By Roy Lie Atjam
The Embassy of Vietnam in the Netherlands organized a reception to Celebrate the 77th Anniversary National Day of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. The celebration of this memorable day took place in The Hague on 19th September 2022.
H.E. Ambassador Pham Viet Anh opened the reception by quoting from the declaration of independence of the United States of America back in 1776 and the French Republic in 1791. Both declarations accentuated the aspects of Equality, Liberty and Humanity.
“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.”
The Independence of Vietnam in September 1945 was along similar lines, as written by the founding father, President Ho Chi Minh.
Vietnam has come a long way and is a dynamic and developing country doing well. Its education system ranks among the best in the world. Vietnam progressed in mathematics and IT. 85-90% of young people can speak English.
Ambassador Pham Viet Anh, in his welcoming remarks, thanked all for coming to celebrate Vietnam Nation Day with him. In part, this is what he went on to say. “The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. As written and proclaimed solemnly by our President Ho Chi Minh on September 2, 1945, in Ha Noi, which marked the end of more than 8 decades of miserable colonization in Viet Nam. It is not by chance that President Ho Chi Minh quoted the two famous declarations of the United States and France. The reason is simple as life: He found there the fundamental values of Humanity that we have long been deprived of.
This historic moment turned Vietnam into the era of independence and on the way of integration with the world. It brought our nation the happiness and strong hope for freedom, humanity and friendship with all peoples.
However, the peace was too fragile. Just one year later, we were dragged into another long colonial rule. In 1954, our glorious victory with the well-known Dien Bien Phu Campaign ended 9 years of arduous struggle and heroic resistance war of the Vietnamese people.
But our joy of triumph, again, was temporary: the country was separated north and south for another 20 years. Our strong aspirations for peace motivated the whole nation to fight for noble values, among those are sovereignty and independence. The successful Ho Chi Minh Campaign marked the end of the war on April 30th, 1975, paving the way for an unified Vietnam.
The young Vietnam just walked out of wars, suffering from entrenched poverty, underdevelopment, and dealing with persistent hardships. I myself grew up in the shadow of the bomb in Hanoi and in many country sides. The memories of those dark days are still vivid, reminding me and many other Vietnamese how precious peace is and how hard we were fighting for it.
Rising from the ashes of war, Vietnam today proudly has become a dynamic and developing country, as well as an active and responsible member of international community, contributing to peace, security and development of the world. The World Bank once stated: “Vietnam is a success story.” And we’re proud it’s true. Between 2002 and 2020, our GDP per capita increased 3.6 time. The poverty rate fell from more than 32% in 2011 to less than 2% in 2020. Vietnam’s economy has shown considerable resilience during crisis, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our achievements are partly thanks to the precious and generous support of friends around the world, who also share the values of peace and justice. The Dutch people and government are among our precious supporters. As early as in 1968, the Medical Commitee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) was established, collecting medicines, materials and money to build a hospital in Quang Tri, locating very close to the demarcation line. In those days, under the incessant bombing there, the talented Dutch documentary filmmaker Joris Evens was present to capture the fierce and tragic images of the war, including the suffering of innocent Vietnamese people.
We can say friendship between the Dutch and Vietnamese peoples was made long before the official establishment of diplomatic relations. It reminds me of the famous quote by Blaise Pascal:
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of” or “l’amour a des raisons que la raison ne connait pas”.
After establishing diplomatic relations, the Dutch government and people also lent us a helping hand in rebuilding the country, especially in the fields of agriculture, irrigation, education, health and infrastructure. As a result, the two countries became strategic partners in climate change adaptation and water management, sustainable agriculture and food security. Currently, the relationship between the two countries is a comprehensive partnership.
In addition, trade is also one of the promising areas between Vietnam and the Netherlands, especially after the EVFTA came into force. Now, the Netherlands ranked 8th of 140 countries and territories in the world and No.1 European investor in Vietnam with about 400 projects. The turnover of bilateral trade between Vietnam and the Netherlands in the first 6 months of the year reached more than $5 billion, up 26% compared to the same period in 2021. These are encouraging indicators for us to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year.
The prouder we are of our important achievements, the more grateful we are for the valuable support and cooperation of all our friends around the world. Vietnam has always loved peace and justice, and has always wished to sincerely cooperate with all countries for a peaceful and prosperous world.
On this solemn occasion of Vietnam’s National Day, we would like to extend our good wishes and deep gratitude to the King and the Queen of the Netherlands, the Dutch government and people.”
The 2022 Vietnam National Day reception was well attended, among the attendees were persons from the business community, Director General of the Department of Asia and Oceania – Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former Dutch diplomats, OPCW, IOM, President of the diaspora and Ambassadors-Diplomats from, Philippines, Kuwait, Armenia, Rwanda, Russia, Argentina, Belarus, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Thailand, Iran, Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, UK, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Peru, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen, Panama, and many more. Guests enjoyed presentations of colorful Vietnamese dances.
A second speaker at the Vietnam 2022 National Day celebration was Dr. Karin Mössenlechner, Director General of the Department of Asia and Oceania – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Here are Dr. Karin Mössenlechner remarks.
”I am honored to address you at this festive occasion on the 77th anniversary of the National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam and the Netherlands have close bilateral relations. No wonder, given the remarkable similarities between our countries.
Like the Netherlands, Vietnam is country of water and rivers. We both are seafaring and trading nations, with open economies. Vietnam is the 2nd largest exporter of coffee in the world, the Netherlands – per capita – the 3rd coffee drinking nation. The Netherlands is the largest EU investor and the second largest EU trading partner of Vietnam. More than 100 Dutch companies are established in Vietnam.
We have a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement with Water and Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security as its main pillars; this provides a promising basis for expanding and deepening our co-operation with Vietnam.
Many projects have been launched in recent years, for example the HCMC flood protection project. Vietnam also invited us to jointly develop a human rights curriculum for the Ho Chi Minh Political Academy. And just two weeks ago a Dutch integrated mission regarding the Mekong Delta went to Vietnam with many stakeholders. In the Mekong Delta, the Netherland is offering its expertise on water, agriculture and logistics.
At the same time, the Netherlands has much to learn from the dynamics, resilience and energy of Vietnam’s development, which together with its entrepreneurial spirit leads to unprecedented growth. Vietnam’s open economy, structural economic growth, multilateral positioning, and strategic location in ASEAN provides many opportunities for further cooperation.
Next year, in 2023, we will be celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Netherlands. The year will be dedicated to strengthening our bilateral bond, between our governments, our businesses, our knowledge institutions and especially also between our people: for example through student exchanges and cultural activities. Culture builds bridges, creates mutual understanding and connects people, which is more needed than ever in these times.
Our embassies will play an important part in the organisation of the half centennial festivities. I am glad to inform you that at this very day our new ambassador in Hanoi, Kees van Baar, presented his credentials to President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, so he is all set to start.
I look forward to our continuing cooperation in the future; may it be even more successful and closer than it is now!“
The celebration of the 77th Anniversary of the National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has been a delight.