Austria - Việt Nam: 50 years of diplomatic relations

October 26, 2022 - 08:26
On the 1st of December 1972, Việt Nam and Austria established diplomatic relations, with Austria having been one of the first Western European countries to do so.

Austrian ambassador Hans-Peter Glanzer wrote to Việt Nam News on the National Day of Austria:

On 26th of October, the National Day of Austria, we commemorate the regaining of Austria’s full independence and sovereignty in 1955. This year we are also celebrating a milestone for Austrian-Vietnamese diplomatic relations. On the 1st of December 1972, Việt Nam and Austria established diplomatic relations, with Austria having been one of the first Western European countries to do so. Throughout the last 50 years, Austria and Việt Nam have developed excellent relations in a broad spectrum of sectors, from the political to the economic as well as the cultural and scientific.

One prime example for the remarkable development of our bilateral relations is the economic field. Trade volume has increased tenfold since 2000 and attained a new peak in 2021, reaching an overall volume of 1.4 billion euros. This positive trend is further strengthened by Việt Nam’s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. It is also reflected in the opening of an office of the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy in HCM City in 2019.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn and Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Vienna, Austria, on September 28, 2022. — Photo BMEIA/Gruber

Currently, around 50 Austrian companies have branches in Việt Nam, yet there is vast potential still to be tapped for more Austrian investment in Việt Nam. We see prospects for increased cooperation in areas such as environmental technology, (renewable) energy, vocational training, tourism, agriculture, sustainable – in particular urban – transport solutions, and healthcare infrastructure. Furthermore, Austria has provided soft loans in the amount of 317 million euros for, among other things, the development of the health care sector and transport infrastructure.

The academic field is a further example of this well-established relationship. There are close to 30 cooperation agreements between Austrian universities and their Vietnamese counterparts. Many of them participate in the ASEAN European Academic University Network (ASEA-UNINET) which was founded in 1994 by both Austrian and Vietnamese universities.

A practical example for bringing together the economic and the academic dimensions was this year’s “Austria-Việt Nam Future Mobility Workshop” organised by the Austrian Embassy together with the Ministry of Transport and Hà Nội University of Science and Technology. The workshop gathered experts, authorities, companies, and stakeholders from Việt Nam and Austria to discuss and present technologies as well as (potential) solutions aiming at a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and easily accessible transport system, particularly regarding urban mobility. Sustainable modes of mobility, and thus the reduction of greenhouse gases, is one of the key factors when it comes to our joint efforts to combat climate change and move closer to climate neutrality.

Visits at a high political level, which are paramount for fostering and promoting bilateral relations, have been resumed; at the end of September, Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn visited Vienna and met Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, the Ministers for Economy and the European Union, as well as the President of the Austrian Parliament. A visit of the Austrian Foreign Minister to Việt Nam is planned for the first quarter of 2023.

We are faced with numerous challenges and crisis at a global level which, now more than ever, require cooperation and solidarity as well as a strong multilateral system more than ever. Austria and Việt Nam share the common goal of a rule-based order in international relations – we cannot allow the rule of law being replaced by the law of the jungle. Such a world poses a fundamental threat to us all.

Both countries also take a strong interest in disarmament. Austria and Việt Nam were amongst the first to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a historic milestone towards a world free of their immense danger. Moreover, our countries have also cooperated in the response to COVID; Austria donated vaccines to support Vietnamese authorities in their efforts to contain the pandemic.

We believe that culture is a very effective way of presenting the richness and diversity of our countries. Thus, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations with a series of cultural events. The Vietnamese Embassy in Austria organised a concert by musicians from the Việt Nam National Academy of Music in the Konzerthaus in Vienna. The cultural highlight of the festivities on the side of the Austrian Embassy will be a classical concert of the Việt Nam National Symphony Orchestra together with the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and two singers, one of which comes from the State Opera in Vienna. The concert will take place in the Opera House in Hà Nội at the end of November.

The commemoration of 50 years of diplomatic relations as well as the Austrian National Day are an excellent opportunity to take stock of the partnership between our two countries. I am confident that we will be able to further deepen our friendly relations for the mutual benefit of Việt Nam and Austria. — VNS