President of Vietnam Nguyen Minh Triet (retranslated): Mr President Medvedev, Russian and Vietnamese friends,
This is a very important day. And we have very good weather today too. On behalf of our state and the Vietnamese people, I would like to formally welcome Mr President of the Russian Federation, who has come to Vietnam on his first official visit. Yesterday, he participated in the ASEAN-Russia summit.
Your visit fills us with strong emotions, and your arrival here demonstrates Russia’s desire to cooperate and assist Vietnam. As we know, during the fight for independence and the struggle against the American aggressors, the Russian people helped us. And today, Russia also continues to support and assist us in developing our nation.
Among the many Vietnamese leaders who are present here, there are many who studied in Russia. The fact that both sides are represented today by so many high officials evidences that we have very good relations indeed.
During our talks, Mr President and I discussed many issues pertaining to cooperation in all areas, including politics, the economy, culture, education, and science. We also addressed matters of cooperation on many key projects. At the same time, we reaffirmed our unalterable friendship and our determination to further promote our relations of strategic partnership, so that they implacably advance and strengthen. Vietnam will do everything to ensure that our friendly ties with Russia always progress.
Our two nations have confirmed the desire to cooperate in the energy sector. The fact that we signed today a cooperation agreement to build a nuclear power plant in Vietnam shows that there are special, very trusting relations between our countries. It also witnesses the Vietnamese side’s confidence in Russian technologies. Furthermore, the agreement on cooperation in the oil and gas sector also illustrates our desire to continue working together in exploiting oil and gas deposits.
Moreover, Russia expressed its intention to maintain cooperation between our oil and gas companies in Russia, and we are also striving toward this kind of cooperation in third countries.
The two sides are also intensifying their economic and investment cooperation. Vietnam would like to see more investments into the Vietnamese economy. Furthermore, we are discussing and reviewing the possibility of establishing free trade zones between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Finally, we aim to have a turnover of 3 billion dollars by 2020.
Thus, we have enormous potential for cooperation. We are also intensifying cooperation in security policy. Russia is our powerful supporter in this regard.
There are many other spheres where we can cooperate as well, including science, technology, medicine, and healthcare. So we signed many respective agreements today.
I would like to once again reiterate our great appreciation for Mr President Medvedev’s visit to our country. We are grateful to Russia for the help that it has offered to us in the past, as well as its support today. We truly value Russia’s ever strengthening role in the international arena. Russia was able to overcome the impacts of the global financial crisis, and now, Russia is seeing strong development in every respect. We are glad for Russia’s achievements and successes, and with this in mind, I would like to express my hope that the relations between our two nations continue developing steadily.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Minh Triet, friends,
Our countries are indeed strategic partners, and this visit reflects this level of relations between our countries.
I want to start by congratulating Vietnam and its people on their recent achievements. I remember sitting in this same hall nine years ago, and the country has changed a lot since then of course. You have developed very rapidly. Driving through the streets of Hanoi I saw how much construction is going on, how many new facilities are being built. This is good to see as it shows that you are growing fast, and Russia, as Vietnam’s close friend and partner, is very happy to see this.
Our relations really have a special history going back to the time when Vietnam was fighting for its independence. We are very pleased that this friendship lasted throughout the Soviet period and continues in Russia today. We are ready to do everything we can to keep developing these time-tested relations on a mutually beneficial, pragmatic and friendly basis.
We just witnessed the signing of a large number of documents that reflect the full extent of our relations. They include agreements on major energy projects, on the construction of a nuclear power plant, for example. This is a very big and important long-term project. Ultimately, if we carry out this project as planned and create envisaged generating capacities, the resulting nuclear power plant will be able to produce a large part of Vietnam’s electricity, and we think that this will help Vietnam to progress as a modern and independent country that not only produces and refines oil, but employs other energy sources too. This is very important in today’s world in order to be a strong, advanced and independent country.
We cooperate in other sectors as well. We have longstanding ties in the hydrocarbons sector, and we signed agreements in this area too today. We have almost 30 years of cooperation experience in the oil sector and we hope to continue maintaining and expanding our cooperation in the once established and new directions.
The President and I discussed promoting our cooperation and examined the possibilities for building new facilities in Vietnam, Russia, and in other countries too. It is always good when projects have their own separate development. Besides, we reviewed a whole range of other issues, industrial cooperation, for example, and cooperation in transport and high technology. The documents signed today show that we have good prospects ahead in all of these areas.
