Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
According to preliminary data, about 50,000 Vietnamese students graduated from Soviet and Russian universities. Now many of them are high-ranked officials. They speak Russian and are adepts of Russian culture, and they love it as much as I do.
I have had a good number of meetings and talks with the political leadership of your country before this meeting. I am happy to say that everything we have done and accumulated for the decades of our friendship was not in vain. I consider this meeting symbolic. Many of those present here stood at the cradle of our cooperation, and fostered long-term traditions of unity and friendship between our peoples.
In January of last year, we marked the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries. I’d like to stress that our friendship and mutual sympathies remained unchanged so far, and have stood the test of political changes. This is very crucial.
Russia and Vietnam boast vast experience in cooperation in different fields. When Vietnam fought for its independence and unity, the Soviet Union supplied it with food and goods, and provided maximum help to the Vietnamese people. When after the war the country was rebuilding its economy, Russian specialists participated in the construction of over 300 companies and industrial facilities, which laid the basis of the modern Vietnamese economy. That is why we attach great importance to our current cooperation, which is laying foundations for the future.
Russia takes great interest in Vietnam’s economic programme, which is being implemented in the country now. We believe it is a good example of transition from a centralised to a market, socially oriented economy. Owing to that programme, your country gained visible results – it solved the food problem, reduced inflation, and achieved one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world. Steady economic growth and subsequent improvement in the people’s living standards have become the main stabilising factor in the country. We sincerely congratulate the hardworking and gifted Vietnamese people on their success.
In the upcoming century, Russia’s foreign policy puts developing relations with Vietnam and bringing bilateral relations to the strategic level high on the agenda. I am sure it would serve both countries’ national interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
As for Russian-Vietnamese cooperation in the trade, economic, scientific and technological fields, it is obvious that its volume and quality fell far behind our potential and capabilities. Our common goal is to improve the situation as soon as possible. Suffice it to say that trade turnover is just $400 million…
We believe that partnership in oil and gas exploration seems very promising here. You are well aware of the great capabilities of Vietsovpetro, a joint venture we take pride in. Today it holds leading positions on the continental shelf of Vietnam. Its economic indicators put it at the top of the major oil companies of the world. This year the company intends to produce 100 million tonnes of oil.
Russian businessmen are ready to participate in designing and building energy facilities in Vietnam. Construction of the first oil-processing plant is one of those projects. Its commissioning will make it possible to build up a single technological chain: exploration, production, transportation, processing. I am sure Russian-Vietnamese partnership in science and technology also has a promising future. We intend to continue close cooperation in this field.
I consider it important to stress here our cooperation in studying and teaching the Russian language in Vietnam, as it plays a special role in preserving and developing friendly relations between our countries. I am happy that today more and more Vietnamese students study Russian.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that I am grateful to all members of the Russian-Vietnamese Friendship Society and the Association of Soviet and Russian University Graduates for their contribution to closer relations and friendship between our peoples, which means a great deal. Thank you.