Vietnam-Italy Ties: Solid Foundation Built from Small Bricks

Cooperation between Vietnam and Italy has been reinforced in various fields, such as the economy, national defence, justice, and the environment.

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Renato Darsie (R), Chairman of the Italy - Vietnam Friendship Sub-Association in Veneto, presents the right to use the Vietnamese cultural centre to a representative of Vietnamese students in May 2022. Photo: VNA
Renato Darsie (R), Chairman of the Italy – Vietnam Friendship Sub-Association in Veneto, presents the right to use the Vietnamese cultural centre to a representative of Vietnamese students in May 2022. Photo: VNA

With multiple-year experiences, the Italy – Vietnam friendship sub-associations in regions of the European country can make practical contributions to the friendship and cooperation between the two countries by providing information on Vietnam to Italian people and businesses, said Renato Darsie, Chairman of the Italy – Vietnam Friendship Sub-Association in the Veneto region, in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency.

He described the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship (March 23, 1973 – 2023) as an important milestone marking the growing friendship and political, economic, and cultural ties between the two countries.

Bilateral relations over the last 50 years are those of solidarity and friendship across the board as seen in the Italian people’s assistance to Vietnam during the resistance wars against the French colonialists and UN imperialists, along with mutual support in the international arena on the basis of common interests.

Since the elevation of relationship to a strategic partnership in 2012, cooperation has been thriving in all spheres. Bilateral trade rose to USD 6.2 billion in 2022 from USD 1.4 billion in 2013. Collaboration in education and training remains one of the priorities as both sides have been facilitating links between their universities and educational establishments, according to Darsie.

He went on to say that to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, the Italy – Vietnam Friendship Sub-Association in Veneto will send a delegation to the Southeast Asian nation this April to help its members learn more about the local culture and history.

It is also working with the Italian and Vietnamese embassies in the two countries to carry out some initiatives, including holding a Vietnamese culture week in Venice in June.

Also in the Italian city this October, the sub-association and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice will release a study of tides on rivers in Ho Chi Minh City. The study, conducted in coordination with the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment, will help the southern metropolis of Vietnam cope with flooding.

The school, which also organises courses on the Vietnamese language and history, is also planning to introduce a study on the country’s traditional music, the Chairman noted.

As Vietnam is now in an economic boom, Italy should boost cooperation with Vietnam, especially in investment, he suggested, adding that Italian enterprises boast advantages for investing in Vietnam since both countries share many similarities, from population, climate, geographical locations to cuisine, as well as the close-knit ties between the two peoples.

Vietnam should also invite experts in the fields Italy is strong at to help with specialised issues during each economic development stage, he recommended.

In 2013, Darsie was honoured with the Vietnamese State’s Friendship Order in recognition of his tireless contributions to the countries’ solidarity, friendship, and cooperation.

At the meeting between Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni in Brussels on December 14, 2022 on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Commemoration Summit. Photo: VNA
At the meeting between Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni in Brussels on December 14, 2022 on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Commemoration Summit. Photo: VNA

Meanwhile, Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro cited Italian President Sergio Mattarella’s words as saying that the relationship between the two countries “strongly rooted in history” while granting an interview to VNA on the occasion of the 50th founding anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.

Accordingly, President Mattarella congratulate the two countries for their relationship, “strongly rooted in history” and at the same time “directed with confidence towards the future”. These words express very well the idea that the 50th anniversary is not only a great achievement, considering the long journey that both Countries have made since the seventies, but also a platform to let our friendship grow further and face together the great global challenges, like climate change in particular, the diplomat said.

Italy and Vietnam can intensify the exchange of delegations, high level visits, business forums, cultural exhibitions, and joint academic research.

Secondly, the two countries should further promote the flow of trade and investments.

Thirdly, we should increase the tourism flows in both directions, as discussed recently during the embassy’s presentation of the Ryder Cup, the most important international golf tournament that will take place in Rome in September this year.

Finally, Italy and Vietnam are members respectively of the EU and ASEAN. The two countries should increasingly give a regional perspective to their relations.

The Italian Embassy in Vietnam held a ceremony in Hanoi on March 23 to mark the 50th anniversary of Vietnam-Italy diplomatic ties. Photo: VNA
The Italian Embassy in Vietnam held a ceremony in Hanoi on March 23 to mark the 50th anniversary of Vietnam-Italy diplomatic ties. Photo: VNA

Regarding major events in the series of activities celebrating the 50th anniversary, the Embassy is supporting the Saigon Philarmonic Orchestra in setting up the first Opera production after several decades. The “Cavalleria Rusticana”, by famous composer Pietro Mascagni, will be performed at the Hanoi Opera House on April 15-16. This would be one of the highlights of our program, which also includes an exhibition on industrial manufacturing, a show of contemporary ballet by the Italian company “Artemis Danza” and the Italian film festival.

Despite ups and downs in the world situation over the past 50 years, the relationship between Vietnam and Italy has still developed positively and comprehensively with in-depth cooperation in all fields, both bilaterally and multilaterally, especially after they lifted their ties to a strategic partnership 10 years ago, according to Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Duong Hai Hung.

During his Vietnam visit in November 2016, Italian President Sergio Mattarella expressed his impression at the beauty and dynamic development of Vietnam. In his recent congratulation letter to President Vo Van Thuong, he also showed hope to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, said Ambassador Hung.

He underlined that economy is a bright spot in the bilateral relations. At the same time, bilateral cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science – technology, tourism, people-to-people exchanges and many others has also continued to develop positively, the ambassador said.

He noted that the two countries have regularly organised cultural activities in the other. Since 2002, the Italian Government has helped Vietnam in the restoration and preservation of the My Son Sanctuary, a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Ambassador Hung also highlighted activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam-Italy diplomatic relations and the 10-year strategic partnership this year within the Vietnam-Italy Year 2023 with the theme “Sincere-Understanding-Cooperation”. The activities will be held in many big cities of Italy such as Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice and Napoli throughout the year, covering many areas including art, culture, tourism and economy, he said.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Duong Hai Hung. Photo: VNA
Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Duong Hai Hung. Photo: VNA

Regarding Vietnamese Embassy’s plan to foster bilateral cooperation this year and beyond, Ambassador Hung said that the embassy will continue to coordinate with relevant agencies to organise visits and delegation exchanges between the two countries and other important events.

As the Chair of the ASEAN Committee in Roma in the first half of 2023, the embassy will focus on promoting ASEAN solidarity, visibility and centrality.

It will also work to connect agencies and localities of the two sides, while contributing to optimising the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and hastening the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Investment Promotion Agreement (EVIPA), removing the EC’s yellow card against Vietnamese seafood, and supporting Vietnam’s stance on the East Sea issue, he said.

Ambassador Hung said that the embassy will also focus on strengthening economic and cultural diplomacy and continue to support Vietnamese citizens in the country.

Hannah Nguyen