By Roy Lie Atjam
The Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in the Netherlands remitted Commemorative Medals to Mr Cornelis Pieter (Cees) Veerman, Former Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands and Mr Marcus Slingenberg, former Agricultural Counsellor of the Netherlands in Viet Nam, for their contribution to the agriculture and rural development of Viet Nam. Venue, the Embassy of Vietnam The Hague, 24 June 2022.
Here comes a resume and a free translation of Ambassador Mr Pham Viet Anh speech.
“Agriculture is the oldest, most popular and most important profession in Vietnam. In the old days, long ago, we attached great importance to two kinds of people: teachers and farmers. One brought food to the brain and the other brought food to the stomach. And yet, before 1980, with more than 80% of its area devoted to agriculture, and with farmers making up 90% of the population, Vietnam had to import rice and food. At present, the number of farmers and agricultural areas is much reduced, but Vietnam exports rice and agricultural products.
Today, in your presence and with our deepest gratitude and appreciation, we are proud to announce Mr. Cees Veerman, former Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, and Mr. Marcus Slingenberg, former Agriculture Councellor at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, to present the Vietnam Agriculture Medals for their valuable contributions.
We are very sorry for the delay of which I myself do not know the cause. Maybe it’s a break in the connection. These medals are always carefully kept in our safe. Discovering them at the beginning of my mission, I quickly realized that I would have the chance to meet at least two old friends from Vietnam and many others at the same time. Suddenly I think of the fact that European explorers went on a voyage of discovery to the Angkor temple in Cambodia. We are really happy with that.
Prior to this event, I had a very satisfying meeting with Mr. Veerman and his wife in their beautiful house in the middle of a nature that cannot be added for fear that we could make them less perfect. I deeply regret that I was unable to contact and Mr. Marcus Slingenberg can meet in advance of this event. I’m so sorry.
Thanks to these medals, we have today found two old friends from Vietnam who are in fact not very old. We also have the opportunity to see familiar faces again, reminisce about our old memories and look to the future. For me this event is one of the most beautiful memories in the Netherlands that I will never forget.
Allow me to tell you about my dream on this important occasion. I dreamed of witnessing the birth of the Dutch-Vietnamese Friendship Association. We have had such an association in Vietnam for years and have no Dutch counterpart. It will be a good home for generations of Vietnamese friends. It will be an excellent channel that will let us discover more about life and people here, in the Netherlands. This will, I am sure, strengthen our friendship and cooperation, our mutual understanding.
Vietnam still needs friends and experts. Vietnam is in your head and heart. I think you are the first to connect old and new Dutch friends to build this house. In this way you continue to help us achieve our common goal: for sustainable development while protecting the environment.
For our just and beautiful cause, for the friendship between the Netherlands and Vietnam, I invite you to raise a glass and wish the birth of the Dutch-Vietnamese Friendship Association. I wish you health, happiness and success!”
Another speaker at the remittance ceremony was Mr Max Valstar, Head South and Southeast Asia Division MFA. The Netherlands.
“Vietnam and The Netherlands have many things in common: extensive, fertile deltas; strong agricultural tradition. Makes us natural partners in many fields, especially in sustainable agriculture and food security, and in water and climate change – two areas in which we have strategic partnership arrangements. Partnerships into which former Minister Veerman and Mr Slingenberg have put a lot of efforts. I would like to congratulate Vietnam with its achievements in further developing Vietnam’s agricultural sector and with your ambition to sustainably develop the Vietnamese food production system to become a major exporting country.
The Netherlands is proud to be the partner for Vietnam to further design the sustainable transition with the application of products, knowledge and services.
To realize large scale sustainable impact in the agricultural sector and to become an important regional and global player in exporting agricultural products requires strong commitment.
A strong agricultural sector does not come overnight and needs continuous innovation and adaptation to changing circumstances.
We wish to express how pleased we are to continue the intensive cooperation working on water, climate change and sustainable agriculture. All fields are strongly inter-connected.
The Mekong Delta Plan, to which former minister Veerman has devoted his efforts, has been the source of inspiration for the Mekong Delta Integrated Regional Masterplan, which was presented earlier this week. To implement the Masterplan, there is a major role for agriculture to transform into a future resilient, sustainable and profitable sector actively living with the natural conditions.
The Netherlands is ready to work with Vietnam in facilitating this agricultural transformation process. This will also contribute to mutual trade development.”
The gentlemen Mr Cornelis Pieter (Cees) Veerman and Mr Marcus Slingenberg expressed, their gratitude and are willing to perpetuate a warm relationship with Vietnam.
The serene ceremony ended with a cocktail reception. It has been a delight to see many happy faces.