Transparent institutions the secret of successful transition

Published: 08/11/2009 05:00

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The key to success, as Vietnam transforms its economy, is strong, transparent institutions, visionary leadership and strict enforcement of the law, the Hungarian Ambassador told VietNamNet.

The Hungarian Ambassador and VietNamNet’s Bui Viet Lam.

VietNamNet’s Bui Viet Lam: Welcome to VietNamNet, Mr. Ambassador! Vietnam and Hungary are about to celebrate the 67th anniversary of diplomatic relations next February. In the hearts and minds of many Vietnamese, Hungary has been a close friend, especially in difficult periods. However, after the cold war ended, the bilateral ties have seemed to cool. What should we do to warm up relations?

Ambassador Lazlo Vizi: I only partly agree with you. I think the friendship and the mutual understanding between the two countries have been maintained, even at the moment that you mentioned – the 1990s.

At that time, both countries attached importance to internal development and re-arrangement of bilateral ties. Hungary changed its economic system and international relationships. Vietnam has had the same experience since 1986, with the renovation process. Vietnam was also busy with its internal economic policies and also adjusted diplomatic relationships.

The 1990s, therefore, was a decade of reducing concern for foreign affairs in both countries. Since the 21st century began, relations between our countries have deepened and expanded to new areas.

VietNamNet: Which are the growth areas for economic relations?

Ambassador Vizi: In the 1970s and 1980s many Hungarian products appeared in the Vietnamese market, for example medicines and agricultural products. These goods still have a firm foothold in Vietnam.

There are two Hungarian pharmaceutical companies in HCM City. We are also glad to see Hungarian traditional agricultural products in Vietnam, like salami. Many Hungarian firms have opportunities to transfer technology, machinery and equipment to Vietnam. This is very important for the bilateral ties in the future.

Not only traditional products but some specialized IT solutions have entered Vietnam from Hungary. Further, we are experienced in building water treatment systems.

Hungary is among tourist attractions in the world. Tourism in Vietnam is developing quickly. The prospect for cooperation in this field is huge. Vietnam participated in the Hungary Tourism Exhibition in 2008.

In early 2009, some Hungarian journalists and businesses came to Vietnam to attend an export exhibition in Hanoi. These are the foundations for our bigger cooperation in the future.

There’s lots of potential for growth in tourism.

VietNamNet: How can Vietnam attract Hungarian tourists?

Ambassador Vizi: First of all, tell them about your nature and landscapes. Hungarian people love the sea, and Vietnam has over 3000km of coast, with many beautiful beaches. You should advertise your beaches and resorts such as Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Hoi An and Phu Quoc.

Secondly, tell them about Vietnam’s culture. Vietnam has a long history. Next year, Hanoi will celebrate its 1000th anniversary. Many Hungarian tourists will go to Hanoi to witness and experience your rich and traditional culture.

Third, emphasize shopping. Vietnam is the place where Hungary can buy many goods at cheap prices.

I would say that shopping, sea and culture are the three pillars for Vietnam’s tourism.

VietNamNet: Hungary has welcomed Vietnamese students and workers, many of whom have returned home and now hold important positions. The community of Vietnamese in Hungary is quite big (around 4000 people). What could you say about the role of these people in promoting the relations between Vietnam and Hungary?

Ambassador Vizi: I like this question. These people are really the bridge between our countries. From about 1960 through the 1980’s, nearly 4000 Vietnamese students studied in Hungary. And as you said, many now hold important positions in the government, in business and cultural activities. In Vietnam, there are ministers, deputy ministers, deputy directors of banks, etc. who studied in Hungary. And these people have never forgotten that they studied in Hungary. At present, around 5000 Vietnamese are studying or working in Hungary.

When National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong visited Hungary in July 2008 and PM Nguyen Tan Dung in 2009, they met with the Vietnamese community there. Not only Vietnamese who have studied in Hungary but also Vietnamese residents of Hungary link our countries. Vietnam has a remarkably large number of people who can speak our Hungarian language.

Reader Doan Ket: How do you see Vietnam’s role in ASEAN and as a bridge between ASEAN and the EU?

Ambassador Vizi: Vietnam and the EU are negotiating a partnership and bilateral commercial cooperation agreement. Many rounds of negotiation have been held. I’m optimistic that there will be a solid link between the 27 member countries of the EU and Vietnam.

