Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung addressed German statesmen and scholars on the challenges to peace, security and development in the Asia-Pacific and the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership within the Asia-Europe overall relations at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin on October 15 before leaving for Milan, Italy to attend the 10th Asia-Europe Summit.
Following is the full text of the PM’s remark at the foundation.
“Excellency Mr. Klaus, Vice Chairman of the Koerber Foundation,
Excellencies German Parliamentarians,
Excellencies Ambassadors, Charge d’Affairs and representatives of diplomatic missions,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Koerber Foundation for honouring me with this opportunity to address this audience of leading politicians and scholars of Germany on the challenges to peace, security and development in the Asia-Pacific and the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership within the Asia-Europe overall relations. Our meeting today is hosted in such a place that incubates novel ideas and philosophies on dialogue for peace, cooperation and mutual understanding as what Mr. Koerber had longed for when he established the Foundation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Peace, cooperation and development remain the prevailing trend. The world economy has overcome the crisis and is now recovering toward sustainable development. However, challenges and concerns do not seem to subside as rapid, complex and unpredictable changes are taking place around the globe. Increasingly serious threats have arisen from armed conflicts, territorial disputes, the use and threat of force, the rise of terrorism as well as non-traditional security challenges such as climate change, epidemics, and water security, among others.
In recent years, the Asia-Pacific has emerged as an engine for global economic growth and integration and a new economic and power centre that accounts for nearly 55% of global GDP and plays significant role in shaping a future world order. The region, however, still faces many problems such as escalating tension in the Korean Peninsula, territorial disputes in the East Sea and East China Sea, and especially trust deficiency – the key factor that makes peace and stability in the region not as durable as we expect. Peace, security and development of the Asia-Pacific region, if being threatened and worsened, would induce negative impacts and consequences worldwide. And an environment conducive to peace, security and development in the region will bring about happiness and welfare for us all.
These risks and challenges call for close cooperation, high sense of responsibility and much effort from every state, region and the entire world. No single state, even the major powers, can afford to handle them alone. To ensure durable peace and stability, we believe that the common responsibility should be shouldered and goodwill should be shown by all states. Each country, big or small, apart from promoting their national interests, should also pay due attention to global common issues and legitimate interests of others. This understanding is fundamental for countries to strengthen friendship, promote cooperation mechanisms, build trust and resolve disagreements by peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law. Countries need to further uphold the role of multilateral institutions and join hands to build a stable and durable regional architecture that provides a basis and main impetus for cooperation and generates capacity to respond to challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Vietnam is fully aware that its peace and development are closely attached to peace and prosperity of the entire region. It is therefore Vietnam’s top priority to secure a peaceful and stable environment for national development and improve people’s life. At the same time, Vietnam plays a responsible role in addressing the regional and global challenges.
Since the launch of reforms nearly 30 years ago, Vietnam has successfully transformed the planned economy into a socialist-oriented market economy and from a poor, less-developed, and war-torn country into a middle-income and developing nation. In 25 years (from 1986 to 2010), Vietnam’s GDP growth rate averaged 7% per year. Even in the testing time of the global financial crisis and economic recession, Vietnam still managed to sustain the GDP at the rate of 5.6% in 2011-2013. In 2014, our GDP is estimated to grow at 6% and GDP per capita is expected to exceed US$ 2,000. The macro-economic and socio-political stability were maintained and social security was ensured. Furthermore, we have attained several UN MDGs ahead of schedule. Vietnam continues to improve the rule-of-law state, strongly promote people’s right to democracy and upgrade the market economy’s institutions. We are now speeding up economic restructuring, transforming growth model, enhancing productivity, efficiency, competitiveness and sustainable development in order to achieve an average GDP growth of 6-7% in 2016-2020.
Vietnam has actively integrated itself into the region and the world. In this course, economic integration is the focus and key driver. Vietnam has become a WTO member since 2007. So far, we have signed eight FTAs and we are working hard to build the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. We are also negotiating six high-standard FTAs, in which the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) are the most important agreements. Besides challenges, international integration is opening up immense opportunities for Vietnam to promote development and reform, and engage more effectively in the global production and value chains.
Today, Vietnam, as a responsible member, has actively participated in the work of the multilateral organizations and forums like United Nations, ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, WTO. We have recently joined the UN Peacekeeping Operations, and been entrusted with a number of key positions at the UN Human Rights Council and the IAEA Board of Governors. Circumstances and conditions today enable Vietnam to move from the approach “active participation” to “taking the initiative in designing and shaping the rules of the game”, and to uphold its responsible role in regional and world affairs.
We continue to pursue the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multi-lateralization of its external relations. Along that line, Vietnam is a friend and reliable partner of all nations for peace and development. We will spare no efforts to build friendship, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with all partners, especially neighboring countries, ASEAN members, strategic and comprehensive partners, and traditional friends.
It is Viet Nam’s consistent policy not to form alliance with one country against another. While firmly safeguarding our legitimate interests, we earnestly wish to work with other countries to build the strategic trust – a mutual and permanent trust, on the basis of the UN Charter and international law, respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and peaceful settlement of disputes, equal and mutually beneficial cooperation for peace, stability, cooperation and development of the region and the world.
We welcome any policy of major powers on the Asia-Pacific region, which respects international law and regional institutions without power politics, imposition, without infringing upon national independence and sovereignty, and promotes equal and mutual-benefit cooperation for peace, security and development in the region.
