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Statements of Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Kotzias, following his meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Pham Binh Minh (Athens, 2 July 2018)
N. KOTZIAS: Good morning.
It is a great pleasure to welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Pham Binh Minh, to Athens. For me, personally, every meeting with the representatives of the Vietnamese people is a great pleasure and satisfaction. The Vietnamese people are one of the most heroic peoples in history, having won four major wars defending their sovereignty, independence and rights. I am always very moved to remember that, in the dark years of the junta, the heroic Vietnamese people inspired us in their battle against any force that wanted to conquer them; their fight for the unity and independence of their country. For this reason, I am very moved to welcome Pham Binh Minh, and I do so with great pleasure.
My colleague and I had a detailed discussion on the cooperation between our countries and on how we can develop and deepen this cooperation. We have extremely friendly relations with Vietnam.
Our political cooperation has taken great steps forward, but our cooperation in other sectors is not so firmly established. We talked about further cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs – ours and theirs – and our cooperation on the level of political dialogue.
We agreed to meet once a year in reciprocal visits for collaboration between our Political Directors and Secretaries General. We also agreed on special cooperation regarding European issues and ASEAN, as well as regarding common interests in regions such as the Middle East.
We discussed our holding business forums in the coming year, in cooperation with the competent Greek and Vietnamese organizations, in both Greece and Vietnam, holding – along with these forums – meetings of the Vietnamese Authorities with the Union of Greek Shipowners, which holds special interest for our friend Vietnam.
We agreed to support the strengthening of our exports, from exchange of various agricultural products we have to manufactured products and cooperation between Start-ups companies.
We talked about stepping up our cooperation on the multilateral level, particularly in support of Vietnam’s candidacy for the UN Security Council. And we, too, will receive their support.
We also looked at our cooperation within the UN and within a special invitation on the International Law of the Sea.
We agreed that, after the summer, there will be a meeting of experts from the competent Vietnamese Institute with our Scientific Council on law-of-the-sea issues and on our future cooperation in the third round on the Law of the Sea that is to begin at the UN.
We carried out preparation and discussed how to develop our cooperation on these issues of the law of the sea and how the meeting of our two teams will prepare an international conference, in particular on rights with respect to the islands, deriving from the Law of the Sea. And we talked about regional issues, which we will continue to discuss during our luncheon.
I think this visit had very specific results. We agree that, together with the business forums, there will be meetings on technology issues.
During my visit to Ho Chi Minh City – where I saw the new technological park – I was impressed, I must say, by Vietnam’s technological development. There are also strong new tech enterprises here that can collaborate.
We also discussed our cooperation regarding the European Union and how we can promote and help to promote the relations between Vietnam and the European Union in order to bring to completion the process of ratifying the agreement that exists between the two sides.
We had a special discussion on cooperation on education and the scholarships that can be granted, especially in the sectors of shipping, navigation, international law, as well as training in the Greek language.
Not to go into too much detail, I would say that, in general, it was a successful, creative and productive meeting that set the framework we had agreed on with Vietnam on the tracks of a ‘practical train’, as I sometimes say, so that the framework can move ahead.
Finally, I would like to thank my colleague for the invitation he extended to the Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, to visit Vietnam, and I told him I am sure our Prime Minister will be very pleased, because he, too, is very much attached to and wants to develop our relations with Vietnam.
My friend Pham Binh Minh, once again I thank you for accepting our invitation. Once again I thank you for the good and creative and productive will with which you came to Greece.We may be a long way from each other geographically, but our hearts are very close. Welcome again.