Vietnam, Thailand and Lithuania: Visits to explore cooperation potential
|Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara in Hanoi. (Photo: VNA)
Since taking office as Foreign Minister in early September, Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha - Nukara has chosen Vietnam as the first ASEAN country to pay official visit, while Mr. Gabrielius Landsbergis is the first Lithuanian Foreign Minister to visit Vietnam since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.
In addition to the "first" factor demonstrating that these countries value cooperation with Vietnam, there is also an interesting coincidence in timing when both Foreign Ministers visited Vietnam from October 25-26 and delivered the keynote speech at the OECD-Southeast Asia Ministerial Forum 2023 with the theme “Sustainable and Quality Investment: New Momentum for OECD Southeast Asia Partnership”.
This also means that the host country's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son had two busy days when he welcomed two guests from two different continents at the same time.
Close friend, important partner
Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara's visit to Vietnam took place not long after he was approved by the King of Thailand for the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In an interview with the World & Vietnam Report, Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Phan Chi Thanh emphasized the "extremely important and special significance" of the first visit of a high-ranking representative of the new Thai Government to Vietnam on the occasion of the two countries celebrating 10 years of strategic partnership (2013-2023).
The visit is a continued affirmation of the commitment and determination from both sides for the Action Program to implement the Vietnam -Thailand Enhanced Strategic Partnership for the period 2022-2027 and the closer coordination between the two countries at the regional and international forums.
At the receptions and talks with the guest from the Land of Smiles, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Le Hoai Trung and Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son all welcomed Mr. Parnpree for choosing Vietnam as the first visiting country in a new position and affirming that this visit will contribute to deepening the Vietnam-Thailand strategic partnership.
With regards to bilateral cooperation, the two sides expressed their delight to witness cooperation in all fields between the two countries developing deeply and substantially on the basis of mutual respect, trust and mutual benefit, thus, agreed to bring bilateral relations to new heights.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh proposed that the two countries continue strengthening the exchange of high-level delegations at all levels across the Party, State, Government and National Assembly channels, effectively deploy bilateral cooperation mechanisms, especially the joint Cabinet Meeting Mechanism chaired by the two Prime Ministers.
Appreciating the fact that Thailand continues to be Vietnam's largest trade partner in ASEAN and the ninth largest foreign investor in Vietnam, the Prime Minister proposed that the two sides coordinate and strive to increase trade turnover, sooner reaching the target of 25 billion USD in a more balanced way.
Regarding Thailand's creation of favourable conditions to establish Vietnam Street and the Vietnam Research Center in Udon Thani province, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son has made a number of suggestions such as the two sides continuing to cooperate to preserve and promote the value of President Ho Chi Minh Monument Site and Vietnamese temples in Thailand; support Thai and Vietnamese language teaching programs in each country; encourage the building of cooperative relationships and twinning between localities of the two countries, creating a solid foundation to promote people-to-people exchanges and business connections.
Expressing his joy for the first official visit to Vietnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara affirmed that Vietnam is a close friend and one of Thailand's most important partners in the region. Appreciating Vietnam's socio-economic development achievements, the Thai Deputy Prime Miniser, Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the two economies still have a lot of potential and ample room to strengthen cooperation.
Expressing the desire to effectively implement the "Three Connections" strategy between the two countries, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha - Nukara agreed to increase the exchange of high-level delegations and deploy important bilateral cooperation mechanisms, promoting cooperation in politics, economics, tourism, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, connecting air and road traffic, etc.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Badiddha - Nukara said that Thai businesses believe in the potential, investment environment and desire to expand investment in Vietnam; suggested that the Vietnamese Government continue to support Thai investors in implementing projects in some localities of Vietnam, including energy projects. The Thai Government will create favorable conditions for foreign businesses, including Vietnamese businesses, to expand investment in Thailand.
