A week after presenting his credentials to Vietnam's State President Vo Van Thuong, newly-appointed French Ambassador Olivier Brochet shared with The Hanoi Times the potential for strengthened bilateral relations.
Drawing on his extensive professional background in culture and education, he expressed his commitment to fostering cultural cooperation and exchanges between the people of the two nations.
Exceptional importance in the hearts of the French people
It has been three weeks since you arrived in Vietnam to start your term. How do you feel about the country and its people?
Despite my recent arrival in Vietnam, I made a business trip to Ho Chi Minh City and took the time to visit famous places in Vietnam, such as Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) and Pu Luong (Thanh Hoa) as a tourist. These experiences were truly wonderful.
It fills me with great pride to accept the assignment in Vietnam in 2023, a profoundly significant period that marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations (April 13, 1973-2023) and commemorates the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Strategic Partnership (September 25, 2013-2023). Vietnam occupies a unique position in the affections of the French.
|Newly appointed French Ambassador to Vietnam Olivier Brochet. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times|
I plan to go to Haiphong and then return to Ho Chi Minh City for work. I will also be attending a major event in Hue later this year.
It is a glittering art festival that will serve as a dazzling finale to 2023, with a series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and France. French artists will also grace the stage in Hue at this event.
During my term in office, I am enthusiastic about delving into Vietnamese culture.
As a politician specializing in managing cultural and educational sectors, how do you assess the status of cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two nations?
Vietnam and France both value their cultural identities while developing as nations.
France strongly advocates promoting diversity rather than homogenizing cultural models. We perceive culture as a milieu for partners to convene, interact, and construct an improved world.
Over time, cultural cooperation between the two countries has deepened and broadened. This will mark the next phase of the cultural partnership between Vietnam and France.
I would like to mention two examples: the Hue Festival and the recently concluded Photo Hanoi'23 Biennale in Hanoi. These are two very successful events that have attracted public attention.
The Hue Festival was originally a joint program between France and Vietnam. At present, Thua Thien-Hue Province is actively leading the organization of this event.
On the other hand, the French Institute aims to provide technical expertise to Photo Hanoi to ensure that it goes beyond Franco-Vietnamese cooperation and becomes an international event with Hanoi as its center.
Priorities of cooperation
How do you see the prospects for cooperation between Vietnam and France in the foreseeable future?
The relationship between Vietnam and France is a very special friendship. Throughout history, the people of both countries have maintained a strong desire to understand each other.
The relationship between the two countries has seen significant growth and accomplished many achievements in various fields. Currently, France holds the position of the second largest investor in Vietnam within the European Union (EU), resulting in the creation of 50,000 job opportunities for the local workforce.
|Photo Hanoi'23 Biennale is an international photography festival that made headlines in Hanoi this year. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times|
Vietnam is also the country that receives a significant number of scholarships from France and boasts the highest number of schools in Asia that meet the standards of "FrancÉducation".
Several French cooperation mechanisms are actively working in line with Vietnam's development goals. The French Development Agency (AFD) has allocated about EUR2 billion (US$2.11 billion) to Vietnam in various sectors. In addition, the French Institute in Vietnam has organized various cultural and educational activities for students.
Over the past three decades, France has attracted a significant influx of Vietnamese students, reaching the tens of thousands.
French research organizations cooperate with Vietnamese partners in science, technology, agriculture, and health. These activities are bringing the French and Vietnamese closer together.
Could you elaborate on the main areas of Vietnam-France cooperation during your tenure?
We have four major priorities to strengthen the special friendship and to support Vietnam's development.
The first strategy is to help Vietnam respond to global challenges, especially climate change. We aim to achieve a state of net zero emissions by 2050, as promised at climate change conferences.
The second is to support Vietnam's economic growth and ensure compliance with social, legal, and environmental regulations. In this regard, we can benefit from new cooperation frameworks such as the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement.
The third objective is to strengthen cooperation between companies from both countries and facilitate the introduction of high-quality French products to the Vietnamese market.
Finally, the goal is to strengthen cooperation between the two nations on the global stage to uphold and promote the shared values of both parties, including respect for international law and the protection of national sovereignty.
Thank you for your time!