Sep 04, 2021 / 20:32

National Assembly Chairman Hue to tour Europe to enhance ties

Europeans are increasing their vaccine donations to Vietnam.

Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA) Vuong Dinh Hue will begin a one-week Europe tour on September 5 to enhance relations and vaccine diplomacy.

Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue. Photo: Quochoi

During the tour for the 5th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament (WCSP) held in Vienna, Austria, he is scheduled to work with representatives of the European Union (EU), the European Parliament (EP), Belgium, and Finland in an official visit paid to Helsinki.

Hue will also meet leaders of Austrian, Belgian, and Finnish parliaments with an expectation of getting approval of the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) by the three countries. 

This is the first visit to Europe paid by a Vietnamese leader over the past two years due to Covid-19.

Hue will be accompanied by some heads of the NA commissions, ministers of Planning and Investment, Industry and Trade, and Agriculture and Rural Development, among others.

He will join activities within the 5th WCSP held by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations together with 114 Speakers of Parliaments around the world. This is the first physical large-scale inter-parliamentary meeting since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

In the world’s largest gathering of the highest level of parliamentary representation, Hue will deliver a speech at the 5th WCSP, which will be held on September 7-8 themed “Parliamentary leadership for more effective multilateralism that delivers peace and sustainable development for the people and the planet.”

The participants are expected to focus on priorities that require urgent international parliamentary action including the global response to the pandemic and the post-Covid recovery, the climate emergency, countering misinformation, youth participation in politics, and gender equality.

During the stay in Vienna, Hue will have bilateral meetings with leaders of some big countries and UN bodies. The move is also aimed to boost vaccine diplomacy and lobby vaccines and medical equipment from countries, organizations, and businesses.

Vietnam’s vaccine diplomacy

Vietnam has boosted its vaccine diplomacy before the fresh coronavirus outbreak broke out in the country in late April. Since then, Vietnamese officials at home and abroad have been very active in lobbying for vaccine donations.

Le Hong Hiep, a senior fellow at the Vietnam Studies Program at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, said “Over the past few months, in every meeting with foreign counterparts, Vietnamese leaders all asked them to help Vietnam deal with the pandemic, especially by sharing vaccines.”

Regarding vaccine donation, EU nations have been fueling the recovery plans in Vietnam as this country is the largest trade partner in Southeast Asia and because of its increasingly important role in the Indo-Pacific region.

In the latest move, Germany will donate Vietnam 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, in addition to a batch of medical equipment, making it the largest EU donor of Covid relief to Vietnam. At present, Germany is Vietnam’s largest trade partner in Europe.

Last week, Italy and Romania were committed to providing a combined of more than one million doses to Vietnam. In previous weeks, Poland, Czech, Hungary, and France all gave doses to Hanoi.

Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor from the University of New South Wales in Australia, said “European states likely have a different mix of motivations that combine national interest and altruism.” “Providing donations of Covid vaccines to Vietnam is a logical response to these drivers,” DW cited him.

Nevertheless, Europeans are now repaying the charity Vietnam showed when the pandemic was raging through their countries last year. “In the early days of the pandemic, when Europe was in a worse situation, Vietnam was donating PPE and masks to many countries, including the European countries,” DW quoted Huong Le Thu, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

In April 2020, for instance, Vietnam donated more than 550,000 face masks to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain. In addition, a number of Vietnamese friendship associations and communities in Europe played key roles in donating protective equipment and raising money for local relief campaigns when the pandemic surged through Europe.

Vietnamese groups were particularly active in countries like the Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Poland, which have the largest Vietnamese diaspora communities in Europe. All four of these countries have now donated vaccines to Vietnam.