (DZD)
National flag: consists of two equal vertical bars, green and white, charged in the centre with a red star and crescent.
In addition, a forum for businessmen has been organised to carry out projects of mutual benefit and promote investment opportunities in Algeria.
An agreement on co-operation in maritime transport and a memorandum of understanding in the field of habitat and urbanism have been inked alongside existing ones focused on fisheries and aquaculture, animal health, sports, justice and plant protection.
Regarding inter-enterprise relations, I recall that there has been substantial co-operation between Algerian company Sonatrach and PetroVietnam, both parties bound by a contract on oil exploration and prospecting in the region of Touggourt, southern Algeria, since 2002. In addition, both groups have been associated under a new agreement signed on August 28, 2011, with Japanese consortium JGC Corporation, based on the establishment of hydrocarbon processing facilities in Touggourt.
Two-way trade turnover remains modest at only US$100 million last year. What do you think could be done to boost the situation?
The total amount of trade between Algeria and Viet Nam does not reflect the possibilities that exist. Both countries export a variety of products that our operators exhibit, partly, at fairs and trade events. I announce that, in this regard, Algeria participated at the International Fair in HCM City to be held from November 30 to December 3. Meetings between commercial operators will likely contribute to the development of trade relations.
The amount of $100 million you mentioned represents, essentially, Vietnamese exports. Companies in Viet Nam can also find in Algeria many products of interest to the Vietnamese market, even outside the hydrocarbon sector.
Is it true that Algeria has diverse cultural characteristics, especially in terms of its cuisine?
Algeria is the largest country in Africa. With its special geography and millennia of history, the country has a rich and diversified cultural heritage. These characteristics are to be found in festivals, exhibitions, folk performances, music concerts, film screenings and theatrical plays, frequently organised throughout the country. There are times when these activities are particularly dense, such as during the evenings of the Holy month Ramadhan, when talented artists delight people.
In addition, Algeria has been the host of various international and regional cultural events having twice held the African Cultural Festival in 1969 and 2009. Algiers also served as capital of Arab Culture in 2007 while Tlemcen was the capital of Islamic Culture in 2011.
Tourists walk on a Roman-style theatre near the tourist complex "Corne d'or" at Tipaza coast some 45km west of Algiers. — File Photo
Our capital also hosted the 16th Edition of the "International Book Fair of Algiers" (SILA), a month ago, which, annually organised, offers a great opportunity to explore local and international literature, science and art.
Regarding cuisine, each region of the world has, of course, its own features. When we talk about Algerian dishes, we immediately think of Couscous, but there are other specialties such as Chorba, Tchaktchouka and Tadjine.
Besides such traditional dishes, we also enjoy fish from the Mediterranean Sea, including whiting, red mullet, sardines and shrimp.
A variety of pastries and delicious fruit, such as "Deglet Ennour," a date grown only in Algeria, complete part of our national menu. — VNS