|Santorini is a top attraction with extraordinary landscapes and ancient archaeological sites. Photo courtesy of the embassy|
On the occasion of the National Day of Greece, the Embassy of Greece to Việt Nam sends a message to celebrate the country’s independence and the relationship with Việt Nam.
Nearly two centuries ago, on March 25, the War of Greek Independence began. This event was of great importance as it eventually lead to the establishment of the sovereign country, that is today the Hellenic Republic. Another interesting fact is the day, March 25, coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation of Our Lady (Theotokos = Mother of God).
In the joyful atmosphere of this special occasion, it is worth seeing how Greece has developed over the years and built up new ties on the international stage, including Việt Nam.
Nowadays, Greek is the 15th largest economy among the 27 members of the European Union. As a developed country, Greece’s economy is constituted mainly by service sector (80%), industry (12%), while agricultural activities occupy nearly 3%. The strongest industries in Greece are tourism and merchant shipping. Every year, Greece attracts millions of tourists from all over the world and Greece is also the country owning the largest merchant fleet that covers 16% of the world’s total capacity.
When it comes to Việt Nam, it is interesting to note that both countries share similarities in their history and the progress of building the country. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975, both sides have made relentless efforts to promote friendship as well as multi-faceted cooperation. The two countries signed a number of agreements and economic contracts including a framework agreement on economic cooperation, industry and technology; a framework agreement on cooperation in tourism; agreement on cultural cooperation.
The year 2018 marked advancements in bilateral ties as there were high-level visits by delegations from both sides. In July 2018, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh paid an official visit to Greece. In return, in December of the same year, Terens Nikolaos Quick, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, led a business delegation to Việt Nam to attend the Việt Nam-Greece Business forum organised by VCCI. Consequently, An agreement on Visa Exemption for diplomatic passports holders between the Government of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam and the Government of the Hellenic Republic has been ratified and came into effect since January 2, this year. This will enable both countries to boost the number of official visits as well as encourage diplomatic exchange.
Trade cooperation is another aspect that has a lot of potential. Despite the modest trade turnover between the two countries over the past few years, it is hopeful that when the Agreement on Maritime and Double Taxation and EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) are successfully negotiated, the figure will be improved. In particular, EVFTA is a promising agreement that has been talked about for years. Greece has always played an active role in supporting Việt Nam to push forward this trade agreement with the hope to create a legal framework to enhance trade activities between two sides in the near future.
Within the scope of bilateral relationship, Greece and Việt Nam can also seek to tighten military cooperation. As Việt Nam has participated the UN peacekeeping force, Greece can provide Vietnamese personnel with necessary training as well as support Việt Nam if Việt Nam wishes to join EU peace keeping operation. In the future, Greece is willing to welcome high-level delegations from Việt Nam to visit and discuss possible framework of military cooperation, especially in the field of maritime security.
Every year, Greece offers scholarships for Vietnamese students in various field including archaeology, tourism, marine study... In the future, Greece hopes that both sides will maintain and strengthen further cooperation in exchanging teachers, scholars, students in public and private sectors. Accordingly, the Greek government also wants to grant more scholarships for Vietnamese students to study Greek language in Athens, which will promote cultural and people-to-people diplomacy between the two countries.
Finally, as one of the top destinations in the world, Greece possesses not only the natural beauty but also the essence of human culture. In 2019 and in the next few years, Greece wishes to welcome a greater number of Vietnamese visitors to come and explore its unique culture. To facilitate this prospect, both sides should consider holding talks on establishing a direct flight from Việt Nam to Greece, which will not only boost the tourism industry but also make it easier for people of both countries to travel. VNS