70th Anniversary of establishing the Vietnam - Russian Federation diplomatic relations and looking back the cooperation progress of Tien Giang province and Russian partners
The 2020 is a greatly special year for Vietnam and Russian Federation, commemorating 70 years of establishing the diplomatic relations (1950- 2020). Looking back the past 70-year itinerary, on January 30th, 1950 former Soviet Union, presently Russian Federation was one of the first countries in the world to recognize and formally establish the diplomatic relations with Vietnam, just only approximately 5 years since the date when the president, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed Declaration of Independence to found Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Ba Dinh Square. At that moment it was really not easy for a small and colonial country as Vietnam, just achieving its national independence and under the time of building its administration as well as fighting domestic opponents and foreign invaders to get a strong support of the powerful country in the world, it was actually unthinkable for many people. What was the reason? All of it was coming from the special emotions between two nations which was laid down nearly three decades earlier, when President, Ho Chi Minh firstly set his foot in Soviet Russia, finding a way to free Vietnam from the colonial and feudal dominance. Since then, the people of Vietnam and Russia, though geographically being in distance, have been very close to their souls and passionate patriotism, and have always accompanied and overcome many difficulties and challenges, transformed them together into the special traditional friendship between two nations until today.
The Vietnamese have always had in their mind about the active and kind assistance provided by the Soviet Union people to Vietnam during the time of its battle for independence and unification as well as in the period of reconstruction and defense of the country. Providing not only material and spiritual support, Soviet Russia still sent their experts to Vietnam for supporting with their warm feelings. In spite of hardship and danger of the years of fierce war they helped Vietnam in gaining its independence and unification.
During the period of its reconstruction and development thanks to huge support of Soviet Union by both in human and material resources, Vietnam quickly recovered and newly built many major industries from a intensively undeveloped agriculture country such as hydropower, road and bridge construction, mine exploration, iron processing, chemical production, oil and gas industry in the short time. Nowadays, every Vietnamese citizen clearly remembers and feels proud of their big projects and works of the regional size as Hoa Binh hydropower Station, Vietsovpetro Gas and Oil joint Venture, Thang Long Bridge..., which were supported by Soviet Union for recovering Vietnam's economy and modernize it as expected.
Stepping up to the beginning years of 90 decade of the previous century, facing unexpected great changes in its political system it was thought that the relations between two nations would be suspended. However, thanks to the solid foundation of reciprocal relationship and strong solidarity of two nations which have been developed through many generations, Russian Federation has well succeeded and developed the special friendship relations with Vietnam. The clear evidence of that well progress and nice tradition of two-nation relations was that Vietnam and Russian Federation had signed the Convention on the mutual partnership relying upon basic principles of respect of independence, sovereignty, territory integrity, non-interference in other's internal affairs, fairness and benefits in accordance with the international laws in 1994. This was a very important step for advancing to setting up the strategic partnership of two countries in 2001, showing Russian Federation as the first country in the world having the strategic partnership with Vietnam, creating the strong platform for Vietnam and Russia cooperation in the 21st century.
Following up this achievement and with the desire to elevate the reciprocal relations into higher level and effectiveness, both sides decided to up the mutual relations to strategic and comprehensive partnership as the highest level in the framework of diplomatic relationship in the world in 2012, marking the new stage in the history of two-country relations. Looking back on the past course of cooperation between Vietnam and Russian Federation, there are some highlights as follows:
- In terms of politics both sides have been maintaining meetings of high ranking levels and continuously diversifying dialogue schemes at various levels with highly political trust. Regarding the Russian Federation, since the time of stepping up to the term of President, Vladimir Putin had 04 times of visiting Vietnam: in 2001 by the chance of signing the common declaration of setting up the strategic partnership with Vietnam; in 2006 joining the APEC 14 summit conference; in 2013 after the event of handing over Kilo 636 submarine named Ha Noi to Vietnam; in 2017 joining the APEC 2017 summit conference in Da Nang city. In return, from 2018 until now all top leaders of Vietnam paid their visits to Russia such as: General Secretary, President Nguyen Phu Trong in 2018; Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc in May, 2019 and Chairwoman of National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan in December, 2019. Those of high ranking visits have well contributed in deepening the mutual relations and dealt with the problems of the region and the world interested by both sides.
- In terms of economic cooperation, if in 2001 the trade turnover of both sides reached only 500 million USD it raised up to 6.1 billion USD in 2018 and the structure of exchanged commodities has been diversified and scaled up year by year, of which the main exported goods from Vietnam to Russia were garments, computers, electronic units and their components, shoes, fisheries, cashew nuts, coffee...; and imported iron, fisheries, coal, wood, fertilizer... from Russia. In 2015, Vietnam became the first country to sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, of which Russia is a key member, contributing in promoting trading exchanges up to 30% year-on-year. Regarding investment, in 2018, Russia was ranked 24th among 129 countries and territories having their investment in Vietnam with 123 projects and the registered capital of 932 billion USD. Conversely, Vietnamese corporations have invested 22 projects in Russia with the newly registered and additional capital of 3 billion USD. Of which, there is a project of raising cows and milk processing of 02 billion USD by the TH-True Milk Group in Moscow and Kaluga, which has become the bright milestone in investment cooperation between Vietnam and Russia. The energy field has also considered as the traditional strategic and fruitful cooperative sector, bringing remarkable revenues to budget of Vietnam and Russia. Besides keeping continuation of the mutual cooperation in the framework of Vietsovpetro joint Venture, two countries established new joint Ventures as Rusvietpetro, Vietgazprom, Gazpromviet to expand the gas and oil cooperation in Vietnam, Russia and the third country. Both sides signed and ratified the Convention and the Protocol on the gas and oil cooperation in the framework of Rusvietpetro and Vietsovpetro with the objective of creating favorable conditions for them to have fruitful operation in the upcoming time.
