|Seat of power: Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen is the seat of the Danish Parliament. The Danish parliament - and Danes around the world - celebrate Danish Constitution Day on June 5. — Photo courtesy of Danish Embassy
Danish Constitution Day is celebrated every year throughout Denmark and among Danes abroad. To mark the event today, the country's ambassador to Viet Nam, John Nielsen, writes to Viet Nam News.
We commemorate the signing of the Danish Constitution on June 5, 1849. On Constitution Day, we celebrate our democracy, we celebrate that we all have the right to free speech and we celebrate that we all have a role to play in the further development of our society. We believe it is vital that citizens are engaged and actively participate in public debate and the development of our future society.
Danish welfare depends to a great extent on our interaction with other countries. More than half of our GDP stems from the export of goods and services, and about 25 per cent of all jobs in Denmark are directly or indirectly related to the export sector.
Viet Nam is one of the high-priority countries with which we wish to strengthen our trade and investment relations.
Viet Nam and Denmark have a long and strong partnership. In 1971, Denmark was among the first countries in the west to recognise northern Viet Nam, and in 2011, we celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries. The development assistance provided by Denmark was at the outset a main pillar for the creation of a strong relationship built on mutual respect and trust.
Since 1994, Denmark has provided Viet Nam with more than US$1.3 billion in development assistance. Through this support, Denmark has contributed to the strong growth and economic development which has taken place in Viet Nam. Denmark is still, by far, the biggest provider of grants among all EU member states. Actually, we account for almost 25 per cent of the grants provided by all EU member states.
Commercial relations between Denmark and Viet Nam have indeed grown continuously over the past few years. From 2007-2013, there was an increase of 57 per cent in trade between our two countries, and last year, trade between Viet Nam and Denmark set a new record.
Looking ahead, there are a number of key commercial areas in particular where strong Danish expertise and know-how match the challenges and demands that Viet Nam is facing. This includes energy efficiency, renewable energy, water and waste management, as well as fisheries and food safety, IT healthcare, shipping and education. I hope that in the near future, we will see even more Danish companies investing in these areas in Viet Nam.
I also hope that the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being negotiated between the EU and Viet Nam, will contribute to commerce between the EU and Viet Nam and create a more transparent and predictable business environment for the mutual benefit of all parties. Hopefully it will also attract more Danish companies to Viet Nam than the 130 that are currently here.
Cultural activities are like commercial relations expanding among our two countries, and a number of Danish artists and athletes visit Viet Nam while Vietnamese artists perform in Denmark, some of them supported through the Danish Cultural Programme. Tourism is also growing rapidly. Denmark and our capital Copenhagen – located in the heart of Scandinavia – is world known for design, architecture, world class restaurants, a vibrant cultural scene, innovation and green cities.
Over the past few years, our two countries have created a strong framework for the continued development and expansion of our bilateral relations. In 2012, during Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's visit to Viet Nam, the Danish government launched its Growth Market Strategy for Viet Nam – making Viet Nam one of only 10 countries for which the Danish government has developed growth market strategies. We also have a Strategic Partnership with Viet Nam in Green Growth and Climate Change. And in 2013, during the State visit of President Truong Tan Sang to Denmark, a broader Comprehensive Partnership Agreement was signed. The Comprehensive Partnership Agreement has elevated our co-operation to a new level. The agreement encompasses strengthened political dialogue and co-operation, trade and investments and green growth, as well as education, culture and research co-operation.
On that background, I look forward to forging a stronger partnership between our two countries in the years to come; between our governments, our companies and our people. — VNS