|President Vladimir Putin
MOSCOW (VNS)— Ahead of my third visit to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, I would like to take this opportunity to directly address Viet Nam's public and share some thoughts on the future of our bilateral relations.
Russian-Vietnamese friendship has stood the test of time, having lived through the numerous tragic events of the 20th century and drastic changes in the world as well as in our countries. The main thing has always remained the same, however – respect towards each other, traditions of confidence and mutual assistance and the ability to appreciate the selfless support of partners that will never betray us.
In this context, let me quote the famous words of President Ho Chi Minh: "When you drink water, think of its source". I consider that phrase to be a spiritual instruction to the present and future generations of the citizens of our countries. One should always remember our common history and everything that unites us. This guarantees the continuity and stability of future-oriented relations.
We are happy with the major achievements reached by Viet Nam on its path towards important economic and social reforms. Russia addresses complex national issues as well. We believe that active involvement in the integration processes, at both global and regional levels, is a powerful resource for development. We attach particular importance to co-operation with the Asia Pacific states, among which Viet Nam is one of the leading centres of growth.
The positions of our countries on issues relating to the global agenda are similar in many aspects. Together, we seek answers to new challenges and threats. We uphold the rule of law in international relations and advocate that no alternative political or diplomatic tools should be used for resolving disputes, and that every state has a right to choose its own path of development.
All these factors determine the intensity of the Russia-Viet Nam strategic partnership which we can rightly call comprehensive. Last year, bilateral trade increased by 20 percent and amounted to US$3.66 billion (according to Russian statistics). We expect that it will reach $7 billion as early as 2015 and increase up to $10 billion in 2020.
The signing of a free trade area agreement (FTA) between the member states of the Customs Unions and Viet Nam would contribute to achieving these objectives, which corresponds to the logic of political and economic integration in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations on the FTA are underway, and we hope to successfully complete them.
The energy, oil and gas sectors have traditionally played a key role in the development of Russia-Viet Nam industrial and investment cooperation. For instance, our leading joint venture Vietsovpetro has accumulated the unique technological expertise of working on the continental shelf. Over the years, the company has produced 206 million tonnes of oil and its total profits are in the tens of billions of dollars.
Other companies such as Rosneft and Gazprom have increased their presence in Viet Nam. Their projects relate to the production of hydrocarbons, modernisation of refining capacities and supplying liquefied natural gas from the Russian Far East.
Let me emphasise that our oil and gas co-operation is two-way and reciprocal. Rusvietpetro is an example of a successful joint venture in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous district. We also expect a lot from another, the Gazpromviet joint venture which has started the development of oil and gas fields in the Orenburg region and other Russian territories.
Our co-operation in energy goes far beyond hydrocarbon production. Russia is helping Viet Nam to develop a nuclear industry which is a totally new sector for the country. Rosatom will be responsible for the construction of the first Vietnamese nuclear power plant in the province of Ninh Thuan. The first and second nuclear units are scheduled to be launched in 2023 and 2024. Plans are also being discussed to jointly construct a Nuclear Science & Technology Centre.
Peaceful use of outer space and Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation system, air and rail transportation development, engineering, mining, banking and public health seem to be very promising areas of co-operation. The goal of the above projects and initiatives is to improve our investment, technology and industrial collaboration.
Our military and technical co-operation has taken a totally new dimension. It is no longer limited to export supplies, steps are being taken to launch in the licensed production of advanced military equipment with the assistance of Russian companies in Viet Nam.
We have always been proud of the traditions of humanitarian co-operation in the fields of education, science and culture. It is meaningful that this year, Viet Nam (except for the CIS countries) has been allocated the highest quota for staff training in Russian educational institutions. Today about 5,000 Vietnamese citizens receive education in Russia, and about 2000 of them study under inter-State agreements.
I should underline the joint activities of our scientists, including the many years of work at the Russia-Vie Nam Tropical Research and Technological Centre. Specialists all over the world highly appreciate the results of its applied and fundamental research.
My visit takes place during the Days of Russian Culture in Viet Nam programme. We are pleased to see that our Vietnamese friends are truly interested in our art. In their turn, Russian citizens are waiting for the Vietnamese cultural delegation to visit Russia. I am sure that the Days of Ha Noi in Moscow in late November this year will be a great success. Such exchanges have already proved their importance, and we intend to continue this practice.
The number of Russians visiting Viet Nam shows the willingness to learn more about the rich history and culture of the Vietnamese people. Last year, this number doubled, and for the first nine months of this year, it has grown by 66 per cent to beyond 200,000 people. I think that this trend will continue, taking into account the successful development of tourism infrastructure in Viet Nam.
It is difficult to enumerate the areas in which Russia and Viet Nam do not develop fruitful co-operation. I expect that the future high-level negotiations in Ha Noi will be constructive as usual and will give new momentum to the strategic partnership between our States and peoples. — VNS