The EU and ASEAN have been also negotiating a regional free trade agreement for several years. Hopefully, inter-regional cooperation, at least between the EU and some member states of ASEAN, will facilitate trade. Vietnam has been one of the leaders in the negotiation of the ASEAN-EU free trade agreement.

Reader Xuan Linh: I know that Hungary is willing to transfer new technology to Vietnam. How is our cooperation in this field?

Ambassador Vizi: The focus is on environmental protection, clean water and healthcare.

When our President visited Vietnam, we agreed on grants and soft loans worth Eur35 million. This year, the two Prime Ministers reached an additional development assistance agreement worth Eur60 million. The two agreements are the legal framework for Hungary to supply water treatment systems to Vietnam.

Also under the second agreement, Hungary will build a 500 bed hospital in the Mekong Delta.

When Hungary’s Minister of Agriculture visits in early November, the two sides will discuss Vietnam’s work on a new law on food hygiene and safety. Hungary is experienced at this field and we are willing to share our experience with Vietnam.

Finally, Hungary has resources of mineral water and good ability in evaluating mineral water. We are ready to help Vietnam in surveying the mineral water resources in Vietnam.

VietNamNet: Cultural exchange will help deepen bilateral relations. After two years living in Vietnam, what do you think about Vietnamese understanding of Hungary and vice versa. How can we further promote this mutual understanding?

Ambassador Vizi: Educational exchange has been emphasized. The Hungarian government provides five scholarships annually to Vietnamese students. Since 2005, Hungary has granted an additional agricultural scholarships. We are also glad to see more self-financed Vietnamese students going to Hungary. Around 200 Vietnamese students are studying in Hungary now. The Vietnamese government also has given scholarships to about 20 Vietnamese students to study in Hungary.

As for cultural cooperation, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Vietnam-Hungary diplomatic relationships, many cultural exchange activities will be organized in Vietnam and Hungary, including a Hungarian traditional music performance at the Hanoi Opera House in February 2010, a Hungarian cultural week in Hanoi, publication of a collection of poems by famous Hungarian poets in Vietnamese, a book about 60 years of Vietnam-Hungary relationships, and Hungarian cultural and painting exhibitions in Vietnam.

VietNamNet: Hungary made its transition from a centrally-planned to a market-based economy. What is the biggest lesson that Vietnam can learn from Hungary? In your opinion, what is most needed for successful economic transition – visionary and qualified leaders, good policies or the social consensus?

Ambassador Vizi: All of these factors are important. You need strong and transparent institutions. You not only need laws, regulations and orders but also their good implementation. Certainly, the leadership apparatus is also very important. But I emphasize the infrastructure for development. Your government is trying to change the situation.

VietNamNet: Hungary has a long land borderline (2,300km). What are the advantages and difficulties in protecting your territory and in promoting trade with neighbouring countries, especially in the current context of economic integration and increasing interdependence?

Ambassador Vizi: We are lucky to have friendly neighbours. Some of them, like us, are members of the EU. Some are not but they are trying to join the EU. Generally, we maintain good bilateral relations in economic and social aspects. Sometimes conflicts also happen and we tried to solve these conflicts by peaceful methods.

VietNamNet: Some readers want to know about your life in Vietnam. What has impressed you most?

Hanoi is an extremely attractive city. My wife and children and U love this city. We like the lifestyle of Hanoi people, the way they relax, the way they get up at 5am to take morning exercise, the old French-style houses, and the many lakes and parks in the city. Sometimes, when I have free time during the weekend, I ride around the West Lake or some parks to discover new things.

Though traffic is too crowded with thousands of motorbikes and cars, the lifestyle in this city is good for me.

VietNamNet: What do you think about Vietnamese food?

Ambassador Vizi: I like pho bo (Vietnamese noodle with beef) very much. I also like Saigon nem (spring rolls), Vietnamese salads and seafood.

VietNamNet: There are many more questions but time is limited. What do you want to share with VietNamNet’s readers?

Ambassador Vizi: First of all, thank you very much because your questions today show that Vietnamese people know a lot about Hungary and they want to know more. As Hungary’s Ambassador to Vietnam, I wish to promote trade, economic and investment cooperation from Hungary, more ODA, more cultural and education exchange between the two countries.

VietNamNet: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador!

VietNamNet/Vietnam Week

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