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France offers nuclear power know-how

Update: July, 13/2009 - 00:00

France offers nuclear power know-how

(14-07-2009)

French ambassador Herve Bolot talks to Viet Nam News on the occasion of France’s National Day today.

Ambassador Herve Bolot

Can you briefly list the important events marking bilateral relations between Viet Nam and France since your arrival in Viet Nam as French Ambassador?

One of the most important events, only two months after I was posted here, was the visit to France by Viet Nam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

This was a very important visit because the highest authorities of our two countries decided to reinforce our relationship in every field. High level visits took place, and the relationship at the political level is alive and well.

Of course, relations in the last two years presented many other features, notably the Presidency of the EU. I also remember the launching of Vinasat by Ariane 5, the European launcher, from French Guyana. We also organised many events with our Vietnamese partners, in various fields (medicine, investment and teaching), and many cultural events took place, such as the restoration of parts of the Cham Museum in Da Nang. Most recently, I attended the inauguration of Viet Nam’s first satellite image receiver, which received financial support from the French Government.

France last year granted 1.5 million euros as a supplement to the 30 million euros (US$47.5 million) loan previously granted by the French Agency for Development to the HCM City Investment Fund for Urban Development to finance public infrastructures. How do you assess the effectiveness of the grant?

The grant is effective. The HCM City Investment Fund (HIFU) is in the process of preparing and publishing calls for proposals for consultants who will reinforce HIFU’s capacity in investment project assessments and help with management and training.

In another interview with Viet Nam News, you mentioned the low rate of disbursement of France’s aid in Viet Nam. The disbursement rate was 69 per cent in 2000-05 and only 34 per cent in 2006. Have you seen any improvement in the past two years?

The disbursement rates you mention seem to have been calculated on a different basis. Let me just say that France is the second bilateral donor to Viet Nam and, since 1989, has been very involved through ODA in supporting Viet Nam in meeting its development challenges in regards to environmental protection, social development, climate change issues and infrastructure improvement. In this regard, it is expected that our new commitments for 2009 will surpass the 220 million euros that were pledged at the CG meeting of December 2008. Having said that, the ODA disbursement rate is crucial in terms of how to bring effective and rapid benefits to Vietnamese citizens. In this respect, the French Development Agency and the French Directorate General for Treasury and Economic Policy together achieved in 2008 a disbursement rate of roughly 13.3 per cent, which I would qualify as fair and quite similar to those of other main donors in Viet Nam.

How are cultural exchanges between France and Viet Nam progressing?

Co-operation in this field has been shown with "French Season 2009", which aims at disseminating contemporary creations in all fields. Everywhere in Viet Nam, in Ha Noi and HCM City, Hai Phong and Hue, Da Nang and Can Tho, we have proposed a dozen events every week and will participate in about 20 international events every year, be it the international festival in Hue, the "French Spring" or any of a number of European Festivals. More and more French artists have come to Viet Nam to introduce French culture to Vietnamese audiences. We will also support important cultural events, and in particular, we will support the Millennium anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi. And the Embassy won’t be the only one doing so: French and Vietnamese businesses will give generous support, as well as French local authorities, who are very active in the visual arts and street performances. We will soon begin preparations for "French Season 2010", so let me invite your readers to participate in these diverse and lively exchanges.

Notre Dame de Paris. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh

France has said that it will support Viet Nam in training about 10,000 doctors from now to 2020. What activities will be carried out to realise this goal? What are opportunities to broaden co-operation in education?

France is already supporting Viet Nam in training PhDs and will specifically support 2,000 PhD’s in the framework of the programme, "20,000 new PhD’s for Vietnamese Universities by 2020". On one hand, 400 PhD’s (40 each year) will be trained as teachers, researchers and managers for the new Ha Noi University of Sciences and Technology (HUST), and will become scientists in the main fields of HUST as well; on the other hand, a Vietnamese and a French university will create a partnership to bring forward a specific project, for instance building or developing a laboratory.

France has continuously supported Viet Nam in research and the care of HIV/AIDS patients since the 1990s. How do you evaluate co-operation in this field? Are there any new activities planned for the future?

France at a glance

Area: 551,500sq.km
Population: About 64 million
Capital: Paris
Language: French
Currency: Euro
National Flag: Blue, white and red

Over the years, we have built an outstanding relationship in this field, so close that it led Nobel Prize of Medicine recipient Mrs Barr-Sinoussi to again visit Viet Nam a few months ago, for an ANRS (French National Agency for Scientific Research) seminar. ANRS has had a close working relationship with the Pasteur Institute and, with a view to develop clinical research, partnerships have been forged with several hospitals in HCM City. The principal lines of research are virology, clinical research developed through a trial on the treatment of adults co-infected with HIV and tuberculosis and studies on the diagnosis of tuberculosis in children.

ESTHER (the Network for Therapeutic Solidarity in Hospitals) also supports partnerships that enable us to structure care around the hospital and social networks on a long-term basis. In Viet Nam, ESTHER’s programmes are implemented by partners such as hospitals and research centres in France and Viet Nam. ESTHER strives to improve conditions by enhancing technical platforms and the supply of hospital equipment, to support national care strategies for people living with HIV/AIDS, to promote and support the implementation of a continuous care strategy and to take part in joint actions with international organisations to help provide coherent interventions and increase long-term access to care and treatment.

France is also well-known for producing nuclear energy, which accounts for 85 per cent of the country’s power, or reduce dependence on oil. Can France share with Viet Nam its experiences in this field?

You are right to mention that France has the highest per capita equipment rate. It also has the best safety record in the world. France is ready and willing to share its experiences in nuclear power. Two weeks ago, major French players in this field paid a visit to Viet Nam to exchange and discuss ongoing co-operation. The research agency (CEA), the nuclear safety and radioprotection agency, the operator Electricity of France (EDF), AREVA and others were here to meet all the Vietnamese stakeholders. They presented their experiences in building and operating nuclear facilities. We do hope that co-operation in this field will deepen in the near future. —VNS

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