Vietnam Commemorates 50 Years of French Amity

On March 31, a seminar exploring the intricate connections between Vietnam and France over the past 50 years was held in Montpellier, located in the south of France. Researchers from both countries emphasized the legacy of history, culture, and people, which have been instrumental in strengthening the strategic partnership between the two nations.

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The seminar titled “Vietnam-France relations: From War to Peace” was recently held in Montpellier as part of a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations (1973-2023) and 10th anniversary of strategic partnership (2013-2023). This seminar explored the historical heritage of the Vietnam-France relationship and the challenges of the 21st century.

The seminar was attended by Vietnamese Ambassador to France Dinh Toan Thang, numerous scholars, diplomats, and experts from a variety of fields from both countries.

Vietnam Celebrates 50 Years of French Friendship
Overview of the seminar “Vietnam-France relations: From war to peace”. (Photo: NDO)

As the organizer and facilitator, Professor Pierre Journoud, a lecturer in contemporary history at Paul-Valéry Montpellier University 3 (France), emphasized the importance of this opportunity to discuss significant milestones in the long-standing friendship and multifaceted collaboration between the two countries.

In the seminar, French and Vietnamese experts discussed and reviewed key milestones from the long and varied history of the relationship between the two countries. They carefully examined significant events that have shaped the bond between France and Vietnam over the years.

After the signing of the Gevène Agreement in 1954, both sides overcame many challenges and the ups and downs of history to head towards a better relationship built on trust and attachment.

France played a pivotal role in negotiating and signing the Paris Agreement of January 1973, which ended the war and restored peace in Vietnam. This was followed by the two countries establishing diplomatic relations in April of the same year.

This visit opened a new chapter in the bilateral relationship, marked by the signing of a cooperation agreement in economy, culture, science, and technology.

After 1975, the Vietnam-France relationship was significantly strengthened and broadened in many different areas. A significant milestone in this process was Prime Minister Pham Van Dong’s visit to France in April 1977. This visit opened a new chapter in bilateral relations, which was marked by the signing of a cooperation agreement in the areas of economy, culture, science, and technology.

In the 1980s, when Vietnam was under siege and embargo, France was the only Western nation to sustain ties with the country through scientific and technical collaboration, as well as cultural exchanges.

Since 1989, France has been at the forefront of sustained cooperation and exchange with Vietnam. This has included clearing debts on behalf of Vietnam and helping Vietnam settle debts with member countries of the Paris Club. In February 1993, French President François Mitterrand made history as the first Western leader to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. His visit marked a significant milestone in the two countries’ diplomatic relations.

Both countries have made unceasing efforts to foster and strengthen friendship and cooperation in diverse areas.

France is always a prominent partner of Vietnam in Europe and around the world. As a result, France highly values Vietnam’s presence in the region and its alignment with France’s strategies and policies in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

At the seminar, renowned experts expressed that the shared aspirations and collaborative endeavors of the two nations over the past half-century have enabled their friendship and cooperation to steadily progress, expand, and diversify, which culminated in the signing of a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013.

Vietnam Celebrates 50 Years of French Friendship
Professor Pierre Journoud, Lecturer in Contemporary History, Paul-Valéry Montpellier University 3 (France). (Photo: NDO)
According to Vietnamese Ambassador to France Dinh Toan Thang, the past 50 years is a journey with a long history in Vietnam-France diplomatic relations. The great potential in the friendship and cooperation between the two countries requires that both sides have coherent policies, smooth and effective coordination of the whole system from the central government to localities, associations and individuals.

Ambassador Dinh Toan Thang highlighted the importance of roundtable seminars in the past and for the future, as they provide us with a platform to generate new ideas and take decisive actions to further boost Vietnam-France relations. He asserted that these events will be a key factor in promoting bilateral ties.

The year 2023 marks a special milestone in the friendship and cooperation between the two countries, offering an opportunity to assess the challenges and areas in which further cooperation is needed.

According to Professor Pierre Journoud, there exists a great opportunity for both sides to collaborate and promote economic growth. To further this goal, it is essential to motivate entrepreneurs and startups to invest in Vietnam, while also encouraging the import and export of Vietnamese products, such as garments, into the French market.

Besides, Vietnam and France can further deepen their strategic partnership by establishing working groups to collaborate on various topics and develop constructive proposals for both governments.

He also believed that both countries had made great strides in strengthening their relationship, but there was still much progress to be made in order to further solidify their strategic partnership.

Vietnam Celebrates 50 Years of French Friendship
The Vietnam Sea and Islands Exhibition is organized by the Montpellier city government in collaboration with the Paul Valery Montpellier School 3 and the Vietnamese Cultural Center in France. (Photo: NDO)

On the same day, the Montpellier City Government joined forces with the Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 University and the Vietnamese Cultural Center in France to organize an exhibition showcasing the beauty and grandeur of Vietnam’s seas and islands. The event was a great success, with attendees praising the fascinating displays, captivating talks, and immersive interactive activities. It was an opportunity for locals and visitors alike to learn about the unique marine environment and the diverse cultures of Vietnam’s archipelagos.

Speaking at the exhibition, Vice President of Montpellier Urban Cluster Clare Hart highly praised the friendly and cooperative relationship between the two countries in general and between the city and Vietnamese localities in particular, particularly in the fields of economic, cultural, and educational cooperation.

Since the end of 2022, many events have been held in French localities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and 10th anniversary of the strategic partnership between the two countries. This is an important milestone in the history of the two nations, and these events have allowed them to celebrate their rich culture and unique friendship. From concerts and plays to exhibitions and workshops, these festivities have been a great way to honor the strong bond between France and its neighbor. It has been an incredible experience for both countries, and a testament to the strength of their relationship.

The celebration occurred in a variety of forms to commemorate the journey of the Vietnam-France friendship and cooperation over the past 50 years and to consider the potential in all fields, including politics and economics, culture, education, science and technology, as well as the Vietnamese community in France.

The results of the recent activities demonstrate the fervent zeal and strong connection that the French counterparts have for the diplomatic ties between the two nations, as well as their aspiration to advance the bilateral relations to the next level of growth in light of the world’s drastic changes.

Tracy Dao