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President: Collective strength will be decisive in 2008

Collective strength will be decisive to the nation's success in the New Year, President Nguyen Minh Triet has told the Vietnam News Agency. The full text of the interview given at the approach of the Lunar New Year, Tet, is published below.

Reporter: As President, what is your view of the international community’s response to Viet Nam's message, “Peace, friendship, co-operation and development” that was delivered by Viet NamCommunist Party and State representatives during their travels throughout last year?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: “Peace, friendship, co-operation and development,” is the message Viet Nam wants to send the world. We want to befriend all nations based on the principle of respect for independence, sovereignty and self-determination. Our diplomacy shows that the message is highly appreciated. Many countries and international organisations have shown their trust and confidence in Viet Nam. They are willing to share their experiences, support and encourage Viet Nam.
The major diplomatic achievements of last year were Viet Nam's election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council; the strong commitment of international donors to the provision of Official Development Assistance, ODA, and the rapid increasing in the flow of the Foreign Direct Investment, FDI.
As a result, Viet Nam’s international prestige and status have risen strongly.
The international community acknowledges Viet Namas a safe, attractive destination of dynamic economic development. They have expressed their affection and admiration for the country and want to co-operate, exchange and share their experiences with us.
These achievements are the sum of successes achieved over many years and include the years of struggle for national liberation and the present struggle for national construction.

Reporter: How would you describe Viet Nam's socio-economic achievements one year after admittance to the World Trade Organisation?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: The country’s economy underwent comprehensive development last year. The Asian Development Bank lists Viet Nam among the regional countries with the highest economic growth. The FDI and ODA committed by international donors was a record and much higher than 2006.
The people’s living conditions were stabilised and continued to improve. This improvement applies to most rural dwellers despite difficulties that included increases in the consumer’s price index and low agricultural productivity in regions afflicted by natural disasters.
The success can be attributed to the effort of the entire society together with the Party and Government’s policies that encourage farmers to expand commodity production to generate more income.
The effort was decisive to the success of the nation.
Advanced science and technology from beyond Viet Namis necessary, but if we don’t have the capacity to absorb it, the potential advantage will quickly slip away and could become a hurdle to progress. We have passed through the first year of WTO membership – a year that was filled with difficulties and challenges.
We’re happy and proud of these great achievements, but we must not become self-satisfied and subjective.
Many difficulties and challenges are ahead. We’ve recorded high economic growth, but the rate is not really stable. Our national reserves are limited and economic competitiveness weak. The global rise in the cost of oil and gold has had an immediate impact on the economy. The impact is less for countries with strong economies. This makes it imperative to identify our weaknesses and limitations to devise ways to overcome them.

Reporter: GDP growth last year was the highest for the decade but the urban-rural gap widened. Will the Party and Government initiate new measures to narrow it?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: Urban-rural disparities face many countries during development. The Party and Government have, and will, continue to work to reduce poverty and provide education, health care and rural development.
It will maintain traditional culture to the benefit of the entire society as well social benefits in the effort to minimise the gap between the rich and the poor.
We’ve been successful in the fight against poverty and this is acknowledged and appreciated by the international community. But it's an on-going task. We’ll continue with development but pay more attention to quality in the immediate future. I'm convinced that with the combined effort of the Party, the State and the entire society – together with the support and help of kind-hearted inside and outside the country as well as international organisations, the national poverty-reduction programme will attain even more success. Our people’s living conditions will be improved.

Reporter: 2008 has been described as the pivotal year for Viet Nam's five year socio-economic plan to 2010. What are our advantages and disadvantages?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: The achievements of the past 20 years of doi moi (renewal), including those of last year, have fostered a firm foundation as well as confidence, unity and happiness among the people in the programme of national construction and development.
We have enjoyed many new advantages but also faced many difficulties and challenges in the process of global economic integration and international co-operation. The most critical threat would be subjective, rather than objective thinking. In addition, there could be hidden factors that could have a negative impact on economic development, despite continued economic growth in the region and the world.
As a result, the entire Party, the people and the armed forces must seize all opportunities and overcome all difficulties and challenges to meet the key targets set for in the five year plan to 2010 this year.
Immediate tasks include: The mobilisation of all resources for development investment while trying to raise the competitiveness and sustainability of the economy and surpass the bench mark of a “low-income developing country” in 2008.
Quicker administrative reform and intensification of the fight against corruption and waste and foster the practice of thrift.
The satisfactory resolution of issues relating to culture, society and environmental protection.
The firm protection of national sovereignty, political security and law and order.
Be active and pro-active in international economic integration and co-operation.

