Founded in 1364 by Casimir III the Great, the Jagiellonian University in Kraków is the oldest university in Poland, the second oldest in Central Europe, and one of the oldest functioning universities in the world. Photo courtesy of the embassy
On the occasion of the 101st anniversary of regaining independence (November 11), ambassador of the Republic of Poland Wojciech Gerwel sends a message reflecting on some of Poland’s achievements that may serve to forge even closer co-operation with Việt Nam.
Poland and Việt Nam share a close and multifaceted relationship that builds on the exceptional dynamism of the two countries as well as on the traditional friendship that has been forged between our peoples over three generations. There are many reasons I would encourage friends in Việt Nam to explore Poland, but in this brief article I will mention only a few.
The Polish economy has developed at one of the fastest rates in the West over the past thirty years. In 2018, its GDP growth rate surpassed 5 per cent and the country officially joined the club of developed economies.
Remarkably, this economic dynamism has not come at a cost of rising inequality, environmental degradation and growing debt. On the contrary, Poland’s public debt has been steadily falling and so has social inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient. Despite record economic growth, Poland has significantly reduced its domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center this October, Poles are among the most satisfied people in Europe with the way things are going in their country today, second only to the Netherlands. They are also the greatest EU-enthusiasts, with 84 per cent of Polish citizens expressing support for the EU.
Poland’s strong economic performance is coupled with remarkable cultural vibrancy. Some Vietnamese audiences may be already familiar with Poland’s accomplishments in classical music, jazz, film, and literature. Next year, Warsaw will host the International Chopin Piano Competition – much as it did a generation ago, when Đặng Thái Sơn won the competition as the first Asian artist ever. In October, Poland’s author Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature – the fifth such recognition for literature in the Polish language.
Poland’s culture has been enriched by the presence of a vibrant Vietnamese community, which is one of the largest in Europe. Some of its members have been remarkably successful and the example of Ola Nguyen is a case in point. She recently became one of the country’s most celebrated cooks after winning the highly popular and nationally televised MasterChef Poland competition. This week, the Embassy of Poland and the Metropole Hotel are holding the Polish Gastronomy Week in Hà Nội in collaboration with MasterChef Ola Nguyen to showcase Poland’s rich culinary heritage. I expect such initiatives will raise awareness in Việt Nam of what Poland has to offer in this tasty domain.
Over the past seven decades, thousands of Vietnamese students have chosen Poland as the destination for their academic pursuits. I hope that this trend continues. Today, Polish universities are better than ever. They offer European quality education – and a European experience – at exceptionally affordable prices. Yearly tuition at Polish universities amounts on average to approximately 3,000 EUR (VND76 million), while living costs are among the lowest in Europe. In Poland, there are some 850 university programmes taught fully in English. Prospective Vietnamese students who wish to learn Polish can take advantage of language training courses offered, for instance, at the University of Hà Nội and in Poland.
The year 2020 will mark the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and Việt Nam. It has been a very close and fruitful relationship so far. Given the two countries’ dynamic development, one can remain confident the relationship will bear much fruit in the years to come. VNS