French region values co-operation with Vietnamese localities
(VNA): "We are proud of being one of the first French localities to set up relations with Vietnam," Alain Berteaux,a member of the Nord Pas de Calais regional Council told a Vietnam News Agency reporter.
Mr Berteaux, who joined of the first fact-finding visit by a Nord Pas de Calais's delegation to Vietnam 12 years ago, attended a conference on decentralised co-operation between Vietnamese and French localities held in Hue city on June 16-17.
Recalling the visit, Mr Berteaux said, "We wanted to assist poor countries that were carrying out reforms, well aware that mutual assistance for sustainable development was the key to successful co-operation. Vietnam was our choice.
He said the Nord Pas de Calais region chose three central provinces - Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam and Da Nang - as partners because these localities suffered from not only heavy destruction as a result of the war, but also severe weather conditions. "The difficulties of people in the central region that we witnessed did not discourage us, but on the contrary urged us to do more to help them have a better life."
The first agreement between Nord Pas de Calais and these three Vietnamese central provinces was signed on August 29, 1993 in Lille city. Ten years later, the two sides inked more co-operation agreements for the following four years and framework regulations for co-operation on provincial and regional levels.
According to Mr Berteaux, his region's projects in central Vietnam have covered many fields, from urban environment and natural environment preservation to the improvement of hygienic and health care services development of tourism and the local economy, cultural heritage preservation and rural development. "These projects have always been combined with training for local officials for long-term development," he stressed.
In 1997, Nord Pas de Calais set up its office in Hue city, the first representative office of a French region in Southeast Asia. The event, Mr Berteaux said, once again reflected region's wish for close co-operation.
Since 1994, Nord Pas de Calais has granted EUR 6 million to the three central provinces of Vietnam. In the 2003-2005 period alone, 32 bilateral projects have been carried out with a total capital of EUR 2 million. Worthy of note are the projects to upgrade the drainage system in Hue city, set up credit funds for rural development, conduct research into recycling plastic waste manufacture, nutritious powder for children, and re-plant forests in the three provinces.
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