|Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ and President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher held talks in Hà Nội on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ on Thursday chaired the welcome ceremony for and held talks with President of French Senate Gérard Larcher in Hà Nội.
The Vietnamese top legislator stressed that this is the first high-level French delegation to have an in-person visit to Việt Nam since the two countries reopened after COVID-19 restrictions, and marks a significant landmark in bilateral ties, and especially legislative ties when the two countries are preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations (1973-2023) and 10th anniversary of Strategic Partnership (2013-2023).
The French guest said that this is the first visit to Việt Nam from a French Senate President since 2008 and also the first Asian visit since he took office, stressing the role of Việt Nam in France’s foreign policies in all fields.
Việt Nam also has an important position in the international arena, especially in the context of many challenges, conflicts and tensions in the region and in the world, he noted.
The President of the French Senate said that in the new situation, based on the agreements signed in 2003, French and Vietnamese legislative bodies can strengthen exchanges and cooperation in areas such as meeting sustainable development goals, energy, health, and education.
At the same time, he said that the French Senate shares Vietnamese National Assembly’s goals, and stands ready to cooperate on issues of mutual concern such as legislation, building the rule of law, and improving congressional professionalism.
Senate President Gérard said that the countries need to continue promoting cooperation between localities, given the great needs of both sides.
Hà Nội is set to hold the 12th France – Việt Nam Local Cooperation Conference in April 2023, which will be an opportunity for the two sides to strengthen strongly in this specific field of cooperation. The President of the French Senate hoped that during this visit to Việt Nam, they would jointly come up with proposals and measures to promote locality cooperation, and he would convey the messages to the localities of France.
He also remarked that many French businesses are hoping to invest or expand investment in Việt Nam especially since the EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect, adding that the two sides should discuss more on how to take advantage of this agreement.
Maintenance of regional stability in ASEAN, freedom of navigation, and economic cooperation are also areas that France pays great attention to, the French legislator noted.
NA Chairman Huệ said that Việt Nam always attaches importance to its relationship with France, one of the leading powers in Europe which plays an important role in the region and in the international arena. Việt Nam wishes to deepen the strategic partnership between Việt Nam and France, on political party channels, parliamentary and government diplomacy, and especially cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
The Chairman thanked the French parliament, Government and people for creating favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community in France to do business, live and become an important part of French society. He also expressed gratitude for France’s active support for Việt Nam in COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies, which helps Việt Nam to contain the outbreaks and start socio-economic recovery efforts, as well as thanked France for its support in training and improving the capacity of the team of doctors and medical experts – the pioneer frontline force against the pandemic in Việt Nam.
He suggested that France and the European Union continue to strongly support the stances of Việt Nam and ASEAN in the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as the East Sea) issue, and strengthen their role in the guaranteeing of freedom, security and safety of navigation and aviation, and maintenance of peace and stability in the region and in the world on the basis of international law.
Việt Nam wishes to tighten and further strengthen the friendly and cooperative relationship between the Vietnamese NA and the French bicameral houses – both the Senate and the House of Representatives; strengthen the exchange and sharing of experiences at all levels, between the specialised committees of the two legislative bodies, between the friendship parliamentary groups, the women parliamentarians groups, and the young parliamentarians groups in each country.
NA Chairman Huệ said that the NA is considering the amendments to the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment, Law on Pharmacy, the Law on Health Insurance, and working on the new Law on Medical Equipment, and hopes to get the French Senate’s support and experiences in these issues.
Regarding defence-security cooperation, stating that this is one of the pillars of strategic cooperation, Huệ wishes to promote cooperation with France through further delegation exchanges and effectively implementing signed specialised cooperation agreements and continue to engage in new fields of cooperation such as exchange and protection of confidential information, research on tropical diseases, etc.
Huệ also mentioned Việt Nam’s net zero commitments by 2050, which means that Việt Nam has huge demands in cooperation for climate change and just energy transition – areas that France can support.
Along with that, digital sovereignty, digital trust, security and safety of the national network are issues that Việt Nam wishes to learn from France, especially on global issues.
The Vietnamese top legislator asked the French side to soon ratify the EU-Việt Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) to draw in investments from both countries into each other, as well as resolve standing issues and expedite French-sponsored investment projects in Việt Nam, with stronger supervision role from the parliamentary bodies regarding the projects’ progress.
The Vietnamese parliamentary leader also asked the President of the French Senate and Senate to support and push the European Commission (EC) to soon remove the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing yellow card against Việt Nam, adding that in the past time, the Vietnamese side has made great efforts in amending the law and strictly enforced in this field.
Regarding culture and tourism, NA Chairman Huệ proposed that France create favourable conditions for organising cultural exchange activities of Việt Nam in France.
|President of French Senate Gérard Larcher on Thursday morning visited Long Biên Bridge in Hà Nội, which was built by the French. — Photo from the National Assembly of Việt Nam's website
Mentioning the French leader’s visit to Long Biên Bridge in Hà Nội (built by the French in the early 20th century), which now stands as a symbol of Việt Nam-France relations, the NA Chairman said that the French side pays attention to supporting Việt Nam in renovating the bridge into a pedestrian and a cultural space.
Agreeing with specific proposals, Larcher wished the two countries to overcome their historical legacies and build toward the future.
Sharing the same desire to restore Long Biên Bridge, the President of the French Senate emphasised the mutual ‘will and aspiration,’ and now the important and necessary thing at this time is for the two countries to embark on concrete steps together.
Issues that Việt Nam’s NA Chairman has raised like renewable energy, civil nuclear energy, energy independence, or education cooperation and handling of medical and healthcare problems are also high on France’s agenda, so the French side hoped to revise the bilateral parliamentary cooperation agreement to reflect the current concerns of two sides.
The French Senate President also expressed support for Việt Nam’s stances in the maintenance of freedom and stability in the region and the world, handling of disputes via peaceful measures, and respect for the United Nations Charter and international laws.
French Senate President Gérard Larcher invited NA Chairman Vương Đình Huệ to soon visit France, and the Vietnamese host gladly accepted. — VNS