The Palestinian Ambassador to Viet Nam, Saadi Salama, spoke to Viet Nam News on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Palestine National Day today.
How does Palestine celebrate its National day? And how did it originate?
Palestinian Ambassador to Viet Nam Saadi Salama.
January 1 this year marks the 45th anniversary of the launching of armed struggle by the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (FATAH), under the leadership of late martyr Yasser Arafat against Israeli occupation. Palestinians inside Palestine, those living in refugee camps outside Palestine as well as in the Diaspora commemorate with a strong determination.
They continue with their struggle to restore their national rights and goals. They will achieve this by re-uniting the people with their homeland and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with al-Quds al-Shareef (East Jerusalem) as its capital.
The state could have democratic pillars to let our people develop and keep up with modern developments - and to end ignorance. It would be a state giving the next generations a chance to live a free and dignified life in peace.
We are confident that our struggle will reach its objectives. It was started by the heroes of the 1936 Revolution and later by the great leaders who fired the first bullet in the contemporary revolution under the leadership of great leader and martyr Yasser Arafat from 1965.
Can you list the main achievements in bilateral relations between Viet Nam and Palestine? It has been a long time since a Palestinian leader paid visit to Viet Nam. Are there any political visits planned for 2010?
Palestine and Viet Nam have long shared strong and friendly relations marked by a similar historical experience and close friendship and solidarity during the struggle against foreign aggressors.
These ties grew stronger and led to a myriad co-operative undertakings in the political, socio-culture and economic fields as well as within inter-regional and international forums.
Both Palestine and Viet Nam joined efforts to develop bilateral relations for mutual benefits. Viet Nam has always been a strong supporter of our people, who will never forget the unchangeable stand by the people of Viet Nam.
Viet Nam was often a destination for Palestinian leaders. During 43 years of political relationship with Viet Nam, Chairman Arafat visited 10 times.
Viet Nam has always been and remains a focus for our people and its leadership. Its experiences are a shining example for peoples struggling for freedom, independence and national construction.
The Palestinian political leadership has always been keen to develop friendly and co-operative relations with Viet Nam. I am confident 2010 will witness many visits by Palestinian officials to Viet Nam.
The Asian-African Conference on Capacity Building for Palestine was held in Jakarta last July. How did Palestine benefit?
Palestinian children fly kites on the beach during a UN summer camp in Gaza City in July. It was a rare moment of respite fromthe war. — VNS File Photos
The conference was to mobilise technical assistance from partner countries and international organisations in support of the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state. It aimed at generating practical support, mainly through training in different areas needed by our people, now and in the future.
Participating countries committed to assist Palestinians, particularly in economic development, governance and infrastructure in line with a development plan that lays out a vision on how to build an independent Palestinian state. Several countries offered to help with programmes and projects.
The State of Palestine highly appreciates the participation and commitments made by Viet Nam at the conference. Viet Nam pledged dozens of fellowships for Palestinians to be trained in Viet Nam for a five-year period.
The sectors selected were based on the needs of the Palestinians, including governance, infrastructure, economics and social development. We are working with Vietnamese authorities to turn those commitments into reality.
However, neither economic plans nor international financial pledges supporting them can be considered sufficient solutions to the misfortune of an occupied and war-torn economy. These must be complemented by the enactment of relevant United Nations resolutions and the outcomes of the Annapolis and Paris conferences.
This involves building a fully-fledged sovereign and independent Palestinian state, akin to all other free and independent countries, that can start the process of economic reconstruction and catching up with the fast accelerating pace of globalisation.
In this regard, Palestine is grateful to all of its partner countries for their valuable contributions to achieving these goals, including the partners of the Asia-Africa Conference on Capacity Building for Palestine.
Before you became Ambassador to Viet Nam, you travelled here several times. Have you noticed many changes?
I came to Ha Noi for the first time in 1984 as a Palestinian student. I spent four years living side by side with the friendly Vietnamese people and sharing with them a lot of joy and suffering. In 1989, I returned to Viet Nam as second in command of the Palestinian Embassy here.
I witnessed the start of the renewal process. Maybe only the people who lived in Viet Nam during the early eighties can realise without any doubt the achievements it has made in building and development in the last 20 years.
The achievements reflect the tireless endeavour of the people coupled with wise leadership. This country and its people impress me a lot, particularly with the fast economic development.
Viet Nam has become one of the world’s great untapped emerging markets. Despite facing a strong impact from the global economic downturn, Viet Nam’s economy appears to stand the highest among Southeast Asian countries - and much higher compared to average, regional GDP growth.
Viet Nam is also moving ahead with integration into the world economy. I would therefore believe that Viet Nam’s efforts to become an industrialised country by 2020 will become a reality.
Do you have any specific plans to boost bilateral relations?
It is an honour for me to be chosen as Ambassador of Palestine to friendly Viet Nam. I’m aware of the heavy responsibilities and challenges during this important mission. I will work tirelessly to develop and strengthen the relations of solidarity and friendship between Palestine and Viet Nam at all levels.
The fertile political and economic climate that Viet Nam provides adds to my modest knowledge of Vietnamese language, culture and history.
This provides the engine and the motivation for me to make more efforts and take the necessary initiatives. I will work together with authorities in Viet Nam to draw up a series of bilateral agreements, which will be a strong basis for the continued development of relations at all levels
I am pleased at New Year to convey to the people and the leaders of friendly Viet Nam my warmest congratulations and best wishes for further achievements, success and progress on the path of the construction of their Motherland. —VNS
Palestine at a glance
Full Name: Palestine (The Occupied Palestinian Territories)
Area: 6,165sq.km, including West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
UN Resolution 181 (1947) define Palestinian national territory 11,100sq.km (accounting for 42.88 per cent of all Palestine).
Population: 10 million, of which 4.5 million live in Palestine and 5.5 million live in refugee camps out side Palestine.
Languages: Arabic. English is widely spoken
Religions: Muslim (96 per cent), Christian (4 per cent)
National Flag: Horizontal bands of black, white and green and, on the hoist side, a red arrow.