- Looking at the cooperation in defense, security and military technology, both sides have well succeeded their earlier partnership tradition and continuously expanded cooperative activities in the recent years. In addition to exchanges of delegations to visit each other (including the high ranking delegations), both sides has set up and sustained the mechanism of consultation, discussion on the matters of cross-national crimes, terrorism, drug and human trafficking; supported Vietnam in training human resources, modernizing the military industry; supplied equipment, weapons and other necessary assistance of the military technology. Thanks to these mechanisms both countries have had opportunity to share their points of view on the security of the world and the region as well as other issues commonly interested by them; and simultaneously to further the cooperation activities in defense and discuss measures in details to promote the mutual defense partnership into newly higher level.
- In reference to the cooperation in education - training and science - technology, it can be said that this is a far fundamental element of the mutual relations. Since the time of setting up the diplomatic relations until now there have been ten thousands of Vietnamese students, practitioners, candidates to come to Russia for their study and research. When coming back home these students have much contributed in the process of construction and development of the country and many of them became top leaders of Vietnam. Presently, the Russian Government has provided around 1.000 scholarships to Vietnamese students, practitioners, candidates. According to the data collected by Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training there are around 6,000 Vietnamese students to follow their study in Russia presently; and conversely, there are also 20-30 Russian students having their study in various Vietnamese universities annually. Accompanying the cooperation in education and training Russian partners have also intensified its collaboration in science and technology thanks to its spearhead technological transfer as biotechnology, new material production, airspace, nano, stem cells, plant and pet gen decoding... In the recent years Vietnam and Russia research institutes have had collaboration in performing 150 different research projects with around 200 scientific writings publicized on the famous international magazines.
- In terms of culture, tourism and people to people exchanges, quoting the presentation of Chairwoman of National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan at the plenary session of the Russian Federation Council in December, 2019, she confirmed that it is not easy to find a country in the world with which Vietnamese people has deep and warm emotions as with Russia. All of it is coming from not only positive support provided to Vietnam and the mutual politico-economic cooperation, but also the same sentiments in their souls and people to people feelings, which have been showed through their culture exchanges and connection. The bright and glorious culture foundation of Russia has been transmitted and integrated into Vietnam through well-known novels with sound ideology and art characteristics by famous authors as Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Chekhov, Lev Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Sholokhov... and various artificial types of performance as ballet, opera and circus. The intensive people culture of Vietnam has also been discovered by Russian people thanks to the annual artificial performance exchanges and some Vietnamese writings being translated into Russian language. Regarding tourism, currently Russia has become the biggest market for Vietnam tourism among the European countries with over 600 thousands of arrivals to come to Vietnam in 2018. Conversely, there are over 100 thousands of Vietnamese people living and studying in Russia and they always think of their fatherland and attach themselves to Russia as their second home country which founded the strong string to link two people and two countries.
In reference to Tien Giang province the cooperation process with Russian partners took place very earlier, since the time of uniting two parts of the country: Northern and Southern. There were some generations of provincial officials to be sent to former Soviet Union for studying and practice; and the program of teaching Russian to students was early launched in the whole province serving for the comprehensive cooperation with Soviet Union in 80 decade of the previous century. There were 04 training courses of Russian teachers for the secondary schools, opened previously in Tien Giang University. However, after the political changes in the beginning years of 1990 the cooperation activities were suspended. Looking back the process of cooperation between Tien Giang province and Russian partners there were some highlights as follows:
- Firstly, in terms of delegation exchanges, in 2017 Mr. Aleksey Vladimirovich Popov - Russian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh city took his visit trip to call on Mr. Chairman of Tien Giang People's Committee for discussing how to strengthen the mutual relations in the upcoming time, especially how to export fruits and fisheries to Russian and provide scholarships to students and candidate to study or do research in Russia. Annually, the provincial People's Committee assigns or approves 2-3 delegations to come to Russia for academic study, research, promoting investment, trading and tourism.
- In terms of investment until now there was only one joint venture in the province with the investment capital of 500 thousands USD, being so moderate compared to the potentials of both sides.
- Regarding export, in 2019 the trade turnover reached 17.2 million USD, of which the export of Tien Giang was about 16.6 million USD, increasing 22.4% compared to 2018 with the main products as garments, rice, fruits, fisheries, bronze tube...; and the import was 600 thousand USD, increasing 2.7% compared to 2018 with materials for making shoes.
- Looking at tourism, Russian tourists mainly choose sea tour to Nha Trang, Da Nang, Binh Thuan, Phu Quoc - Kien Giang province. There is small number of Russian tourists to come to Mekong delta, including Tien Giang province for ecotourism.
The reality of 70 years of cooperation showed that the Russian Federation - Vietnam relationship has been stably developing in accordance to basic benefits of two nations. In the circumstances of the complicated changes of the world and the region situation, shrouding various risks and challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, it is very important to strengthen the strategic comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and Russian Federation for protection of independence and sovereignty and stable economic development for each country as well as contributed in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity of the world and the region. Privately, regarding to Tien Giang province it is very necessary to reinforce the cooperation with the Russian partners because this is one of the most powerful state in the world with extra capacity in science and technology, education and training, military; and the potential exported market for the provincial key products in the upcoming time./.
Translated by the Department of Foreign Affairs