New milestones in Vietnam-Italy, Vietnam-Vatican relationship

Thu Hoa
Chia sẻ
(VOVWORLD) - Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and his wife are on a state visit to Italy and a visit to the Vatican at the invitation of Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Pope Francis. With Vietnam and Italy celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations and 10 years of strategic partnership, President Thuong's visit will usher in a more dynamic and effective period of development. The visit will also play an important role in promoting Vietnam-Vatican relations.
New milestones in Vietnam-Italy, Vietnam-Vatican relationship - ảnh 1Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and his wife arrive in Rome to begin a state visit to Italy and a visit to the Vatican July 25-27, 2023. (photo: VNA)

Promoting bilateral relations between Vietnam and Italy is an important part of Vietnam’s external relations with the European Union (EU) and between ASEAN and the EU.

Vietnam-Italy relations

Since Vietnam and Italy established diplomatic relations on March 23, 1973, political ties between the two countries have been consolidated and developed rapidly. Since establishing a strategic partnership in January, 2013, the two countries have actively promoted practical and effective cooperation in politics, diplomacy, economy, science, education, defense, security, environmental protection, and connectivity.

The two countries have maintained regular high-level contacts and bilateral cooperation mechanisms. High-level delegations to Italy were led by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in January 2013, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung in March 2014, and President Tran Dai Quang in November, 2016. In December last year, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh met with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on the sidelines of the ASEAN-EU Summit in Belgium.

High-ranking Italian leaders who have visited Vietnam include Defense Minister Giampaolo di Paola (January, 2013), Vice Speaker of the House of Representatives Marina Sereni (January, 2014), Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (June, 2014), President Sergio Mattarella (November, 2015), Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi (May, 2019), and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (June 2019). During these high-level meetings, Italy always affirmed its determination to promote multifaceted cooperation with Vietnam, considering Vietnam a priority country in Southeast Asia.

Last year two-way trade turnover totaled 6.2 billion USD, up 11% from 2021. It’s expected to reach 7-8 billion USD per year. Italy is Vietnam's third largest trading partner in the EU and its 36th largest foreign direct investor. Italy has pledged ODA of 117 million euros to Vietnam.

Many large Italian corporations are investing in manufacturing industry in Vietnam. Last year Vietnam welcomed 15,000 Italian tourists, and Italy is one of the top destinations for Vietnamese tourists visiting Europe.

Progress in Vietnam-Vatican relationship

The Vietnam-Vatican relationship has seen positive developments in recent years. Vietnamese delegations visiting the Vatican have been led by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (January, 2013), President Nguyen Minh Triet (December, 2009), President Tran Dai Quang (November, 2016), Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (January, 2007 and October, 2014), and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung (March, 2014).

Vatican delegations have visited Vietnam led, by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (January, 2015) and Chairman of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Reinhard Marx (January, 2016).

During his visit to Italy in January, 2007, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. It was the first high-level contact between the two sides. In June, 2009, at a meeting with Vietnamese bishops for the Ad Limina ceremony (the journey to the heavenly home of Catholics) in Rome, the Pope called on parishioners to be good citizens, and reminded the Catholic Church of Vietnam to follow the spirit of the gospel mentioned in the Common Letter in 1980.

In November, 2008, the two sides agreed to set up the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group, with alternate annual meetings in Vietnam and the Vatican. The 10th meeting was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang and Monsignor Miroslaw Wachowski, Under-Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States in the Vatican in March. A Non-Resident Pontifical Representative and Special Envoy of the Holy See has been working in Vietnam.

President Vo Van Thuong's state visit to Italy demonstrates the determination of the two countries' senior leaders to deepen the Vietnam-Italy strategic partnership. The visit to the Vatican reflects the consistent policy of the Vietnamese Party and State to respect freedom of belief and religion, promote bilateral relations, and urge the Holy See to continue to cooperate and direct the Vietnam Catholic Church to support the Vietnamese State and people in the cause of national construction and development.