Bulgaria and Việt Nam: Charting the next decade of partnership and solidarity

March 03, 2021 - 17:43

Việt Nam News introduces a story by Bulgarian Ambassador to Việt Nam Marinela Petkova to mark the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria (March 3).

Việt Nam News introduces a story by Bulgarian Ambassador to Việt Nam Marinela Petkova to mark the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria (March 3)

Bulgaria and Việt Nam are natural and close partners. Our decades-long relationship exhibits shared principles and goals for building a community of peace and prosperity for our peoples. Our lasting bilateral ties have been carefully cultivated and nowadays rest on common objectives, executed with equal strength on bilateral, as well as on multilateral level.

On March 3 Bulgaria celebrates its National Day, its liberation in 1878 from foreign domination, the end of a centuries-long struggle, which in its final stages attracted widespread international support. Therefore, it is not only an occasion to celebrate Bulgaria’s sovereignty and freedom, but also a day to reflect on the transformative power of solidarity, cooperation and common values.

Being one of the first countries to recognise Việt Nam’s right to independence, in 2020 Bulgaria and Việt Nam celebrated 70 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Thanks to Việt Nam’s successful effort in containing the spread of COVID-19 we were able to carry out a series of events to commemorate the anniversary as an important milestone and a testament to the endurance and resilience of a friendship that upholds its unique people-centred character.

Rallying the support of partners from state and local level institutions and agencies across Việt Nam and Bulgaria, with the help of the numerous active Việt Nam-Bulgaria friendship associations, the 70th anniversary was widely recognized through diplomatic visits and events in HCM City, Hải Phòng and Vĩnh Phúc, with B2B webinars, various cultural happenings, book publications, all culminating in the month of November with the inauguration by the Vietnam News Agency of the exhibition Việt Nam-Bulgaria: 70 Years of Friendship and Development and a friendship concert at the Hà Nội Opera House.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria Marinela Petkova (centre) with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Tô Anh Dũng (right) and the General Director of Vietnam News Agency Nguyễn Đức Lợi at the '70 years of Việt Nam-Bulgaria Friendship and Development' exhibition on November 16, 2020 in Hà Nội. Photo courtesy of the embassy

It was the turbulent historical events of the mid-20th century that brought Bulgaria and Việt Nam together, but it was through dedicated will and thoughtful commitment that our partnership managed to transcend tests of time to nowadays encompass pragmatic and hands-on solutions for applied diplomacy. Boasting an earnest bilateral political dialogue, consistently growing economic co-operation (yet to meet its full potential), and dynamic multi-sectoral collaboration, the current agenda of Bulgaria-Việt Nam relations has widened to include exchange on international developments and security concerns, economic engagement and socio-cultural matters, taking shape and projecting results on a larger world canvas.

While competing visions and agendas on the global order are at play now, the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe and demonstrated how interconnected and interdependent the world has become. It has overturned lives and livelihoods revealing some opportunities hidden in the conspicuous challenges, such as hastening the transformation of industries, digital connectivity, setting up regulatory standards and norms and pointing to the necessity of streamlining government policies for an enhanced rule-based multilateral framework.

Drawing on Việt Nam's membership in ASEAN and Bulgaria’s membership into the European Union we ensure and witness consistency and complementarity between our multilateral and bilateral diplomacy and co-operation. In December 2020 under Việt Nam's Chairmanship of ASEAN both organisations elevated their relationship to the level of strategic partnership, stipulating even deeper joint work on matters of politics, economy, security, connectivity, sustainable development, climate change and green growth. The institutionalisation of the EU-Việt Nam relations continued through the groundbreaking EU-Việt Nam FTA, the launch of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the signature of the Framework Partnership Agreement, to name just a few. 

Furthermore, the timely and effective measures for COVID-19 control taken by the Government of Việt Nam made the country a world role model, while in parallel as ASEAN Chair Việt Nam led the regional efforts in containing the pandemic and guiding the post-pandemic recovery. In Europe, Bulgaria participated in developing a common EU approach to ensure safe and free vaccination for all, and in co-ordinating on a 1.8 trillion euro recovery plan; the EU has committed more than 850 million euro to COVAX, working also to advance solidarity with international partners, including ASEAN and its member states, via 'Team Europe'. The objective, defined as a joint EU global vision, with the substantial financial resources allocated, is “to seek a post-pandemic recovery that is sustainable, human rights-based, inclusive, green, digital, and which strengthens gender equality and boosts human development, especially for those furthest behind."

Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria, Marinela Petkova, with distinguished guests at the ceremony to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Bulgaria - Việt Nam Diplomatic relations on November 17, 2020, at Hà Nội Opera House. Photo courtesy of the embassy

Now, the emerging new norms of co-operation are integral to seeking pragmatic co-operative solutions and a drive towards inclusive multilateralism, deepening our ties on key priorities and demanding truly strategic relationships. Tackling social and gender inequalities is also essential. In that regard promoting the role and participation of women, including along the Women, Peace and Security Agenda has a vital place in both Bulgaria’s and Việt Nam's foreign policies, with the alignment of objectives and initiatives between the programme document 'Hanoi Commitment to Action', adopted in December 2020, and Bulgaria’s 'Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan 2020-2025'.

Pushing further the multi-stakeholder partnerships between government, society, private sector, academia, scientific community the guidelines of the 13th National Congress of the CPV aim at increasing prosperity towards a high-income Việt Nam by 2045. Transcribed into Vietnam’s Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2021-2030 they outline areas of bilateral collaboration of common significance such as economic modernisation, innovation and promoting environmentally-friendly standards, private sector development, effective institution-building, resilience to climate change and social justice.


Bulgaria and Việt Nam’s relationship persevered because it has been continuously adapting and developing, nowadays doing so to match and navigate the ever complex body of entwined international challenges and changing geopolitical realities. Upheld by mutual understanding and true peoples’ friendship the story of the Bulgaria-Việt Nam partnership teaches a lot about solidarity, compassion, generosity of spirit and giving back. It is the story of how diplomacy and dialogue have been instrumental in influencing and strengthening peaceful state-to-state relations.

Decades of mutual support and respect give Bulgaria and Việt Nam the confidence and the ambition to continue to work together to promote growth and ensure sustainable and inclusive national development. While we prepare for another leap forward post-pandemic both countries should continue to act as effective partners in today's multipolar world, to propel the strategic communication through well-connected networks for dialogue – academic, cultural, social and business, and encourage their significance in state-to-state affairs. VNS

Children from Việt-Bun Kindergarten performing Bulgarian songs at the International Food Festival 2020, on December 6, 2020, in Vạn Phúc Diplomatic Compound, Hà Nội. Photo courtesy of the embassy