Ambassador of Norway to Viet Nam Grete Lochen: I will miss the ‘specialty’ of Tết

Ambassador of Norway to Viet Nam Grete Lochen talked with The World & Viet Nam Report about her emotional experience with her last Tết in Viet Nam.
(01.21) Đại sứ Na Uy tại Việt Nam Grete Lochen. (Nguồn: Đại sứ quán Na Uy tại Việt Nam)
Ambassador of Norway to Viet Nam Grete Lochen. (Source: Royal Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi)

“It’s all about connecting people”

Could you share some impressions on developments of Viet Nam – Norway bilateral relations in 2021? What are your expectations of the relations in 2022?

First of all, congratulations on Viet Nam’s excellent fulfilment of your two-year membership on the UN Security Council (UNSC). Your excellent performance in the Council as a proactive, professional and responsible member has elevated the country’s reputation in the regional setting as well as among the broader international community.

Norway worked with Viet Nam in the UNSC for only one year (2021), but we have been closely following Viet Nam’s actions in the Council since January 2020. Viet Nam has shown its proactive role in addressing various important issues of your priorities, including women, peace and security; mine action; and protection of civilians as well as enhancing the role of regional organisations such as ASEAN in regional peace and stability efforts. You have collaborated well with other members of the Council in the search for constructive and balanced solutions as well as in reaching broad consensus on resolutions and statements from the UNSC.

Norway enjoys close dialogue with Viet Nam on these issues, which we will continue after Viet Nam has left the Council both bilaterally and in multilateral forums such as the UN and ASEAN. As an active sector dialogue partner of ASEAN, Norway values our cooperation with Viet Nam as an influential and proactive ASEAN member state.

We also commend Viet Nam’s ambition to reach the zero-emission target by 2050 and to phase out coal power plants as announced at COP26 in Glasgow last year by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. When Viet Nam makes efforts to implement the country’s commitments, Norway and our businesses stand ready to support to ensure sustainable and greener economic growth.

Due to the Covid-19 challenges in 2021, we had to cancel some visits and postpone several activities including a big International Conference on Sustainable Ocean Economy and Climate Change Adaptation.

However, we still managed to hold numerous hybrid events to commemorate the 50 years of cooperation between our two countries. Among them, we would want to highlight the signing of Letter of Intent between the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on strengthening and developing cooperation in marine aquaculture industry on the sideline of a Webinar on developing Viet Nam’s marine aquaculture on industrial scale organized by the Norwegian Embassy, Innovation Norway, MARD and Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

(01.21) Thứ trưởng Thường trực Bùi Thanh Sơn, Trưởng Ban vì sự tiến bộ của phụ nữ Bộ Ngoại giao trao Giấy khen cho Đại sứ Na Uy Grete Lochen vì đóng góp cho công tác bình đẳng giới và nâng cao năng lực cán bộ nữ của Bộ Ngoại giao trong nhiệm
Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, head of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women, honored Norwegian Ambassador to Viet Nam Grete Lochen for her contribution to gender equality and enhancement of Ministry's female officers in 2020. (Photo: Tuấn Anh/Baoquocte)

Besides, there were other hybrid events successfully organized in the areas of waste management, marine littering and circular economy, as well as renewable energy, especially offshore wind. With our long expertise and world class offshore technology, Norway is very well positioned to share its experiences with Viet Nam.

Norway’s leading companies in renewable energy, both solar and offshore wind, are very interested in contributing to Viet Nam’s greener and cleaner energy transition as well as developing the local supply chain. This transition is key in terms of implementing Viet Nam’s ambitious commitments at COP 26.

The cultural area also saw two exciting hybrid events: the Grand Opening of the new MUNCH Museum in Oslo, Norway and an exhibition of art works by Vietnamese and Norwegian artists in the Norwegian residence in Ha Noi.

I was very happy to connect, although virtually, Vietnamese and Norwegian museums and artists as well as professionals and experts in the cultural field and hope that they can build up closer cooperation from there. It’s all about connecting people with each other!

Frankly speaking, in the face of challenges related to the pandemic, we had a great 2021. I believe this will serve as a solid foundation for even stronger cooperation between the two countries in 2022 both politically and commercially.

The unforgettable ‘specialty’ of Tết

This is going to be your 4th Tết in Viet Nam. Are you excited for this event? Is there anything you would like to explore in this special occasion?

Tết in Viet Nam is like Christmas in Norway – it is the time for family gathering. Ha Noi usually becomes more beautiful during Tết with different kinds of flowers, kumquat trees, and peach blossoms everywhere. I love to decorate my Residence with kumquat trees and peach blossom branches for every Tết.

Although Covid-19 has changed everything, it is interesting to notice that Hanoians, particularly young families, tend to travel more during Tết. They really want to spend their Tết holiday relaxing and having a good time.

(01.21) Đại sứ Na Uy Grete Lochen thảo luận với Đại sứ Nguyễn Nguyệt Nga và Đại sứ Lê Thị Tuyết Mai. (Nguồn: TTXVN)
Norwegian Ambassador Grete Lochen discussed with Ambassador Nguyen Nguyet Nga and Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai. (Source: VNA)

For me, Vietnamese Tết is a good time for reflection. This year, I am quite emotional because this would be my last Tết in Việt Nam. Time really flies. I will miss Vietnamese Tết very much with different colours and special tastes. That is why I’ve decided to stay in Ha Noi this year to celebrate Tết with my close friends. Drizzle is a nature’s “specialty” for Tết in Ha Noi. Although I will miss it, I still hope for some sunny days this year so that I can visit some pagodas and bike around the West Lake and Hoan Kiem Lake. It would be very relaxing.

Tết is around the corner. Is there anything you would like to say to the Vietnamese people?

Another new lunar year is coming. I wish Vietnamese people and our friends near and far first and foremost, the good health of the Tiger. I hope 2022 would be better for everyone with a higher rate of full vaccination and equal opportunities for everyone to succeed and prosper.

Chúc mừng năm mới Nhâm Dần!

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