French Ambassador looks back 50 years of Việt Nam-France diplomatic ties

April 12, 2023 - 13:20
French Ambassador to Việt Nam Nicolas Warnery has granted an interview to Vietnam News Agency on the outcomes of bilateral cooperation between France and Việt Nam on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Việt Nam-France diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of their strategic partnership this year.
French Ambassador to Việt Nam Nicolas Warnery. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Hậu

HÀ NỘI — French Ambassador to Việt Nam Nicolas Warnery has granted an interview to Vietnam News Agency on the outcomes of bilateral cooperation between France and Việt Nam on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Việt Nam-France diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of their strategic partnership.

The Ambassador said President Jacques Chirac, during his State visit to Việt Nam in 2004, stated that the France-Việt Nam relationship is a “unique and strong” one formed on sincerity.

The visit of French President François Mitterrand in 1993 was the first by a western head of state to Việt Nam following the đổi mới (Renewal). He came at that time with a delegation of French officials and businesses with the aim to promote bilateral cooperation.

Since then, both countries have had extremely rich cooperation in economics and also in research, education, higher education, health, development.

He said beyond this very rich cooperation, the relationship was elevated to a strategic partnership a decade ago.

He wished the relationship will develop further to address common challenges, such as climate change and security challenges in the region.

According to the French ambassador, economic cooperation is one of the important areas of bilateral relations. There are commercial exchanges in both directions, cross investments and French businesspeople who set up their own companies and develop their activities in Việt Nam in line with Vietnamese law.

He voiced a belief that those relations will develop even further with the full and effective implementation of the European Union-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which came into force in 2020.

These economic relations are also based on major projects, the ambassador said, citing as an example the Hà Nội Metro Line 3, an emblematic project in which the Vietnamese State and the French Development Agency (AFD) are heavily involved.

Six French high-tech companies also engaged in this project. There are also others aimed at sustainable development, promoting the energy transition in Việt Nam, cooperation with the Việt Nam Electricity Group (EVN), and the modernisation of the Hoà Bình hydroelectric plant, which will provide a more abundant and less carbon-intensive source of electricity.

He also underlined the development of a sustainable and enduring infrastructure, including the future Hà Nội wholesale market, the renovation of the historical Long Biên bridge (originally called Paul Doumer Bridge after the governor-general of French Indochina and then French President, built in the early 20th century) and the development of sustainable transportation means, with not only the metro but also bus lines.

Asked how ties between the two countries’ localities and partners will thrive, especially since the 12th Việt Nam-France Decentralised Partnership Conference will soon be held in Hà Nội, Warnery said decentralised cooperation, by definition, involves municipalities, departments, regions on the French side, and provinces on the Vietnamese side.

It also involves universities on both sides, hospitals, schools, and sometimes associations. It is an extraordinarily rich cooperation, a friendship that unites peoples at all levels and in all areas. This cooperation will indeed be illustrated and highlighted very soon by the 12th Decentralised Partnership Conference that the French Embassy will co-organise with the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Hà Nội municipal People's Committee.

This conference is important because it is the first to be held after the COVID-19 period, which will allow local authorities to meet, resume direct dialogue that they have maintained online but in difficult conditions during the pandemic. This conference may also create new partnerships and, in general, discuss and address common interests together. The theme of this conference will be precisely on sustainable urban and rural development, heritage, culture, and tourism.

He said the theme of the 50th anniversary of Việt Nam-France diplomatic relations is "Shared Cultures," meaning that there are a lot in common between French and Vietnamese cultures. Their cultural cooperation is extraordinarily diverse and encompasses literature, debate, dance, music, cinema, photography, and many other fields.

The two countries are working to demonstrate this diversity in a series of interesting events. Two wonderful exhibitions were already held, one on the history of Long Biên Bridge last December, and another on the revival and conservation of the Temple of Literature. These are two of the most remarkable sites in Hà Nội.

During his official visit to Việt Nam, on December 9th, 2022, President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher, inspected the urban railway project line No. 3 in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

This month, he said the embassy will hold the "Balade en France" festival, a public event that includes French gastronomy, the culture of living together and conviviality. Organised just after the 12th Decentralised Partnership Conference, the event will bring French culture, culinary and arts to the streets for the general public in Hà Nội.

And then, there will also be very beautiful events, including a performance based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book "The Little Prince," a musical tale at the Hà Nội Opera House. There will be music, drawings from a comic book dedicated to "The Little Prince," and the text of this well-known novella.

And at the end of this year, a fashion event in HCM City is planned. A sound and light show at the Imperial Citadel of Huế, the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế is also expected.

Education is another field that has seen strong cooperation between Việt Nam and France, which encompasses from primary and secondary education up to the baccalaureate, and then education in higher education and research, including higher studies and university exchange programmes. The embassy will try to hold a series of events in schools with French teaching or bilingual programmes. University conferences and science days are also planned in different venues.

Regarding ties between France and Francophone partners in Việt Nam, the diplomat said France is very active in Francophone community such as the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), the Francophone University Agency (AUF), and other Francophone countries that are present in Việt Nam.

He described Hà Nội as the capital of Francophone community in the region since the headquarters of the AUF and OIF’s Asia-Pacific regional offices are located here.

“We actively promote the teaching of French at all levels of education," the French ambassador said.

"In fact, many young students start learning French at the university level, but they have progressed rapidly and become proficient in the language, allowing them to continue their studies in post-university programmes through in-place study abroad, studying abroad in France, or other French-speaking countries.”

On the occasion, he also appreciated Le Courrier du Vietnam, a French-language newspaper of the Vietnam News Agency, saying that he reads it very regularly and enjoys it a lot. — VNS