Regarding regional and international cooperation, the two sides affirmed their close coordination at multilateral and regional mechanisms; coordinate with other ASEAN countries to strengthen solidarity, unity and the central role of ASEAN; strengthening cooperation in developing the Mekong sub-region, managing and using the Mekong River water resources sustainably; affirming the importance of maintaining peace,stability, security, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, on the basis of international law, including UNCLOS 1982.
Important milestones create new momentum
The presence of Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis in Hanoi is an important milestone in Vietnam-Lithuania relations, as affirmed by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh during the reception on October 25. At the talks on the same day, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son emphasized that the visit has definitely created new momentum to further strengthen the relationship between Vietnam and traditional friendly partner in Central Eastern Europe.
|Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son ad Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis hold talks in Hanoi, on October 25, 2023. (Photo: WVR/Tuan Anh)
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister expressed his impression for Vietnam’s socio-economic development achievements and increasingly important position in the region and in the world. Lithuania always values and wishes to strengthen relations with Vietnam, a priority partner in Southeast Asia, he said.
For many Vietnamese people, Lithuania is not a familiar name as a popular tourism or study abroad destination. The country is small (area of only 65,301 km2 and population of about 3.3 million people). However, Lithuania has made many "look up" with its many successes in the process of integration, economic transformation, technology application, research and application of renewable energy.
As "revealed" by Vietnamese Ambassador to Poland and concurrently accredited to Lithuania Nguyen Hung, the land known as the "startup nation" in Europe ranks seventh in terms of e-government standards in the "old continent" and technology companies derive about 99% of their revenue from abroad, making the most important contribution to GDP.
More surprisingly, Lithuania is building a large European leading technology campus in the capital Vilnius, aiming to become the new technology capital of the Baltic region, spanning 55,000 m2 and attracting 5,000 staff. Lithuania currently has more than 600 study programs, which have been taught in English according to European standards, with long-standing higher education institutions, innovative programs at affordable tuitions.
Therefore, it is easy to understand why the contents of cooperation in high technology, information technology, digital transformation, education - training along with agriculture, culture – tourism, etc, are emphasized in the meetings. The Head of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered Vietnam as one of the potential markets in Southeast Asia; proposed to create more favourable conditions for Lithuanian agricultural products such as beef, poultry, eggs, fertilizer, etc, to enter the Vietnamese market.
To create a catalyst for deeper cooperation activities, the two Ministers agreed that it is necessary to soon promote the exchange of delegations at all levels, especially high-level ones, and continue to maintain the political consultation mechanism between the two Foreign Ministries, coordinate to effectively implement the Cooperation Agreement between the two Ministries which was just signed during this visit.
The two sides agreed to closely coordinate and support each other at multilateral forums, including the United Nations, ASEM and ASEAN-EU.
With a GDP of 75.88 billion USD (2022), Lithuania - a member of the eurozone, is the largest economy among the Baltic countries. In particular, this beautiful country has actively supported Vietnam in the process of negotiating and signing the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and was one of the first EU member states to ratify Vietnam-EU Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).
At the meetings, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Minister Bui Thanh Son acknowledged Lithuania's support and proposed to encourage the remaining EU member countries to soon approve EVIPA, as well as contribute their voices to recognize the effort. Vietnam's efforts in fully and seriously implementing the recommendations of the European Commission (EC) on sustainable fisheries development and urging the EC to soon remove the "yellow card" (IUU) for seafood products of Vietnam.
Consolidate and strengthen multifaceted cooperation
Deputy Prime Minister Parnpree Bahiddha - Nukara's "greeting" visit to neighboring ASEAN country took place just nearly two months after being appointed to his new position (September 2023), while Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis' visit to Vietnam took place not long after Lithuania "launched" the Indo-Pacific Strategy (July 2023).
In that context, two official visits taking place at the same time show the desire to promote further cooperation with Vietnam of the neighboring country in Southeast Asia as well as the country of the Baltic region.
By welcoming these two distinguished guests, Vietnam continues to consolidate and strengthen multifaceted cooperation with other countries, opening up new impulses and opportunities to take advantage of support and resources for economic and social development of the country.