On the occasion of Sweden's National Day on June 6, Viet Nam News presents a piece by Swedish Charge d'Affaires Gunnar Klinga
The National Day of Sweden is celebrated on the 6th of June in memory of the day when Gustav Vasa was elected King of Sweden and Sweden became a nation state in 1523. Even though Swedes are proud of their country, this day was not of great significance before the year 2005, when it became a public holiday. Today, Swedes come together at this time of the year when summer is almost at its peak, there is daylight from 2 o'clock in the morning to 11 at night and there are celebrations all over our country.
|Gunnar Klinga, Swedish Charge d'Affaires in Viet Nam |
Sweden has a long tradition of extensive development co-operation with Viet Nam and we think that our partnership has been very fruitful. I believe that we can say with pride that we have done a good job together, from large infrastructural projects like the Bai Bang Paper Mill and the Olof Palme (National) Children's Hospital in Ha Noi in the early years, to today's co-operation within the areas of democracy, human rights, anti-corruption and environment and climate change. It is also with pride that I note the findings of a recently published independent evaluation of the 40 years of development co-operation between Viet Nam and Sweden. The main conclusion is that Swedish development co-operation contributed to lifting millions of Vietnamese out of poverty. The evaluators highlight Sweden's "special" relationship with Viet Nam as decisive in forging what they consider to be a successful co-operation programme, that was responsive to the development needs of the country, effective and efficient in delivery of aid, and that assisted in providing the conditions for sustained poverty reduction, as demonstrated by Sweden's support to Viet Nam's extensive economic reforms. The report clearly shows that Sweden has been appreciated for this.
Today, as Viet Nam is a middle-income country it is time to start thinking about our future co-operation in a time when official bilateral aid is no longer the primary building block of our relations.
We have seen how our relations have changed, and continue to change in character over time – from mainly development co-operation 40 years ago to an exchange of mutual benefit, with partnership co-operation and commercial relations in both directions. The continued work of the Swedish Embassy in Ha Noi will facilitate our work to continue to develop, broaden and deepen our relations.
|Up north: Swedes celebrate Swedish National Day. — Photo courtesy Imagebank.sweden.se |
Sweden was the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations with Viet Nam in 1969, making this year our 43rd anniversary. We hope that our long relationship will make it possible to continue our dialogue on questions which are important for the continued development of Viet Nam, towards a modern knowledge-based economy where reforms and increased openness play an important role.
I would like to take the area of trade and investment as a good example. We have seen a sharp increase during the past years in our bilateral trade. The value of our trade volume has doubled in the last five years and more than tripled since 2001. Many well-known multinational Swedish companies have been very successful in Viet Nam for many years and have contributed to this remarkable achievement. There are now more than 80 Swedish companies present in Viet Nam from just 50 in 2005.
During the past decades thousands of Swedes have come to work and visit Viet Nam. And many Vietnamese have travelled to my home country to get more experience in many different areas. Through this many close ties have been established between Sweden and Viet Nam.
So, I believe it is true to say that during more than 40 years of ties we have together developed a close and longstanding friendship. It is also true that our two countries are far in distance but we are close at heart. I wish you all to know that Sweden will stay and hope to celebrate many more national days here in Viet Nam. — VNS