|Italian President Emanuela D’ Alessandro visited Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) in Hanoi in November 2015. Photo: laodong.com.vn|
The visit to Italy by Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang represents a major milestone in outstanding bilateral relations between Vietnam and Italy and confirms their deeply rooted commitment to strengthen their ties, said Diplomatic Advisor to the Italian President Emanuela D’ Alessandro.
The advisor made the remarks in her interview granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Rome on the threshold of President Quang’s visit to Italy.
The following is the full text of the interview.
1. The President of the Republic of Italy, His Excellency Mr. Sergio Mattarella, paid a State visit to Vietnam in November 2015, what is your impression of the visit and about Vietnam?
The State visit President Mattarella paid last year to Vietnam was his first ever to Asia and outside the Euro-Mediterranean area. Indeed, it bore testimony to the strategic importance of Vietnam and South East Asia in today’s world. Your country and your people greeted President Mattarella with extraordinary warmth and hospitality. Such wholehearted welcome has underlined the many similarities our two countries and peoples share, despite the geographical distance. The unique bonds connecting all segments of our societies, and our peoples, truly defined the visit, and contributed to its astounding, historic success, a success that goes well beyond the political meaning and business focus of the visit.
President Mattarella’s meeting at Van Mieu with students of the Italian Department of Hanoi University embodied the spirit of the Visit: drawing our young generations closer and building awareness of the extraordinary potential of our countries in a rapidly changing world. Embracing our diversities, promoting and building on our similarities, enhancing a comprehensive cooperation agenda based on knowledge and shared best practices, working together as partners for a truly sustainable growth. These were the key messages our President focused upon and shared with our Vietnamese friends during his long stay. The extraordinary wide range of cooperation areas covered, as well as the very diverse program followed, speak for themselves. The message could not be clearer. Vietnam is a linchpin of stability, a growing economy, an open door towards a vast neighborhood, a bustling society with which Italy intends to develop a stronger and more effective and productive relationship.
2. The President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, His Excellency Mr. Tran Dai Quang will pay a State visit to Italy on November 21st – 24th, how would you assess the importance of this visit?
The visit by H.E. Tran Dai Quang represents a major milestone in our outstanding bilateral relations and confirms our deeply rooted commitment to strengthen them. The growing number of visits in both directions testifies to that. In 2013, the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, visited Italy, while in 2014 Prime Minister Renzi chose Vietnam for his first trip to Asia. In the last few months, the Italian Ministers of Infrastructures and Justice visited Vietnam.
These high-level contacts are of the utmost importance. They deepen our respective knowledge, create an official framework to give further momentum to our bilateral cooperation and new opportunities for contacts at all levels of society. Three important events will take place in the context of President Quang’s visit: the Economic Joint Commission, the Scientific Joint Commission and a Business Forum with the participation of major companies. This will contribute to further enhance the bilateral relations in the crucial economic and scientific sectors.
3. Italy has an important role in Europe and in the world, and has implemented a dynamic foreign policy, where would Italy collocate Vietnam in his policy?
Vietnam is a strategic partner, a driving force in the Asia-Pacific region, a stable, fast growing regional power and a responsible member of the international community. Italy sees Vietnam as a pivotal player in a region vital for world commerce, international security and a rapidly growing economic powerhouse. Briefly, it is a force to be reckoned with and that will shape the Region’s development for the near future.
Unsurprisingly, Italy and Europe believe that having a strong relationship with Vietnam is essential. Consistently, we endeavor to develop such relation further, to uncap its enormous potential, and to bolster, for the benefit of both our people, the recent, unparalleled growth in economic ties.
Vietnam is Italy’s first trade partner among ASEAN nations and an important market for Italian companies, and a destination that enchants a growing number of Italian tourists. Bilateral cooperation has broadened and expanded in a satisfactory manner to new sectors such as defense and justice.
Furthermore, as responsible members of the International Community and of our respective regional blocks – the ASEAN and EU- we also share a common approach and growing cooperation on global issues such as climate change and sustainable development. I am certain that our countries will play an important role in implementing the Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
These are facts that soundly corroborate the evidence of a truly dynamic and effective relationship, which – I am confident – will represent an example for Europe and Asia alike.
4. Vietnam and Italy have celebrated the 43rd anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 3rd anniversary of a bilateral strategic partnership in 2016. How would you evaluate the bilateral ties between the two countries in the past years in various areas?
Our bilateral ties have been expanding constantly in every sector and the two Action Plans 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 for the Implementation of the Strategic Partnership have registered a great success. We are now in the process of finalizing the 2017-2018 edition.
Bilateral trade has doubled over the past 3-4 years, reaching 3.8 billion Euro in 2015. A growing number of Italian companies has successfully settled in Vietnam, investing, transferring technologies and contributing to major infrastructural projects. The creation of joint ventures will be further supported by an Italian cooperation soft loan. Cultural and scientific cooperation increased dramatically in the framework of a bilateral agreement and under specific Executive Protocols: Italian and Vietnamese Universities signed almost 100 cooperation agreements; our shared love for culture and tradition represents a solid foundation to enhance cooperation initiatives and events in these fields. We welcome the interest of Vietnamese youth in Italian culture and language, as witnessed by an increasing number of Italian courses in Vietnamese universities, including a full-fledged Italian Studies Department in the Hanoi University. I truly believe that the level of our cooperation is outstanding and unique.
We will therefore work together to ensure that the truly astonishing results reached in the last years serve as a basis for building an ever stronger relation, an authentically strategic one.
5. What are the core areas that the two countries will concentrate on for further strengthening bilateral co-operation in the incoming time? And where the two countries can and should improve in order to further develop and promote the strategic partnership in the incoming years, especially in trade and economic cooperation?
We will surely continue to expand our bilateral ties and deepen cooperation in all sectors, in the framework of the Action Plan 2017-2018.
We look forward to further increasing our bilateral trade in a balanced way, in order to ensure mutual benefits and to encourage more Italian companies to invest in the Vietnamese market.
Vietnamese policies will be crucial in this regard, in order to offer incentives to Italian investors. Moreover, the upcoming EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement will give a strong impetus to our economic partnership. We hope to expand our presence in the infrastructure sector, including urban infrastructure and railways, so that cutting-edge Italian technology can also contribute to Vietnamese growth. We will work to expand further our cultural and scientific ties under the new Protocols.
We would also like to enhance our recent dialogue on defense, justice and global issues. Our reciprocal support to the respective candidacies to the UN Security Council will represent a good foundation to exchange experiences and find common ground on an increasing number of global issues. Finally, we believe that both Italy and Vietnam, as major supporters of regional integration and cooperation, can work together to promote EU-ASEAN cooperation in all sectors, including regional security fora.
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