It is good that we are developing our cooperation in politics, in the humanitarian sector, and in culture, as all of this also helps to cement the ties between our countries. Education has been one of the most successful cooperation areas both during the Soviet period, and recently, as many specialists from Vietnam received training in our country. We welcome this very much and think that these are precisely the people who through their own example and knowledge can help to develop the friendship between our countries, and we are ready to continue training such specialists. We could increase the number of people from Vietnam coming to our country for training. We already have a lot of students from Vietnam and we greatly welcome this and would like to set up new educational establishments too. We came back today to the idea that the President spoke of during his visit to Russia in 2008, namely the idea of establishing a joint technology university. We will work on this idea because I think it is a good proposal, and we will develop other education and humanitarian projects too.
In general, on foreign policy and regional security issues our countries share very close and even identical positions. We want security to be ensured on the basis of the generally recognised norms of international law, subject to respecting international development priorities and the basic principles on which modern relations between countries are built. In this respect, I think the ASEAN summit in which I took part was also a step towards greater regional security, and I would like to thank once again our Vietnamese friends for this summit’s excellent organisation, and for the fine way too that my official visit as Russian President has been organised.
The President mentioned the weather just now, and I must say that the weather is indeed wonderful at this time of year, unlike in Moscow, and it was a real pleasure to walk around Hanoi. This is an excellent time to visit. I am sure that the weather in full measure reflects the good relations that our peoples and countries have.
Mr President Nguyen Minh Triet, colleagues and friends, I thank you most sincerely for the invitation to make this visit that really has opened a new page in our relations.
Thank you very much.
Question (retranslated): I want to ask both presidents: how do you assess relations between Vietnam and Russia since the two countries established a strategic partnership in 2001?
NGUYEN MINH TRIET (retranslated): Vietnam and Russia, like Vietnam and the USSR in the past, have very good relations. These relations have long since been strategic in nature, but it is only recently that we decided to establish a strategic partnership, and since then our relations have steadily developed and strengthened. This is reflected above all in the high level of trust that characterises our relations. Vietnam values greatly Russia’s role in the region and in the world in general.
Vietnam wants to develop its cooperation with Russia in various areas, and Russia has responded positively to our proposals. Our leaders have visited each other’s countries on many occasions. We have signed many important agreements and carried out important projects, especially cooperation projects in the oil and gas sector. This includes projects carried out by Vietsovpetro joint venture. We are now expanding our cooperation in the oil and gas sector in Russia itself, and in other countries. We are also developing our cooperation in other areas, including in culture, education, science and so on. We value greatly our cooperation and the results it produces, but if we look at our potential and opportunities, of course we would like our economic and investment cooperation to advance even further in order to fulfil our hopes and realise the potential our countries have. I stress what great importance we place on the ties between our countries, and I thank Mr Medvedev and the Russian people for their cooperation with our people.
Dmitry Medvedev: To continue what the President just said, I want to add that strategic partnership, in my view, comprises three elements at least, and all three are present in our relations.
The first element is strong privileged economic relations based on mutual trust. What we have achieved over this last decade illustrates these relations, as do the large number of important economic agreements on big projects that were signed just before here at this table. These privileged economic relations encompass a broad range of areas, including energy and infrastructure, and also the important and sensitive area of military technical cooperation.
The second element is strong cultural, humanitarian and education ties and mutual sympathy between peoples — ties that have withstood the test of time and are relying on a solid base of agreements. All of this applies to our relations. We have a genuine partnership that dates back not to 2001, but earlier, because our friendship was forged during the Vietnamese people’s struggle for independence, and this is what cements our partnership. Our agreements are secondary to this foundation.
Finally, the third element is coordination of foreign policy. When countries share similar views on global development issues, they try to coordinate foreign policy in order to reach agreement on various matters and find the quickest means for resolving foreign policy tasks, both global and regional. Russia and Vietnam have these relations today. I therefore fully agree with what the President said, and view our relations as a strategic partnership and friendship.
Question: A large number of documents were signed today, most of which concern economic cooperation. The Vietnamese President noted Hanoi’s desire to develop free trade zones with the Customs Union, and you said that our countries have privileged economic relations. Could we say that Vietnam is a key economic partner for Russia now? And one more small question: yesterday you had the chance to take a walk around the Lake of the Returned Sword. Could you say a few words about your impressions, and also tell us what kind of Vietnamese dishes you liked most?
Dmitry Medvedev: This is a good question. I already spoke about our good and strategic relations and it makes no sense to repeat what I just said. The whole history of our relations shows what a good level they have reached. But the main thing is not to just look at what we have already achieved but look to the future too, and it is this future-focused vision that distinguishes our relations today.
