Vietnam’s foreign affairs activities have greatly contributed to national development, taking advantage of external resources and protecting national interests and territorial integrity.
In 2011, Vietnam embarked on a new strategy to gain a rapid and sustainable growth in order to become a modern industrial country by 2020. To this end, it has boosted its foreign affairs bilaterally and multilaterally through high-level overseas visits to neighbouring and regional countries as well as key partners of Vietnam by top Party and State leaders.
The country has also actively participated in regional and international conferences such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM), the Association of the Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) summit, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
These diplomatic activities have brought practical results, making relations between Vietnam and its key partners more substantial and effective, while raising Vietnam’s profile in the world arena, said Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
In the face of economic uncertainties, Vietnam has strengthened external relations to help tackle its difficulties. The country has paid attention to protecting its citizens and overseas Vietnamese and hosted a number of major international events to promote its role and position.
Strengthened foreign affairs have made a significant contribution to national achievements. In 2011, Vietnam welcomed more than 6 million foreign visitors, 18 percent more than last year. Foreign donors committed US$7.4 billion in ODA for the country in 2012 although it is listed as a medium income nation.
The European Union lifted its anti-dumping tariffs on Vietnamese footwear, and international non-government aid to Vietnam climbed to more than US$280 million focusing on health care, community development, rural, education, environmental protection and coping with climate change.
Notably, Vietnam’s foreign affairs have contributed to defending national sovereignty over seas, islands and continental shelf. The country has been persistent in resolving disputes through dialogue and peaceful negotiations consistent with international law. This has helped strengthen Vietnam’s friendship with other countries and win their support.
According to the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UN, Le Hoai Trung, in international forums, Vietnam shows its goodwill and determination to abide by international law in resolving sea border disputes, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and related agreements it has already signed with ASEAN.
“Vietnam hopes that all disputes will be peacefully resolved based on international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea", said the diplomat.
In 2011, there were a series of exchanges and meetings on fostering friendship and mutual understanding between Vietnamese and foreigners. Through these events, the international community has got a better view of Vietnam’s freedom of religion and human rights.
"Hostile forces attempt to abuse the religious issue to sabotage Vietnam, so it will be better if foreigners come to Vietnam to learn more about its tradition, culture and hospitality, as well as its efforts to restore pagodas, churches and religious activities,” said Vu Xuan Hong, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations.
“Whatever the distortions may be, they do not change the reality of freedom of religion, human rights and democracy in Vietnam", said Hong.
The diplomatic sector plans to reinforce diplomatic activities next year and boost its contributions to addressing regional and international issues under the motto of being a responsible member of the international community.
Vietnam’s achievements in foreign affairs in 2011 will serve as a strong foundation for the country to overcome challenges and successfully fulfill its targets next year.