|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (left) and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.— VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
BRUSSELS (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung held talks with the President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday in the framework of his working visit to Belgium and the European Union.
The PM also had meetings with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Parliament (EP) Martin Schulz and Chairman of the EP's group of parliamentarians for friendship with Viet Nam Jan Zahradil.
During their talks, the Vietnamese government leader and the EC President expressed satisfaction with the development of Viet Nam-EU relations, particularly the economic-trade ties and development co-operation.
They compared notes on measures to further enhance the relations across the fields of politics, economy, science-technology, energy and climate change.
PM Dung asked that the EU complete the ratification of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Co-operation (PCA) between Viet Nam and the EU while providing Viet Nam with technical assistance to effectively implement the agreement.
Regarding the Viet Nam-EU Free Trade Agreement, the PM suggested that pending the official signing and ratification, the two sides define priority fields for early implementation. He added that Viet Nam hopes for EU technical assistance in enforcing the FTA and EU's recognition of Viet Nam's market economy status at the time the agreement becomes effective.
PM Dung appreciated the EU's development assistance for Viet Nam in the past, particularly the increase of aid to 400 million euros for the 2014 to 2020 period. He suggested support be directed to the fields of institutional capacity, public governance, health care, education-training, science-technology, the environment and climate change, while the provision of official development assistance should be maintained through bilateral and multilateral channels and regional co-operation programmes.
The two sides agreed to work together to push the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT-VPA) and a financial agreement for the EU Justice and Legal Empowerment Programme (EU JULE).
The Vietnamese government leader valued the cooperation between Viet Nam and the EU at international organisations and forums such as the United Nations and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and hoped that the two sides will continue co-ordination in areas of mutual concern including water resource management, food security and ASEAN connectivity initiative. The EC President concurred with PM Dung that the regular exchange of delegations, especially high-level ones, should be maintained while cooperation will be enhanced in priority fields. He proposed that Viet Nam, with its active role in the ASEAN, supports the EU in strengthening EU-ASEAN relations.
Jean-Claude Juncker affirmed that the EU supports the stance of Viet Nam and ASEAN on settling disputes by peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, not using or threatening to use force, avoiding acts that further complicate the situation and intensify tension. In particular, involved parties should commit themselves to not militarising the East Sea while seriously and fully observing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) towards the early formation of a Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC).
After the talks, PM Dung and the EC President witnessed the signing ceremony of the Official Statement on the conclusion of the negotiations on the Viet Nam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
Speaking after the ceremony, the two leaders affirmed the EVFTA is an important legal document regulating the economic, trade and investment relations between Viet Nam and the EU, creating a free, transparent and favourable environment for enterprises and investors from both the EU and Viet Nam.
PM Dung emphasised that along with other FTA agreements Viet Nam signed before, the EVFTA will open up a huge trade space between Viet Nam and 55 partners, including all G-7 countries and 15 G20 countries.
Viet Nam is ready to act as a bridge for EU enterprises to penetrate deeper into the vast and potential markets of the ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific.
The Prime Minister also recommended that the two sides increase the exchange of delegations and consulting mechanisms; complete the approval of the PCA in early 2016 and promote cooperation in sectors of Viet Nam's priority and where the EU has advantages such as information-telecommunications, science-technology, health, environment, finance, climate change and others.
In his meeting with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, PM Dung asked the Council to support the increase of all-level delegation exchanges, especially at high-ranking levels, the approval of the PCA, the early signing and ratification of the EVFTA, and the EU's recognition of Viet Nam's market economy status at the same time with the EVFTA's enforcement.
Donald Tusk said the European Council will continue its advocacy of Viet Nam-EU co-operation in all spheres and promised to actively promote the realisation of the Vietnamese PM's proposals.
Meeting with EP President Martin Schulz, PM Dung highly valued the sound development of relations between the Vietnamese legislature and the EP, particularly delegation exchanges, which he said have greatly contributed to the enhancement of the two sides' comprehensive co-operation.
He called on the EP to quickly finalise procedures for the PCA approval, ratify the EVFTA as soon as possible after the deal is inked, and accelerate the EU's recognition of Viet Nam's market economy status at the same time with the EVFTA's enforcement.
He also called for the EP's greater voice in the maintenance of peace and stability in the world, and in Southeast Asia in particular.
Martin Schulz expressed his delight at the strides seen in bilateral relations and between the Vietnamese National Assembly and the EP. He also pledged to urge the EP to soon approve the PCA and EVFTA.
Talking to the Chairman of the EP's group of parliamentarians for friendship with Viet Nam, Jan Zahradil, the PM hailed the establishment of the group on November 11 as a meaningful event as it coincided with the 25th founding anniversary of the Viet Nam-EU diplomatic relationship.
He said he hopes the group will promote its role in bolstering the collaboration between Viet Nam and the EU as well as between the Vietnamese National Assembly and the EP.
The leader also suggested that the group's members support the EP's expeditious ratification of the EVFTA after the pact's signing, the EU's recognition of Viet Nam's market economy no later than the EVFTA's enforcement, and the ratification of the PCA.
Jan Zahradil said his group will make concerted efforts to realise the PM's proposals and solidify the Vietnam-EU ties across the board.
On the occasion of the visit, PM Dung, European Council President Donald Tusk, and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker issued a joint press statement on the Viet Nam-EU relationship. This is the first time a European Council President and European Commission President have released a joint statement with a Vietnamese leader.
In the press statement, the two sides voiced pleasure over the impressive progress in bilateral relations, especially the conclusion of the negotiations of the EVFTA, and added that they look forward to the conclusion of the ratification process of the PCA by the EU.
They also agreed to boost cooperation in such realms as health care, education-training, energy infrastructure, environment and green growth.
The leaders also reiterated the importance of promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea. They support the settlement of territorial and maritime disputes through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
They agreed on the critical importance of refraining from the use or threat of force, of abstaining from unilateral actions, of stepping up the implementation of measures to build up trust, ease tensions and prevent conflicts. In particular, all relevant sides must commit to not pursue or have militarisation actions in the East Sea.
The two sides also support the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the waters (COC).
Later the same day, PM Dung left Brussels, concluding a successful working visit to Belgium and the EU. — VNS