Regarding my walk yesterday and my impressions, it was not for nothing that I mentioned in my opening remarks how much Hanoi has changed over these last nine years. This is very good because the city has acquired new features while preserving its particular Vietnamese traditions and local spirit. I got the chance not just to take a walk around yesterday but also to make some photos out of the car window, which requires a bit of skill, given that the car moves fairly fast. I took some photos during the walk too. Beautiful places indeed, the lake we visited, the ancient temples and sites, they all show that Hanoi is a place where history and modern development converge, a place reflecting the future of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with the 1,000th anniversary of Hanoi’s founding being a significant date in this context.
Of course, no visit to Vietnam would be complete without sampling the local culinary specialties, which really are delicious indeed. Vietnamese cuisine is a little spicy perhaps for Russians, though I like it, I must confess. Perhaps the women find it a little harder going, but it is all a matter of habit. We tried a broad variety of Vietnamese dishes yesterday, and it really was a very interesting gastronomic experience and a true pleasure. I understand the Russian tourists who come here, because Vietnam offers history, culture, and a whole range of customs of its own. People on the streets are very warm, very welcoming and friendly, and this all creates a wonderful mood.
Question (retranslated): I have a question for the Russian President. We view with interest the modernisation policies you have mapped out for Russia. In this respect I want to ask what role does Russia’s increased focus on foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region play in its national modernisation?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you for this question. Modernisation is indeed one of our key priorities, not because we want to change everything around us, but because development requires us to think about the future, think about how to stay competitive, and Russia wants to be a competitive country.
Russia has plentiful natural resources, which we develop and share with our friends, including Vietnam and other countries, but we cannot build the future on natural resources alone. We must develop our country in the spirit that dominates around the world today, namely, introduce new technology, innovation, more rational industry, effective energy use, develop the use of advanced technology in everyday life, in medicine, and in education. Doing this will make our country more dynamic and give us the elasticity we need to modernise and better adapt to today’s demands. This is what our modernisation policy sets out to achieve. We have set the focus on five main areas, which are well known now, though this does not mean that modernisation will go ahead in these five areas alone. These are simply the consolidated basic development priorities, but we will of course pursue modernisation in all areas, and adjust our priorities if need be, add something new if necessary, and if we reach our goals in the chosen priority areas we could perhaps reset the focus to other objectives.
The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s fastest growing region and accounts for almost half of world GDP now. Cooperation with all countries of this region is therefore an unquestionable priority for us, if only for the simple reason that Russia is also an Asia-Pacific region country and takes part in all of the political and economic processes here. It is therefore so important for us to take part in regional associations and regional organisations. We are very pleased to have the chance to work together actively within ASEAN and ASEM [Asia-Europe Meeting] formats. The APEC forum will be coming up soon, and other regional forums are very important to us too. We will continue to broaden our involvement with these forums and try to offer new forms of cooperation with all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Vietnam is certainly one of our key partners here.
Question: Mr Medvedev, Russia is now energetically returning to the regions where the USSR was once active. You said that Russia is returning now to Latin America and Africa. Does this visit mean that Russia is now ready for a systemic and large-scale return to Southeast Asia? And also, how do you view relations with this region and with ASEAN? Are relations just about weapons and energy, or is there something more to them?
And a question for Mr Nguyen: what do you think the Southeast Asian region can gain from more active Russian involvement and a stronger Russian presence in the region?
Dmitry Medvedev: I think that as far as Southeast Asia is concerned the situation is clearer than is the case with Africa and Latin America. We never really left this region. There are countries here with which we have very close and friendly relations and a strategic partnership. We do not need to restore anything here but simply need to take our relations to a higher level.
We have always been friends with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and these relations were never broken. I am sure that this will continue. But as I said, we should also look for new projects. We cannot focus on the energy sector alone. We must develop new forms of cooperation in high technology, alternative energy sources, including nuclear energy, for example, as we agreed today. In this respect I think we have excellent prospects. I don’t know, does Mr President agree?
Nguyen MINH TRIET (retranslated): I agree completely with the President of the Russian Federation. I just want to add that Vietnam and the ASEAN countries seek in their internal integration to expand relations with all countries on both a bilateral and multilateral basis.
Russia is an important country for us because it plays an essential role on the international stage. We want very much to develop our cooperation with Russia in all areas, including in science and the economy, education and culture, in order to contribute to peace and stability in the region.
Russia therefore has a very significant place in the world and can make a major contribution to maintaining regional and global stability.