Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn speaks to the media ahead of the first National Conference on Foreign Affairs on December 14 about the contributions of foreign affairs to Việt Nam’s achievements in external affairs and the cause of safeguarding and developing the country in the new era.
Looking back at our country’s revolutionary history, how has the foreign affairs sector contributed to the overall achievements of Vietnamese foreign policy, especially during the đổi mới (Renewal) period?
The diplomatic sector has a very proud tradition and was directly trained by the Party and Uncle Hồ from the early days of the revolutionary government. Diplomacy is a front-line force which takes advantage of the great and generous support of people around the world for the cause of national liberation, reunification, construction and defence.
During the đổi mới process, the diplomatic sector together with foreign-based agencies have gained important achievements and left various outstanding hallmarks, contributing to building the fortune, potential, position and international prestige that our country has never had before.
First and foremost, through consistent implementation of the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralisation, diversification, proactive and active international integration, for the sake of the nation, the diplomatic sector has expanded and deepened relationships with a lot of partners.
From breaking the siege and embargo, we have created and consolidated an open and favourable external situation for the đổi mới process.
As of today, Việt Nam has established diplomatic relations with 189 countries and connected with more than 230 countries and territories in terms of economic-trade relations. We have also developed strategic partnerships and comprehensive partnerships with 30 countries.
Secondly, Việt Nam has taken advantage of the favourable international environment to mobilise external resources for socio-economic development. The foreign affairs sector has given advice to the Party and the State on the policies of participating in international economic linkages, closely coordinating with relevant ministries and sectors to promote negotiations. So far Việt Nam has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including new generation FTAs.
The foreign affairs sector has worked with relevant agencies to promote and improve the efficiency of external economy, especially expanding export markets, attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Official Development Assistance (ODA) and developing tourism.
Works concerning overseas Vietnamese have mobilised great resources of the Vietnamese community abroad for the country’s construction and defence.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, by promoting health diplomacy and vaccine diplomacy, the foreign affairs sector has taken advantage of timely international support in terms of vaccines, medical equipment and treatment drugs, making an important contribution to COVID-19 prevention, control and safe adaptation to the pandemic.
Thirdly, in peace time, diplomacy has taken a leading role in creating and consolidating a peaceful and stable environment, at the same time, working with national defence, security sectors and all-level sectors to firmly protect sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
The diplomatic sector has closely coordinated with relevant sectors and localities to make efforts to negotiate and build a border of peace, friendship and development with neighbouring countries, and firmly defend the country’s sovereignty over seas and islands.
Fourth, the foreign affairs sector has proactively and actively promoted comprehensive and extensive international integration, thereby constantly improving our country’s international position and prestige. We have successfully hosted numerous major international conferences and fulfilled various important international responsibilities such as being the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the rotating chair of ASEAN, the host of the ASEM Summit, APEC, the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, and the US-DPRK Summit.
Cultural diplomacy and external information have vigorously and successfully promoted the image of Việt Nam which is rich in culture and innovation; mobilised UNESCO to recognise many Vietnamese heritages as world cultural heritages, contributing to preserving national cultural identity and promoting socio-economic development.
The 13th National Party Congress set out the vision, goals and development direction of the country until the mid-21st century. What will the foreign affairs sector do to continue making important contributions to the cause of national development and defence in the new period?
With the country’s new position and power after nearly 35 years of đổi mới, our whole country is striving, with high will and determination, to realise the aspirations, vision and development goals set out in the 13th Party Congress. Together with the whole country to strive for the successful implementation of the 13th Party Resolution, as a key and pioneer force on the external affairs front, the foreign affairs sector will continue to make efforts to perform key tasks as follows.
First, the sector will disseminate the implementation of the 13th Party Congress Resolution and the Party and the State’s foreign policies and orientations. After the National External Affairs Conference on December 14, we will organise the 31st Diplomatic Conference and the 20th National Foreign Affairs Conference to thoroughly grasp the spirit and disseminate the content of the 13th Party Congress’ Resolution and conclusions and directions of the Party and State leaders at the National External Affairs Conference to the entire sector as well as to local foreign affairs agencies.
On that basis, the diplomatic sector will set out specific and practical plans, programmes, tasks and measures on the implementation of foreign affairs policies in order to make important contributions to the successful implementation of the 13th Party Congress Resolution.
Second, the sector will synchronously and effectively deploy tasks to maintain a peaceful and stable environment along with resolutely defending sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and mobilise external resources to meet the needs of socio-economic development and raise the country’s position.
We will continue to expand and deepen foreign relations with the focus on neighbouring countries, important partners and traditional friends, promoting Việt Nam’s role in important multilateral mechanisms such as ASEAN, UN, APEC, and Mekong sub-regional cooperation.
Third, the sector will combine political diplomacy, economic diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, external information with overseas Vietnamese work and citizen protection; make full use of favourable international factors, international commitments and agreements, including signed FTAs in order to mobilise external resources, effectively combined with domestic resources to meet the rapid and sustainable development of the country.
In the near future, the foreign affairs sector, along with relevant sectors, will continue to foster cooperation and make use of international community support in pandemic prevention and control, promote recovery and socio-economic development.
Fourth, we will strengthen a close combination between political, economic and cultural diplomacy, and coordination between Party, people-to-people, defence-security, and socio-economic diplomacy in order to promote the synergy of the whole political system and the whole country in performing foreign affairs tasks.
Fifth, in order to successfully implement the foreign policy orientations and tasks assigned by the Party and the State in the future, it is necessary to build a comprehensive, modern and strong diplomatic sector.
The core is to develop a body of diplomatic staff equipped with strong political, moral, ideological mettle, who are highly talented, capable, professional and modern in style, who are innovative, sharp and proactive, in order to go beyond the scope of the nation and achieve regional- and world-class results. VNS