Vietnam Relations with Europe
Relations with Russia
Russian President Putin, who was the first Russian head of state to visit Vietnam at the end of February / beginning of March 2001, was warmly welcomed by the party and state leadership in Hanoi, but the population hardly noticed his presence. The Vietnamese-Soviet relations, which until the 1980’s was very tight, have grown even more intense in recent years. In October 2010, Vietnam and Russia signed a contract for the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Vietnam, for which the Russian side will provide know-how and loans.
In July 2012, Russian President Putin and his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang signed an agreement on building a strategic partnership. In doing so, Vietnam has upgraded relations with Russia, its main arms exporter. The military-technological cooperation was also the subject of discussions during the visit of Russian Defense Minister in Vietnam in March 2013. Thus, Russia delivered by 2015 twelve more SU30 fighter jets to Vietnam – purchasers of this multi-combat aircraft, however, is also China. In addition, in November 2012 Vietnam received the first Russian -made submarine out of a total of six boats.
According to homosociety, military cooperation was raised to a formal level with the signing of an MoU during a visit by the Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh to Moscow in August 2013. The treaty provides for the exchange of military delegations, an annual dialogue on defense policy, the training of Vietnamese officers and the further modernization of the weapons arsenal of the Vietnamese People’s Army by Russia. Vietnam is obviously interested in expanding cooperation with Russia in order to create a further counterweight to China.
In the territorial conflict in the South China Sea, which was fueled in 2014 by the construction of Chinese oil platforms, Beijing is not supported by Russia. In addition to the traditionally close ties between Moscow and Hanoi since the Vietnam War, this is primarily due to the Russian arms deliveries to Vietnam.
Despite the rapprochement between Hanoi and Washington, Russia remains Vietnam’s main arms supplier. Russia and Vietnam agreed on an arms deal worth US $ 1 billion during a visit by KP leader Nguyen Phu Trong to Moscow in September 2018.
During a visit by the Vietnamese Defense Minister to Moscow in February 2020, it was decided to further intensify cooperation.
Relations with the EU and Germany
The EU and Vietnam have intensive relations – e.g. the EU is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner. The EU is represented by a delegation in Vietnam. In March 2010, both sides began negotiations on the conclusion of a far- reaching trade agreement, which was finally signed in June 2019. In June 2020, the Vietnamese National Assembly approved the agreement. With the conclusion of another agreement in August 2019, cooperation in the field of defense is also to be expanded.
The German-Vietnamese relations are very close. Germany is Vietnam’s largest trading partner within the European Union. In addition, there are close personal contacts between the two countries, as more than 70,000 Vietnamese were employed as contract workers in the former GDR or had learned and studied there since the 1950’s.
The close relationships are also reflected in a lively cultural exchange, to which the Goethe-Institut in Vietnam makes an important contribution. A particular example of the German-Vietnamese cooperation is the restoration of Vietnamese cultural monuments.
During the state visit of Chancellor Merkel to Hanoi in October 2011, both sides agreed on establishing a strategic partnership and expanding trade relations. The economic relations between the two countries are good, but still expandable.
During a visit to Vietnam in autumn 2016, the then German Foreign Minister Steinmeier was impressed by the dynamic development of the country, but also called on the leadership to implement further political reforms.
There are also close relationships in the education sector – for example, the DAAD, which has had a branch in Vietnam since 2003, is active in various areas of personal and project funding.
Numerous celebrations and activities also took place on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Vietnam. The close German-Vietnamese relations naturally also have their origins in the longstanding cooperation between the former GDR and Vietnam.
According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, the long-sought ex-functionary Trinh Xuan Thanh presented himself to the authorities in Hanoi at the end of July 2017. Trinh Xuan Thanh, who was accused of massive mismanagement in his role as CEO of the PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corporation, had been on the run since July 2016. At the beginning of August 2017, however, it became clear that Trinh Xuan Thanh had been kidnapped from Berlin to Hanoi with the participation of Vietnamese authorities. The Foreign Office therefore appointed the Vietnamese ambassador and declared the representative of the Vietnamese intelligence services at the Vietnamese embassy to be persona non grata. The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to limit the damage and emphasized the importance of good relations with Germany. At the same time, Trinh Xuan Thanh appeared on Vietnamese state television and asserted that he had returned to his homeland of his own free will.
A few days later, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office started the investigation into the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh and investigated, among other things, the involvement of the vice-chief of the Vietnamese secret service who was in Berlin at the time of the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh.
On 22 September 2017, the federal government had a response to the failure to be at this stage appropriate response the Vietnamese side another diplomat of the Vietnamese Embassy in Berlin and continued the strategic partnership with the country temporarily.
After the Vietnamese side had not met any of the German government’s demands by December 2017, visa-free entry for all holders of Vietnamese diplomatic passports was suspended for the time being.
In January 2018, Trinh Xuan Thanh’s German lawyer, who wanted to observe the trial of her client in Hanoi, was refused entry by the Vietnamese authorities.
After nearly two weeks of trial, Trinh Xuan Thanh was sentenced to life imprisonment for mismanagement and embezzlement. In another trial, Trinh Xuan Thanh was also given a life sentence.
In April 2018, the trial of the Vietnamese NH Long, who lives in the Czech Republic and who is said to have played a role in the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh, began in Berlin. Details of the kidnapping process became public during the trial. In July 2018, the defendant was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months in prison.