Reporter: Dear Mr. Azzeddine Farhane, Ambassador of Morocco to Vietnam, would you please share how the multi-faced cooperation between Vietnam and Morocco has been effectively implemented in 2018?

Mr. Azzeddine Farhane: Morocco and Vietnam have enjoyed historic and excellent bilateral relations ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations on March 28th 1961. The level of cooperation between Morocco and Vietnam, which has reached a high level of political maturity, encompassing a rich and shared historic heritage, reflected in common values that lay the unwavering foundations for a prosperous future of cooperation between the two countries, that bypasses geographical and cultural barriers.

Last year was exceptionally rich and dense in terms of cooperation actions and activities between Morocco and Vietnam, which surely brought Moroccan and Vietnamese people closer, and built exchange bridges in all fields between our two nations.

It was particularly marked by a big and memorable day of November 10th, 2018 for the accomplishment of the inauguration restoration operation by the Embassy of Morocco in Vietnam of “the gate of Morocco”, in “Ba Vi” region, as an outstanding monument, built by the hands of Moroccan soldiers, on Vietnamese land and with Vietnamese materials, inspired by Moorish architectural style of Moroccan imperial cities. It reflects the profound traditional friendship and embodies the historical relations between Morocco and Vietnam.

Photo: hanoimoi.com.vn
In this respect, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Vietnam organized in March 2018, in cooperation with the think tank the institute for Africa and middle East ‘IAMES’ an international seminar pertaining to “Morocco and Vietnam experiences on cultural diversity for national unity and territorial integrity”. This important event came after having successively organized with Vietnamese partners two high level international seminars in 2017 to exchange on topics of major interests for academia, such as the shared historic memory as well as on the decentralization models and the territorial governance systems between Morocco and Vietnam.

 

Regarding the exchange of high level visits between the two countries, it is worth mentioning the very successful visit of the President of the Chamber of Representatives in the Parliament of Morocco to Vietnam, during which the first MOU between an African parliament and the National Assembly of Vietnam was signed, reflecting the strong willingness to foster the moroccan-vietnamese parliamentary and legislative cooperation.

Moreover, two Vice-Presidents of the Chamber of Representatives participated, as guest of Vietnam the host country, to the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum APPF26, held, in January 2018, in Hanoi.

Within this dynamic, Morocco and Vietnam are now actively working together to organize the upcoming official visit at the end of March of H.E. National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân with high ranking level delegation and the scheduled visit, during this year, of H.E Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam, to Morocco, following the historical visit, in 2008, of the former Prime Minister of Morocco H.E Abbas FASSI to Vietnam.

On the Ministerial level, the two Minister of Foreign Affairs of both countries met, in New York, on the margin of the 72th and 73th General Assembly of United Nations, in order to exchange on bilateral and regional issues of common interests and coordinate positions within international organizations and fora.

In the same context, The visit of the H.E.Mme. Mounia BOUCETTA, Moroccan Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs to Vietnam, from 22nd to 24th April 2018, to co-chair along with H.E.Mr. Vu Hong Nam, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, the 4th session of the Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation, was an important milestone and crucial moment to review the current status of the bilateral relations. On this occasion, the two countries reaffirmed the convergence of their views on multilateral issues and the importance of the settlement of disputes through negotiation and peaceful means.

The visit also succeeded in establishing an effective multi-sectorial road map and a concrete action plan, to reinvigorate cooperation between Morocco and Vietnam in myriads of fields.

Mr. Vu Hong Nam, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, and Mr. Azzeddine Farhane, Ambassador of Morocco to Vietnam on July 30th, 2018. (Photo: CPV)
Regarding Morocco-Vietnam vision of south-south cooperation, Morocco's approach for South-South cooperation, under the guidance of His Majesty the King, is at the forefront of the country's strategic and economic priorities. Morocco’s openness on South-East Asian countries, especially Vietnam, continues to frame its cooperation with ASEAN States, especially following the accession of Morocco to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN, in perspective of obtaining the status of ‘Sectoral Dialogue Partner’, in the near future which has been fully supported by Vietnam.

 

At the economic level, it’s worth mentioning that the bilateral trade is still modest and reached USD170 million in 2017. It remains very much below the high economic potential of the two countries taking into account the economic similarities and climate of business as stated by doing business report of 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The high economic growth rate of 7.1% which Vietnam reached last year, is a result of the consistent policy of Vietnam to diversify its economic partnerships and seek efficiency and competitiveness in the global market. Both Morocco and Vietnam can benefit from strong economic ties and cooperation, given their geopolitical and geographical similarities, and their shared objective to promote tourism as a catalyzer for boosting and giving a new impetus to their economic relations.

In this respect, the first roundtable organized by the Embassy on March 29th, 2018  in Hanoi, on the sidelines of the 6th Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM), with the theme “Potential Cooperation between Morocco and Vietnam in the Promotion of Tourism”, was an opportunity for some 30 Vietnamese tourism agencies to present the opportunities Morocco and Vietnam offer in terms of tourist attractions and the hotel industry, in both countries and, more broadly, as gateways to Africa and Southeast Asia.

It was also an opportunity to explore the prospects for cooperation between the two countries, by promoting the exchange of information on the respective tourism products as well as on ways to jointly develop new forms of cooperation in tourism and the hotel industry.

It was highlighted that Morocco and Vietnam share a variety of similarities and tourism potential, in terms of stability, geographical position, and tourism numbers, with Morocco welcoming 11.3 million tourists and Vietnam 13 million tourists in 2017.

