Ample Room Remains for Cooperation Between Vietnam and North Macedonia

In a recent interview on the occasion of the 30th founding anniversary of Vietnam - North Macedonia diplomatic relations (June 10 1994 - June 10 2024), Do Hoang Long, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, concurrently accredited to the Republic of North Macedonia, said that the two countries have enjoyed sound relations with fruitful results seen in all cooperation areas.
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According to Ambassador Do Hoang Long, since establishing diplomatic relations on June 10, 1994, Vietnam and North Macedonia have always maintained and strengthened a good friendship and mutual trust.

Although the two countries have not exchanged high-level delegations, many delegations of all levels have been exchanged such as the Vice President, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The most recent of which was the visit of former Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Uong Chu Luu to North Macedonia in 2018.

"The two countries have a tradition of good cooperation and support for each other at international forums such as the United Nations ( UN), Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Forum (ASEP)... North Macedonia supports Vietnam as a member of the UN Security Council for both terms 2008-2009 and 2020- 2021. The two countries have also supported each other in the UN Human Rights Council," said Do Hoang Long.

(Photo: VNA).
Do Hoang Long, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, concurrently accredited to the Republic of North Macedonia (Photo: VNA).

The economic and trade relations between the two countries are still modest and do not match their potential. The annual direct and indirect bilateral trade turnover (through third countries to import and export goods to each country) only reaches about US $8-12 million, mainly agricultural products. The two countries' signing of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Economic Cooperation Agreement has demonstrated the efforts and determination of the leaders of the two countries to create a favorable legal framework to promote economic cooperation and increase trade turnover.

In other fields, Vietnam and North Macedonia have conducted many activities to exchange experiences in the field of legislation, promoting the role of the parliament in carrying out legislative tasks and supreme supervision, promoting the implementation of the signed agreements

"Regarding education, Vietnam is a priority country to receive scholarships from North Macedonia. Recently, the two countries have promoted the exchange of scholarships and regularly organized cultural exchange activities. It contributes to strengthening mutual understanding between the two peoples, boosting the possibility of signing cooperation agreements on culture and tourism in stages to enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges," he said.

Long believes that Vietnam and North Macedonia have much potential for cooperation in the future, both in bilateral relations as well as coordination in the international arena and at multilateral forums.

"The good political relations between the two countries are a solid foundation for the development of cooperative and trusting relations in all fields. Vietnam and North Macedonia are both located in areas with favorable geographical locations, creating favorable conditions for increased connectivity and trade. In exchanges and contacts at all levels, Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed its readiness to act as a bridge to help North Macedonia strengthen relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in return, North Macedonia will also facilitate conditions for Vietnamese products to enter the Balkan market," said the diplomat.

In his opinion, the two countries need to take advantage of economic agreements to continue to increase trade turnover and promote cooperation, and expand markets, especially in potential fields where the two countries have strengths such as agriculture, food processing, and textiles. In addition, the two countries have rich historical and cultural traditions, and there is still much room to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges and promote tourism cooperation.

"In addition, there are several other fields that North Macedonia is focusing on developing such as education - training, health, and science and technology, which are also very suitable for Vietnam's concerns and needs, especially in terms of sharing experiences, information and seeking new cooperation opportunities," exclaimed Long.

He mentioned that the two sides have a tradition of good cooperation at international and regional forums, supporting each other in important UN positions such as the Security Council, Human Rights Council, and Business Council. Economy and Society. Through contacts at all levels, Vietnam has expressed support for North Macedonia's efforts to open up and integrate regionally and internationally, including the roadmap to join the European Union (EU).

North Macedonia has also repeatedly affirmed its support for Vietnam's views and stance on resolving disputes through peaceful means, on the basis of the UN Charter and international law, including the UN Convention. on the 1982 Law of the Sea.

"These are important premises that actively contribute to the two countries continuing to develop cooperative relationships at multilateral forums, contributing to common efforts to maintain peace and stability, security and development in the region and the world," he said.

Several directions of cooperation to explore

To continue to develop friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries in the coming time, Vietnam and North Macedonia need to continue to consolidate and promote the positive and important results that have been achieved in recent times. Long believes there are several main directions of cooperation for Vietnam and the Southeast European country to explore.

"First, in terms of politics, the two countries need to increase the exchange of delegations at all levels, especially visits by senior leaders. The exchange of delegations at all levels, especially high-level ones, plays an important role in orienting cooperation, creating opportunities for agencies, departments, and businesses of the two countries to connect and seek cooperation opportunities. Second, economically, Vietnam and North Macedonia need to continue to promote trade and investment promotion activities, creating favorable conditions for businesses of the two countries to access each other's markets," he listed.

In addition, Vietnam and North Macedonia also need to pay attention and focus on finding new cooperation opportunities, suitable for the supply and demand of each country Third, regarding cooperation in other fields, the two countries need to soon promote the establishment of an Intergovernmental Committee on economic cooperation mechanism, and increase the exchange of delegations of ministries and branches, expand cooperation in the fields of education, training, culture, tourism, agriculture, health, science and technology; move towards signing agreements and cooperation agreements in these fields.

Finally, the two countries need to continue to strengthen coordination and support each other in international and regional forums, namely support each other's candidacies for important UN agencies, maintain coordination on regional and international issues of mutual concern, contribute to the common efforts of the international community for peace, stability, and sustainable development, based on respect for international law and the UN Charter.

According to the Vietnamese diplomat, in 2024 and the following years, the focus of Vietnam - North Macedonia cooperation will be

(i) Exchange of high-level delegations after North Macedonia establish and operate a stable government;

(ii) Establishment of the Intergovernmental Committee on Vietnam - North Macedonia cooperation mechanism as agreed by the senior leaders of the two countries;

(iii) Organize business forums and trade promotion activities to establish direct cooperative relationships between businesses and between the two Chambers of Commerce and Industry;

(iv) Consider signing several bilateral cooperation agreements, building specific cooperation programs in fields such as agriculture, health, education, culture, tourism and science and technology;

(v) Vietnam needs to take advantage of North Macedonia's support for its candidacy for several important positions and agencies of the UN shortly, including the Human Rights Council term 2026-2028.

"Vietnam always attaches importance to consolidating and strengthening traditional friendship and multifaceted cooperation with North Macedonia and up to now the relationship between the two countries has achieved many positive results through the 30-year journey. There is still a lot of favorable space for the two countries to strengthen and promote practical and effective cooperation based on mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, for the benefit of the two peoples," said Long.

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