Heidi Hautala and Mr Robert Goebbels Vice Chair of the ASEAN Delegation held a videoconference meeting with and the delegation from the government of Vietnam on Tuesday, 19 October. [:]
The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Phan Binh Minh. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed discussion on human rights but maintained that not all criticism is warranted. The delegation furthermore stressed that the country agreed with the UN’s UN Universal Periodic Review process specifying that in total 18 UPR suggestions will be followed up by the Vietnamese authorities. Deputy Minister Phan Binh Minh also invited the MEPs to visit the country and speak with the authorities before drafting any human rights resolutions on Vietnam.
Ms Hautala noted that while the EU might criticise some countries human rights record, it strives to improve its own. Progress has been achieved in many areas but several more need attention, such as the rights and situation of the Roma population.
European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Vietnam on 26 November 2009 expressing great concern over the rights of religious minorities. Ms Hautala in this line underlined the importance of protecting the rights of religious minorities and reiterated concern over the situation of the Bat Nha Monastery.
Mr Hautala and Mr Goebbels furthermore stressed that it is vitally important for any country that rights of human rights defenders, bloggers and internet users are ensured and that there shall be no detention of human rights activists and lawyers. Ms Hautala expressed particular concern over the cases of lawyer Le Cong Dinh, activists Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Le Thang Long and Nguyen Tien Trung as well as activist writer Phma Thanh Nghien and Tran Kahin Thanh Thuy.
Ms Hautala and Mr Goebbels took note of the initial signing of new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Vietnam and the EU, on 4 October and Mr Goebels appreciated in particular the decision of the Vietnamese PM to continue with the HR dialogue between Vietnam and the EU.
However, after the coming into the force of the Treaty of Lisbon the European Parliament has more powers. Indeed, the initially signed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement can come into force only if the Parliament agrees to it. Ms Hauatala noted that for the Parliament to give its consent, more positive signals on human rights might be needed from the authorities.
It was agreed to continue the dialogue and good cooperation as the preparations with regards the Agreement advance.