As an active member of the ASEAN Community coming into being next year, Viet Nam pays special attention to the future of the regional architecture and ASEAN’s centrality. The current architecture is still evolving and in transition with various multi-layered mechanisms and forums such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+). To ensure lasting peace, security and development in the region, Asia-Pacific needs a durable architecture with a set of principles, rules and institutions that are feasible on the basis of international law. In that architecture, ASEAN needs to continue with its central role in leading, connecting and building strategic trust between and among all relevant partners.
An issue that recently has drawn close attention is the complex developments in the East Sea (a.k.a. South China Sea). Peace, stability, maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea are in the common interests of all countries both within and outside the region. The East Sea now hosts the international trade route where as much as 50% of global shipments pass through, and most of them between Europe and East Asia. The recent instability and tension indicate that such common interests can be only secured if all countries, especially the claimant states, seriously abide by international law, 1982 UNCLOS, and refrain from unilateral acts that further complicate the situation, refrain from the threat or use of force, fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and work together for early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC).
Building on the tradition of “peace and friendship” and its consistent foreign policy, Vietnam always pursues peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law and regional norms of conduct. While reaffirming its position to firmly safeguard our sacred national sovereignty and territory in accordance with international law, we have always exercised restraint in our attitude and actions, and used every opportunity to de-escalate tension, restore trust, promote friendly cooperation and dialogues to find a fundamental and long-term solution to the East Sea issue.
The world public opinion, many governments, international organizations, UN, EU, G-7 and ASEAN have recently voiced their strong support for Vietnam’s righteous position based on international law on the East Sea issue. I would take this opportunity to express the sincere gratitude to friends all over the world, from Europe, including Germany, for your impartial and constructive views that substantially contribute to peace and security of the region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Having undergone the political and economic turbulences in Europe and the world, Germany underscored its increasingly critical role at both regional and global scales. Germany not only proves to be the leading economic engine that has pulled the European economy out of crisis, but also displays a central role in critical matters relating to politic, security and peace maintenance in Europe and the world. Vietnam supports a powerful Germany that plays an active and responsible role in handling matters of world peace, security and development.
Vietnam and Germany are distant geographically and different in historical and socio-economic backgrounds. However, our two peoples managed to rise above difficulties to be able to live in peace and development and enjoy excellent friendship. The German people supported Vietnam throughout the struggle for national independence, reunification and development. Our bilateral relations have been making steady progress, especially since the establishment of the Strategic Partnership in 2011. Next year, Vietnam and Germany will celebrate the 40 th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The Strategic Partnership is evident in the regular exchange of high-level visits, dialogues at different levels, substance and efficiency of our cooperation that covers all areas of economic, trade, investment, development cooperation, politics, diplomacy, defence and security, culture, education and training, science and technology, and people-to-people exchange, and also our close coordination at important multilateral forums including the UN, ASEM, ASEAN-EU.
Germany is now the biggest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe as two-way trade turnover amounted to nearly US$8bn, more than 20% of the Vietnam-EU trade figure. Germany is also among the biggest ODA donors to Vietnam. We welcome investment inflows from Germany with “high-quality” FDI projects that introduce advanced, innovative, and environment friendly technologies. SIEMENS, Mercedes-Benz, B.Braun, Allianz, Bosch are some of the major brands that have operated in Vietnam. German universities are hosting more than 4,000 Vietnamese students and research fellows. We have a community of over 100,000 Vietnamese in Germany, and more than 100,000 Vietnamese who speaks German language in Vietnam, including generations of German universities’ alumni. All of them have made important contributions to the prosperity of our two countries and our thriving partnership.
Today, Madam Chancellor Angela Merkel and I had very fruitful talks. We agreed on major directions for the strategic cooperation and concrete action plans to deepen and add efficiency to the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership. We will focus on five key areas, namely strategic political cooperation; trade and investment; justice and legislation; development cooperation and environment protection; education, science and technology, culture, communication and social exchanges. Vietnam will work closely with Germany to raise the level of bilateral dialogues, enhance the substance of cooperation for sustainable development, especially in areas where the two sides have advantages and demands such as energy, green and clean technologies, manufacturing industry, public transport, finance and banking, consumer goods, agricultural and fishery products.
Next year, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam-Germany diplomatic relations and the 20 th anniversary of the signing of the Vietnam-EU Framework Cooperation Agreement. I am glad to note that every single stride in the Vietnam-EU relations bears the mark of the Vietnam-Germany cooperation. Vietnam appreciates the goodwill and effort of Germany during the negotiation, conclusion and ratification of the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) as well as in the ongoing EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) negotiations. On 13 October, in Brussels, Mr. Barroso- the EC President and I agreed on the direction for concluding Vietnam-EU FTA negotiations with optimistic conviction for signing the agreement in early next year.
The upcoming 10th ASEM Summit in Milan, Italy will discuss different issues of strategic cooperation between Asia and Europe as well as at global level. In that process, the ASEAN-EU cooperation is the nucleus and engine of the Asia-Europe cooperation. Closer cooperation between Vietnam, an active ASEAN member, and Germany, a key EU member will provide impetus for the growth of cooperation between ASEAN and the EU, and between Asia and Europe for peace, stability and prosperity of both continents. And this will open up more opportunities for the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership to flourish.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Early next year, there will be an exhibition of the photo contest sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Visitors can see photos of two-generation or even three-generation Vietnamese families who used to live, study, and work in Germany with emotional stories of Vietnam-Germany cordial friendship. Even in Vietnam, people can go to the Goethe Institute in Hanoi and, in the near future, to the German House in Ho Chi Minh City to study German language and explore German culture. Others may go there simply to see again images of Germany where they once lived among the German friends. Those are powerful evidences of the humane links between the ordinary and peace-loving people of our two nations. This is also the foundation for the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership to thrive endlessly.
Thank you for your attention./.”-VNA