Viet Nam becomes one of Czech aid's biggest recipients, says diplomat
Ha Noi (VNA) - Viet Nam is one of the biggest recipients of Czech development and humanitarian aid, Czech Ambassador to Viet Nam Ivo Zdarek told Viet Nam News Agency reporters in an exclusive interview celebrating 55 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
According to the diplomat, since 1997, the Czech Republic has attended donor conferences in Viet Nam and abroad, and Viet Nam has become a priority country of the Czech Republic's long-term development cooperation.
After Czechoslovakia split in 1993, the Czech Republic declared its interest in further developing mutual relations, he said, adding that Viet Nam recognised the Czech Republic immediately after its establishment and both states retained their diplomatic missions at the embassy level.
Ambassador Zdarek said bilateral economic cooperation has a long-standing tradition and is based on both countries' international economic integration. Bilateral trade ties have seen unceasing development. The main Czech exports are machinery products, tools, glassware, dried milk, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, while Viet Nam exports mostly raw materials, clothing, footwear, rubber and foodstuff.
In the first 11 months of 2004, two-way trade reached 98.5 million USD, of which Czech exports constituted 18.3 million USD and Vietnamese exports, 80.2 million USD. However, its volume still does not correspond to the potential of commercial ties, the diplomat further said.
He went on to say that the Czech Republic joining the European Union in May 2004 will be a positive step for further advancing mutual economic and commercial ties and create new conditions for closer cooperation in all fields.
The Ambassador said that although bilateral culture, educational and scientific cooperation is moderate it nevertheless has witnessed visible achievements. Since 2001, the Czech Republic has attended the EU countries' annual international jazz festivals in Ha Noi. Vietnamese children have participated regularly in the international painting contest, "Lidice", bringing home awards every year.
Besides, he added, the Czech government continues to provide stipends for Vietnamese students and the Charles University in Prague gives lectures on Vietnamese studies for Czech students.
He stressed that active bilateral contacts are realised on the non-governmental basis and by friendship groups in both countries, but the substantial contribution to these contacts has been made by the large Vietnamese community of about 100,000 people who had studied and worked in the former Czechoslovakia. Most of them can still speak Czech and have not forgotten their "second homeland". Additionally, about 40,000 Vietnamese currently live and work in the Czech Republic and lead an active and prosperous life. Many Vietnamese entrepreneurs not only do thriving business between both countries but also contribute heavily to Czech GDP. They thus represent a "bridge" to further tightening the two countries' ties, he affirmed.