31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Aug 02, 2022 / 00:00

Greece hails Vietnam’s role in region

Vietnam is regarded as an interesting interlocutor for Greece in Southeast Asia.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, in remarks made during his visit to Hanoi, highlighted Vietnam’s growing role in the region and the world, wishing to enhance relations with Vietnam in Greece’s diplomacy towards the Asia-Pacific region.

  Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Hanoi on August 1. Photo: VNA

Greece treasured Vietnam’s role and position in the region, FM Dendias shared the view during the meetings with Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son on August 1.

“I believe that Vietnam, a country of 100 million people, with a thriving economy of almost US$400 billion, constitutes an interesting interlocutor for Greece in the Southeast Asian region; and that it would be highly beneficial to broaden and deepen our relations,” the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) cited Dendias.

FM Dendias’ visit to Vietnam follows tours of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou in May and of Vietnamese Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan to Athens in November 2021.

During his stay in Vietnam, Dendias and Vietnamese leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including constructive talks on Greece-Vietnam’s economic relations, the EU-Vietnam cooperation, and the shared commitment to the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He said Vietnam is not only a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) but also an active member of the Group of Friends of UNCLOS.

“In this regard, we, Greece, and Vietnam have agreed to hold close consultations on the Law of the Sea, to better understand each other’s positions, and to work together for the development of the International Law of the Sea and its implementation on the global level,” he said in a statement.

 Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh hosts Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Hanoi on August 1. Photo: VGP

Referring to his meeting with Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son, he said the two FMs agreed that their nations should have frequent discussions about UNCLOS in order to comprehend one another’s viewpoints and collaborate on the Law of the Sea’s advancement and global application.

During the meeting between the FMs, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Diplomatic Academies of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries was signed.

At the meeting, Son suggested the two countries boost cooperation in the maritime economy, transportation, seaport, and food processing, expecting Greece to open market for Vietnamese agricultural products to be available at Greek supermarkets.

The Vietnamese FM said the two sides should soon sign agreements on Shipping and Double Taxation Avoidance, at the same time, Vietnam expected Greece to lobby the EU to soon remove the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing yellow card for Vietnamese aquatic products.

Discussing the upcoming cooperation, Dendias suggested that the two countries should maintain cooperation mechanisms, including political consultations between the two foreign ministries and localities. He expressed his desire to erect a monument of President Ho Chi Minh in Greece; and affirmed his commitment that would lobby the EU countries to soon ratify the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA).

Aside from that, the two sides also discussed another round of collaboration in education and sports. On this occasion, Dendias presented the Vietnamese National Olympic Committee with financial aid from the MFA. The €50,000 ($51,000) aid was handed over to the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Dao Cuong, with whom Dendias held a meeting to discuss bilateral cooperation. 

  Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and his Greece counterpart Nikolaos Dendias. Photo: Baoquocte

Symbol of relations

During his stay in Hanoi, the Greek minister also laid a wreath at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in Hanoi.

On this occasion, the two sides discussed the transfer of the ashes of Kostas Sarantidis who fought on the side of the Vietnamese army during the first Indochina war to free Vietnam from French colonialism.

Kostas Sarantidis Nguyen Van Lap, who has dual Greek and Vietnamese citizenship, is fondly remembered by the Vietnamese. Born in 1927 in Thessaloniki, Sarantidis arrived in Indochina in February 1946 and soon fought on the side of the Vietnamese people until the defeat of the French in 1954. He was then discharged from the military with the rank of captain and lived in Vietnam until 1965 when he returned to Greece.

Upon his repatriation to Greece, he helped promote Greece-Vietnam relations. He wrote books and was instrumental in raising funds for thousands of victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Vietnam. In 2013, he was named Hero of the People’s Armed Forces. He has been the only foreigner bestowed this title.

The memorial service for Kostas Nguyen Van Lap will take place at 8:00 AM on August 2 at the Military Zone 5, Danang City, Vietnam. He will be buried at Military Zone 5 Cemetery, Danang, according to the Vietnamese Quan Doi Nhan Dan newspaper.

 Kostas Sarantidis Nguyen Van Lap. Photo: Quan Doi Nhan Dan