Bulgarian NA Speaker’s Visit to Vietnam Opens Up New Chapter in Vietnam-Bulgaria Ties
Can you clarify the significance and key contents of Bulgarian National Assembly Speaker Rosen Zhelyazkov's official visit to Vietnam?
The official visit to Vietnam by Bulgarian National Assembly Speaker Rosen Zhelyazkov on the first days of 2024 takes place in the context of Bulgaria's achievements in political stability, recovery, and economic development - society, promoting regional and international integration.
This is a highly significant visit to the two countries' traditional relations, and it is the first visit to Vietnam by a Bulgarian high-ranking leader in more than ten years, since 2013. At the same time, this is the Speaker of the Bulgarian National Assembly's return visit, following the official visit to Bulgaria of the delegation led by Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue in September 2023.
The visit demonstrates the country's and people's respect and affection for Vietnam of Bulgaria and its people. Bulgaria regards Vietnam as a traditional friend and one of the most important Southeast Asian partners.
In addition, the visit will contribute to promoting effective and practical collaboration between the two countries in all fields, aiming at taking the bilateral relations to new heights, heading towards a strategic partnership and the 75th anniversary of Vietnam- Bulgaria diplomatic relations (February 8, 1950 - February 8, 2025).
|Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue met the Vietnamese community in Bulgaria during his visit to Bulgaria in September 2023. (Photo: Vietnamese Embassy in Bulgaria)
In alignment with that belief, the official visit of the head of the Bulgarian National Assembly will focus on strengthening and further cultivating the good political relationship between the two countries on Party, State, Government, and people-to-people diplomacy. On the other hand, the visit will serve as an occasion opening up new opportunities for cooperation in many potential fields that the two countries have strengths such as trade investment, education training, health, culture, tourism, labor, and locality cooperation.
In the diverse working sessions of National Assembly Speaker Rosen Zhelyazkov with high-ranking leaders of Vietnam, we will also affirm our consistent foreign policy and direction of independence, autonomy, multilateralism, diversify international relations, convey the message that Vietnam is a trusted friend, a partner for sustainable peace and a responsible member of the international community.
During the visit, we will arrange several unique cultural and artistic performances to promote the image of Vietnam as a hospitable, peace-loving, and friendly country, which strives to recover strongly after the pandemic.
During the visit of National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue to Bulgaria in September 2023, the two countries signed many documents, including a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Vietnam National Assembly Office and the Bulgarian National Assembly Secretariat. What is the recent parliamentary cooperation through the National Assembly channel in particular and the focus of cooperation between the two countries in general in the upcoming time?
The visit to Bulgaria by National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue in September 2023 was a great success, with many cooperation agreements in various fields, most notably two cooperation documents via the National Assembly channel, including the Memorandum of Understanding between the National Assembly of Vietnam and the National Assembly of Bulgaria, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the National Assembly of Vietnam and the Secretariat of the Bulgarian National Assembly.
These are all significant cooperation documents that contribute to enhancing regular, practical, and effective cooperation and exchange between the two countries' legislative bodies; promote traditional friendly relations and inter-parliamentary cooperation on bilateral and multilateral levels; and improve the quality of consul work to support the work of National Assembly deputies, committees, and parliamentary groups.
It can be said that in recent times, parliamentary cooperation has been considered a bright spot in Vietnam - Bulgaria relations, creating a “new breeze” pushing the Vietnam - Bulgaria cooperation boat to continue to develop and expand the good relationship between the two countries.
|Ambassador Do Hoang Long welcomed guests to attend the 78th Anniversary of the National Day of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. (Photo: Vietnamese Embassy in Bulgaria)
Through official and working visits of high-level delegations, such as the delegation of Vietnam National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue visiting Bulgaria in September 2023, the delegation of former Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Uong Chu Luu visiting Bulgaria in April 2018, and the delegation of former Speaker of the Bulgarian National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva visiting Vietnam in April 2012.