Furthermore, when it comes to phosphate and fertilizers sector, the Moroccan compagny OCP, as a global leader in the phosphate industry, has opened offices around the world, in Paris, Sao Paulo, New Delhi, Buenos Aires, and Istanbul, and has established several joint ventures, such as BSFT, a trading company based in Turkey, and OCP Fertilizantes, a local fertilizer distribution company in Brazil. It also launched Performance Phosphate Products, a new range of products that are adapted to customers’ needs, including delivery-related logistics services. The OCP business model could interest the PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals Corporation in exploring ways and means for establishing a joint venture in Southeast Asia.

Reporter: What are your impressions on Vietnam’s people and development achievements, after several years of your term as Moroccan Ambassador to Vietnam?

Mr. Azzeddine Farhane: The development of Vietnam these past two years is impressive, with one of the highest growth rate in the world. It is even more impressive to expect further growth in the future thanks to the ongoing government efforts to encourage foreign investments through various incentives, including regulatory, and through industry focused measures, such as in the tourism sector.

I am therefore convinced of the role of Vietnam as an active actor at the regional level as well as at the global level, taking into account the successful organization of APEC meeting in 2017 and the WEF in September 2018. In addition, the ratification by Vietnam of the CPTPP, and its action for an FTA with the EU predict a very bright future for the overall wellbeing of Vietnam at all levels.

Indeed, the impressive data of Vietnamese economy which grew by 7.1% in 2018, its highest growth rate in ten years, with an export turnover of USD236 billion, and attracting more than 35 billion USD in Foreign Direct Investment in 2018, reflect the image of a dynamic economy and a politically stable country. The openness of Vietnam to the world and its active role in international and regional organizations such as ASEAN, which Vietnam will Chair in 2020, as well as its future election to the UNSC for the period 2020-2021, reveals the growing interest of other countries to strengthen their relations with Vietnam.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco to The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. (Photo: CPV)
Reporter: As an Ambassador, what do you wish to contribute to promoting bilateral relations between the two countries in the future?

Mr. Azzeddine Farhane: I am convinced that Morocco and Vietnam have the potential to further strengthen their bilateral relations by increasing their cooperation in fields such as solar energy, climate change, as well as in decentralized cooperation between the main regions of the two countries.
Morocco has gained an extensive experience in solar energy production, and is engaged in a renewable energy program aiming at an energy mix of 42% renewable energy by 2020, 47% in 2025 and 52% in 2030.

This decision of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI to shift to clean energy is very much a result of a true awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and attenuating the adverse effects of climate change which constitute a real concern of the international community.

Regarding the decentralized cooperation, Morocco has made it a strategic and irreversible choice of territorial administration that is going hand in hand with a policy of decentralized public services, allowing for increased involvement of the populations and local actors in the formulation, choice, and conducting of local strategies. In this respect, Morocco is very much active in networks of local governments such as UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) and has hosted the Africities Summit, from November 20th to November 24th, 2018, in Marrakech, gathering communities and local authorities in African countries, as well as financial institutions, civil society groups and development partners at continental and international level.

Furthermore, in line with the Road map adopted by the Joint Committee in 2018, and within the framework of decentralized cooperation, I am working with the Vietnamese authorities to carry out the project of twining the Vietnamese and Moroccan cities of Da Nag and Tangier, Ho Chi Minh City and Casablanca, and Nha Trang and Agadir.

I am confident that increased and strengthened bilateral relations need more people to people exchange which is possible through tourism cooperation and cultural cooperation, including arts, sports and education. To this end, cultural associations from both Vietnam and Morocco can play an important role in organizing activities that would bring together the people from both countries.

Reporter: On the occasion of the Lunar New Year 2019, what message do you want to send to readers of the Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper?

Mr. Azzeddine Farhane: On the occasion of the Tet, I would like to wish a very happy new year and a lot of success and happiness to all Vietnamese people who has a historical relation with Morocco.

In fact, the gate of Morocco in Bavi represents, more than ever, a symbol of friendship binding Morocco and Vietnam. It was built in the past and means today the past in front of men and women of the present, as St Augustin said “the Past in the present”. Through this gate, the history retains the presence of Moroccan soldiers who deserted, during the liberation war in Vietnam, the French expeditionary army to join the Viet-Minh.

Indeed, at the request of the President Ho Chi Minh, the Moroccan communist party sent a syndicalist Mr. Mhammed ben Aomar lahrech Maarouf to supervise and sensitize Moroccan soldiers for the struggle of independence and freedom of Vietnam. The President Ho Chi Minh gave him the name of “Anh Ma” which means literally ‘the brother horse’ thanks to his leadership and action within Moroccan Army.

Following to “Anh Ma” appeal, the Moroccan soldiers began to build this gate with the same architecture, sculpture and pillars such as Bab Almansour ou Bab Marrak’ch ou Bab assouffara in Rabat or Bab Boujloud in Fes.

Thus, The Morocco Gate genuinely represents the priceless shared values of both Vietnam and Morocco. It bears the message of antiwar and friendship of peoples, throughout the world from the President Ho Chi Minh. It is the only and unique Muslim architectural and cultural work of Moroccan style that still exist in whole the Asian continent, incarnating symbols of love and humanity of the Vietnamese people, who are a peace loving Nation.

Through its historical and cultural signification, the Gate of Morocco represents today a joint cultural heritage to be preserved and sustained for the next generation of two countries that have myriads of geopolitics and economic similarities, and share common goals and ambitions in being actors of international peace and security worldwide.

Morocco and Vietnam are looking forward to a brighter future and promising cooperation. A future that bypasses geographical and cultural barriers to forge fruitful cooperation ties between our two countries in political, economic and cultural fields, with the aim of achieving the aspirations of Moroccan and Vietnamese peoples for welfare and prosperity.

Finally, I invite all the readers of the Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper to visit the Embassy Website: moroccoembassy.vn as an open window to Morocco, which once visited, never forgotten.

Reporter: Thank you so much!

Khac Kien