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IAMES Director General, Dr. Bui Nhat Quang

During the visit of IAMES delegation in Ankara on early October 2011, the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) of the Republic of Turkey has conducted an interview with Dr.Bui Nhat Quang, IAMES Director General. The following is the conversation bewtween ORSAM's researcher Oytun Orhan and Dr. Bui Nhat Quang.

ORSAM: Can you introduce yourself?

Dr. Bui Nhat QUANG: I am Bui Nhat Quang, Director General of Vietnam’s Institute for Africa and Middle East Studies (IAMES) – a research institution established in 2004 by a Degree of the Vietnamese Government. Our task is to carry out research on various issues of the Middle East and Africa and provide consulting to Vietnamese Government in the policy-making process concerning African and Middle Easter countries. We are now carrying out a research project on recent socio-political unrests in the Middle East and North Africa that focuses on what is happening in the MENA region and what are the lessons and experiences that we should learn and should not learn from there. Apart from this, we are also assigned the task of implementing research on several important countries in Africa and Middle East and examine possibility of Vietnam to cooperate with these countries. We identify Turkey as one of Vietnam’s most important partners and our research on Turkey will examine every possibility of promoting relations with Turkey in the period from now until 2020.

What makes Turkey important for Vietnam?

Turkey is important for Vietnam. We get to understand that the Middle East is always a “hot” and unstable region but Turkey is so a special country that can reveal itself as a good example of stability. Turkey has a secular democracy, a typical growth model and succeeds in economic development in recent years. The successful lesson of Turkey can also be a very useful lesson for many other countries to follow. Therefore, our task is to find how Turkey can achieve these good results of political stability and high, sustainable economic growth.

What are the reasons of increasing attention of Vietnam on MENA countries? What are the interests of Vietnam in the MENA region?

We have many interests in MENA region. Since the introduction of our renovation policy in 1986, Vietnam became an open country to the outside world. The guideline of our foreign policy is to establish good relations with all countries in the world. We re-established relations with China in 1991, normalized relations with the US in 1995 and signed many cooperation agreements with European countries during the 1990s. However, Vietnam’s presence in Africa and the Middle East is still modest due to long geographical distance. Only until recently do we recognize that the MENA is a strategic region that has great potential for mutual-benefit cooperation. Vietnam has friendly and politically good relations with all of MENA countries but economic cooperation is still limited. To get on well with the development process, we need more friends and economic partners. We are looking at Turkey as an important country in the region that is willing and ready to set up comprehensive cooperation with Vietnam.

There are some similarities between Vietnam’s approach and China’s approaches especially in foreign policies, because there is a so called Chinese model which aims economic liberalization. Within this policy, Chinese foreign policy mainly based on establishing economic cooperation with the Middle Eastern and African countries and other regions also from where they can supply their energy needs. What do you think on this?

That is a difficult question. It is clear that Vietnam and China have some similarities in the policy approach and Vietnam finds Chinese experiences very helpful. Vietnam began the Renovation Policy in 1986 while China initiated its Open Door Policy since late 1970s. The two countries have similar political system, many common political viewpoints as well as cultural values. That is why to a certain extent, Vietnam and China can be similar in their policy. However, Vietnam’s approach is also very different in the sense that we are not such a large country as China and we are not ambitious, we can not impose our values to other. Vietnam just stands at equal footing with our partners and wants to be friend with all other countries. In this way, we have similarities with Turkey’s “zero problem” policy. We don’t want to have problems.

In so, the priority of Vietnam is stability in the MENA region and in its borders also.

Yes, in our policy we pay more attention to stability and economic cooperation.

So you need stability.

Vietnam enjoys good stability and this helps us to overcome economic difficulties.

How do you evaluate Turkish-Vietnamese relations both in economic and political fields?

Turkey is following a kind of “strategic depth” policy that is based on long standing history and typical values. In this regard, we can share with each other as Vietnam also has a “strategic depth” in its thousand years of history and follows a policy that is similar to Turkey’s. Turkey is becoming more interested in Vietnam and Vietnam is ready to cooperate with Turkey not only in promoting bilateral relations but also in resolving global and regional issues. We all have interests in keeping stability and security. The problems in the region are what Vietnam can share with Turkey. Turkey wants to play a more important role in the MENA region and Vietnam can cooperate with Turkey in this field.

Thank you very much for your time.
Source: Turkey's Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM)
Posted by IAMES