Reporter: The acquisition of land for industrial and urban development has led to the loss of land by farmers and continuous petitions. In your opinion, what is at the heart of the issue and what measures can the Party and State take to settle it?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: It's inevitable that a proportion of agricultural land will be lost in industrial development. This has affected the lives of some farmers. In some places, land acquisition and compensation has not been done in a transparent way. This has created anxiety among the people and prompted petitions.
The Party and Government’s policies are to have good planning that is made public. When planning, we have to think thoroughly about land use, which is to be used for industrial development, urban development or agricultural production. When farmers are re-settled, we have to ensure that the conditions must at least match those they have left in all aspects of culture and spirit, schools and hospitals. It is also important to provide vocational training and create jobs for farmers who have lost their land. Compensation is only one of the many factors. More important is to provide facilities for work, study and health care in the place where people live.
If we do this well, I think the people will be happy.

Reporter: What do your view of the progress made with judicial reform during the last year?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: Viet Nam Communist Party Political Bureau Resolution 49 NQ/TU dealing with the "Judicial Reform Strategy to 2020” has been executed nationwide. It's a long-term strategy. Central and local Judicial Steering Committees have developed road maps for implementation of the resolution. The immediate priorities are the continuation and perfection of supplementary rules and regulations for existing laws; the promotion of legal supervision; court procedures; the role of lawyers at court hearings and the capacity building of judicial staff.
We have to provide training that will consolidate the competency of judicial staff and make them aware of the importance of work ethics.
We should review existing legal documents to ensure they meet requirements.

Reporter: What are your thoughts about the fight against corruption last year?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: With the high determination of the Party and Government and the full participation of the whole political system and the active support of the people, I must say the fight against corruption has achieved some initial success. Many corruption cases have been exposed and duly punished. As the result, we have restored the people confidence in our resolve to fight against corruption.
In order to prevent and step by step to push back corruption and waste, the Central Steering Board, the Viet Nam Fatherland Front and other organisations have co-ordinated to encourage and facilitate conditions for people to get involve in the fight.
Corruption prevention and combating is the work of all sectors and the entire society. It is one of the important tasks of all agencies, enterprises and organisations, so the leaders must be in the forefront and take specific and practical plans of actions. Offices and units are cells of the society. So if the fight is well carried out in each unit, it will effectively contribute to the common fight against corruption.

Reporter: Overseas Vietnamese abroad have contributed sizeably to the cause of national construction and development. On the occasion of the Lunar New Year, do you want send any message to them?

President Nguyen Minh Triet: Overseas Vietnamese abroad is an integral part of the Vietnamese nation. They have contributed to our country’s great achievements over the last decades. The Party and Government’s policies and guidelines have always embraced Vietnamese people living inside and outside the country and want the latter to further contribute to national construction and to share opportunities and challenges facing the country.
Promising opportunities have presented to our homeland – Viet Nam. We need to mobilise all resources for development. It is my wish that Vietnamese living abroad will join hand with your fellow countrymen at home to contribute your knowledge and strengths that are within your ability to make a strong and powerful Viet Nam with a strong international profile.
For young Overseas Vietnamese, I want you to enhance the fine traditions of the old generations and cultivate in yourselves a pride of the nation and always turn your hearts to the homeland.
I wish you many successes in your lives so that in the future you can contribute more to the country. The Party and Government will do all what they can to facilitate conditions to seal the bond between you and the homeland.
On the occasion of the Lunar New Year (the Year of the Pig), I would like to extend to all Vietnamese living and working abroad the best season greetings. Enhancing the national tradition of patriotism, indomitable revolutionary spirit, hard working, creativity and dynamism, in entering the year 2008 the whole Party, people and armed forces are resolved to create new motivation and new successes.
We’re determined to follow the path of industrialisation and modernisation and pursue the renewal process so that our country will be soon lifted from the list of less-developed countries to reach our goal of “a prosperous people, a strong nation and an equal, democratic and civilised society.”

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