During these trips, activities were carried out to exchange experiences in the sectors of law, supervision, and decision-making on major issues facing the two countries, as well as other forms of sharing information, ideas, and consultations on issues of shared concern. Numerous regional and international topics of mutual interest were extensively discussed.
To effectively implement the important cooperation documents that have just been signed, the focus of cooperation through the National Assembly channel in the upcoming time is expected to focus on these aspects: (i) Strengthening the organization of delegation exchanges of the National Assembly leaders, Committee levels, Friendship Parliamentary Groups of the two countries; the Bulgarian Young Parliamentarians Group and the Vietnamese Young Parliamentarians Group; Vietnam Women's Parliamentary Group and Bulgarian Women's Parliamentary Group; the Bulgarian National Assembly Secretariat and the Vietnam National Assembly Office; (ii) Organize conferences, seminars, face-to-face and online conferences between the two countries; (iii) Exchange information and experience in the field of parliamentary activities; (iv) Exchange and consul within the framework of regional and international conferences and inter-parliamentary forums.
The Bulgarian National Assembly ratified the Vietnam-European Union Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) before the visit of National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue. How do the two sides take advantage of the benefits of EVIPA to enhance bilateral commerce?
The Vietnam - European Union Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) was approved by the Bulgarian National Assembly right before the visit of National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue in September 2023. Bulgaria's adoption of EVIPA creates an important legal foundation for enterprises in both countries to strengthen trade and investment cooperation. This can be considered a positive highlight contributing to Vietnam's efforts in promoting and lobbying European Union (EU) member countries to soon ratify the above Agreement.
When fully in effect, EVIPA will establish a comprehensive and consistent legal framework for investment operations between EU nations and Vietnam in general, and Bulgaria and Vietnam in particular, helping to boost trust among businesses in developing and enhancing the competitiveness of the two countries' investment and business ecosystems.
To take full advantage of the benefits of EVIPA, Vietnam needs to meticulously prepare for its implementation, including continuing to improve the Vietnamese economy's competitiveness and readiness for utilizing the Agreement's opportunities by increasing investment attractiveness in a variety of areas where the EU has potential, strengths, and high-quality investment capital, such as processing and manufacturing businesses that use high-quality technology, clean energy, and renewable energy.
EVIPA will also pose greater challenges, requiring Vietnamese authorities to continue to coordinate and improve institutions, policies, and laws to ensure consistency, synchronization, fairness, transparency, and non-discriminatory; perfect the legal corridor following the procedures and roadmap that Vietnam commits to in EVIPA.
In addition, Vietnamese enterprises also need to soon access and learn about the commitments in the EVIPA Agreement, in parallel with referencing the commitments of the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to be more active in investment and business cooperation activities with Bulgarian businesses, protect the legal and legitimate rights of workers, avoid complicated disputes and unnecessary risks.
I believe that when the EVIPA Investment Protection Agreement is adopted and implemented by EU nations, along with the EVFTA Agreement, it will stimulate future trade and investment activity between Bulgaria and Vietnam.
In the past, Bulgaria assisted Vietnam in the training of many officials and technicians, including many senior Vietnamese leaders. How will the two countries cooperate in this field recently and in the future?
Bulgaria was one of the first ten nations in the world to recognize and establish diplomatic ties with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the precursor of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, on February 8, 1950. Throughout the most arduous years of the struggle for national independence and national construction, Vietnam has always received valuable support, both materially and spiritually, from the Bulgarian government and people, including the training of over 3,600 scientists, experts, and over 30,000 skilled workers in a variety of fields such as construction, architecture, information technology, biochemistry, agriculture, machine manufacturing, and medicine.
Many of them have become high-ranking Vietnamese leaders such as former Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung, and former Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan. Many of Vietnam's leading scientists, experts, and engineers have been and are still actively participating in making important contributions to the work of protecting the Fatherland and building the country. These are invaluable assets and positive factors contributing to the traditional friendship between Vietnam and Bulgaria.
