The newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn talks to local media on his new role and the foreign policy priorities needed to aid Việt Nam’s development and raise the country’s international standing
How do you feel knowing you will be the next foreign minister of Việt Nam?
After Prime Minister Chính’s nomination naming me as new foreign minister was adopted by the National Assembly, I felt immense pride but I’m aware this will be heavy responsibilities.
I have worked in foreign affairs for more than 35 years. Along with the staff of the foreign ministry and other relevant ministries, we have strived to fulfill our missions. And now, I will lead the efforts to uphold the foreign affairs’ cherished tradition since the first foundation was laid by the late President Hồ Chí Minh.
I’m proud that our country is enjoying unprecedented profile and strength. As our power and strength grows, so does our voice.
The foreign ministry will continue to be the pioneering force in the joint efforts with other relevant parties to obtain foreign policy targets, especially via Party diplomacy, State diplomacy and people diplomacy.
I am committed to fulfil my role to realise the Party and the people’s aspirations and vision of “prosperous people, strong nation and a democratic, equal and civilised society.”
What will be the foreign ministry’s priority areas in the future?
I am lucky to assume the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs when the 13th National Party Congress has concluded and the adopted resolutions have clearly stated our country’s foreign policy.
Việt Nam is consistent with its foreign policy of independence, sovereignty, peace, cooperation and development, diversification and multilateralisation, of proactive and active in-depth and comprehensive international integration. Việt Nam stands ready to be a trusted friend and partner to all countries in the international community, with the spirit of cooperation, respect for international law, fairness and win-win policies.
In this regard, as leader of the foreign ministry, I think that in the future, the Party’s foreign policy could be materialised in four priorities.
First , we would focus on deepening our relations with all important partners of Việt Nam, especially neighbouring countries, countries with which we have strategic partnership and comprehensive partnership, and traditional friends. When the relations between Việt Nam and these countries are well and good, the goal of maintaining a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment could be secured.
Second , the foreign ministry should focus on national development, keeping in mind that political and cultural diplomacy, or overseas Vietnamese policies all serve the goal of contributing to national development. Economic diplomacy will naturally be a key pillar, attracting foreign resources to either add to or complement domestic resources and factors. International integration will help Việt Nam realise its aspirations and objectives.
Our 96 representative missions overseas will learn and share experience and practices of host countries in terms of growth models, strive to strengthen investment cooperation and attract Official Development Aid (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI). More importantly, in the context of the fourth industrial revolution, the foreign ministry must lead the way, opening up the entry to different markets as well as our own domestic market, bringing the latest technology of the revolution into the digital transformation and sustainable development of Việt Nam.
Third , with the elevated international profile of Việt Nam, we have to continue to proactively and actively participate in multilateral forums and organisations, which will allow us to take part in the shaping and development of rules. Also, as a responsible member of the international community, we would propose initiatives to help further promote the standing of the country.
In the short-term, Việt Nam must successfully complete its role as the President of the UN Security Council in April and a non-permanent member of the council in 2021.
In addition, Việt Nam has been and will continue to actively participate in other activities of the UN, including peacekeeping operations.
The foreign affairs sector will work closely with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Public Security, and other ministries and agencies to actively participate in different activities, not only at the UN, but also in regional ones by ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), ASEAM (Asia-Europe Meeting) and other regional organisations and forums.
Fourth, citizen protection efforts for the 5.3 million and growing Vietnamese nationals staying or living overseas. In recent times, this work has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have done our best.
We consider citizen protection work a key task to maintain the connection between overseas and the homeland. This is also the State’s policy towards Vietnamese overseas community.
The overseas Vietnamese can be safely repatriated or if they choose to stay, Vietnamese representative offices overseas would also offer appropriate support for them to help maintain the Vietnamese culture, Vietnamese language command, integrate with the local society while keeping in touch with their Vietnamese heritage to nurture their desire to help develop the homeland. — VNS