To promote the above traditions, over the past time, traditional areas of cooperation such as education training, cultural exchange, tourism, and labor have continued to develop positively through many agreements and documents extended and newly signed during the visit to Bulgaria by National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, which stated many important contents and orientations for cooperation in the coming time.
In terms of education and training, the two sides will strengthen cooperation in training, scientific research, and exchange of lecturers, graduate students, and students between universities and research centers in fields such as healthcare, biotechnology, agriculture, environment, and natural resource management.
In terms of labor cooperation, the two countries will promote the effective implementation of the Labor Cooperation Agreement signed in 2018, creating favorable conditions for enterprises of the two countries to send skilled workers to work long-term or on a seasonal basis in sectors such as agriculture, industry, construction, and tourism.
In terms of culture, the two sides will continue to coordinate in organizing cultural and artistic activities such as Cultural Days, painting exhibitions, film weeks, art performances, and food fairs to create favorable conditions for the two countries' people to better understand the Vietnamese and Bulgarian cultures; thereby contributing to promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
This will be the basis for the two countries to create a breakthrough in cooperation and make real and meaningful contributions to promoting bilateral relations to new heights in the coming time, towards the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations establishment between Vietnam and Bulgaria (1950 - 2025).
The Vietnamese community in Bulgaria is stable, well integrated with the host country, and serves as a bridge in the traditional relations between the two countries. How do you evaluate the role of people-to-people exchanges and cultural connections through this community in promoting the friendship between the two countries?
In comparison to other Eastern European countries, Bulgaria has a small Vietnamese community. There are now around 1,000 persons, most of whom live and work in Sofia, with a few others in Pernik, Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Varna, Pleven, Ruse, and Vidin.
In general, the Vietnamese population in Bulgaria is cohesive, hardworking, adheres to local laws, and actively participates in events and movements initiated by domestic authorities and the Embassy.
Associations in the community, such as the Vietnamese Association, the Women's Association, and the Business Association, have been promoting their role of solidarity, bringing the masses together in the community, towards the homeland, as well as preserving and promoting traditional Vietnamese cultural identity in the local area.
|Bulgarian young people dressed in traditional Vietnamese costumes and danced to Vietnamese music. (Photo: Vietnamese Embassy in Bulgaria)
In recent years, community organizations and individuals have actively worked with the Embassy in organizing high-level foreign affairs activities, most recently activities within the context of the official visit to Bulgaria of Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue; promoted its role as a bridge to help boost people-to-people exchanges and promote Vietnamese culture in Bulgaria.
Some noteworthy actions of the Vietnamese community in Bulgaria in 2023 include associations proactively arranging meaningful activities for National Day, Lunar New Year, and other significant festivals such as War Invalids and Martyrs Day; reopening the summer Vietnamese language lessons for children; organizing cultural and sports festivals with the Vietnamese community in neighboring countries; organizing gift giving on Children's Day, Mid-Autumn Festival.
In February 2023, the Vietnamese Association in Bulgaria organized a charitable donation to help people in Turkey recover from the earthquake disaster, demonstrating the Vietnamese people's long tradition of mutual support, which is greatly appreciated by the people of Bulgaria and Turkey.
The Vietnamese Women's Association in Bulgaria founded the Lotus Dance Club, which frequently organizes rehearsal sessions for special performances such as hat dance, lotus dance, and fan dance, as well as participation in Asian cultural events. Ballet artist Tran Chung formed the Hat Dance Club in April 2023, consisting of Bulgarian students studying Vietnamese.
The image of Bulgarian young people dressed in traditional Vietnamese costumes and danced to Vietnamese music drew a lot of attention from the audience. Even though the Hat Club is still in its early stages, it has already received top honors at several Bulgarian art contests, including first place at the Pernik Morning Star National Dance Competition in April 2023 and second place at the Sozopol International Youth Art Festival in July 2023.
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