Vietnam: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Paris Agreements

published on 20.01.2023

Your Excellency Mr. DINH Toan Thang, Ambassador of Vietnam to France,
Your Excellency Ms. LE Thi Hong Van, Ambassador of Vietnam to UNESCO,
Anne LE HÉNANNF, Member of Parliament, President of the France-Vietnam Friendship Group of the National Assembly, Mrs.
Ladies and gentlemen elected officials,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends from Vietnam,

I want to express, as a communist parliamentarian, the happiness and pride we have in celebrating together the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement.

Let me first thank the Embassy for organizing this rich program of commemorations and cultural events: today’s round tables, the initiatives held on January 14 in Verrières-le-Buisson, those planned for tomorrow in Choisy-le. -Roi.

The 50th anniversary of the Paris Agreements is of particular importance to France, to French Communists and to all friends of Vietnam. This is an opportunity for us to look back on the history of the long friendship that binds our two peoples and as far as we are concerned our two parties.

This friendship is more than a century old. In fact, it begins with the creation of the French Communist Party, with the active participation of the man who will become, a few decades later, the President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

A delegate to the Congress of Tours, Ho Chi Minh is one of the founding members of our party. It is a great pride for us. From the 1920s, he also actively contributed to the involvement of the new French Communist Party in solidarity with anti-colonial struggles.

Our historical friendship, based on the common rejection of wars and domination between nations, has passed through the ordeal of fire more than once.

In 1945 France, barely freed from the Nazi invaders, did not understand the desire for independence that the peoples of Indochina expressed for themselves. She embarks, against the grain of the new history that is beginning to be written in the world, on a savage military offensive in “French Indochina” to counter the advance of the national liberation movement, the Việt Minh.

Tens of thousands of young French men were then sent to fight the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people for the benefit of the interests of French imperialism. Among them, thousands of young people volunteered in the Resistance, to liberate France and because they shared its values. So they don’t understand the role we want them to play in Indochina.

This is the case of Henri MARTIN, an 18-year-old young communist sailor. Sent to Vietnam in 1945, he considered going to fight against the Japanese invaders. Faced with the horrors of the Haiphong bombing, he returned to Toulon where he distributed anti-war leaflets. This caused him to be arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. Henri MARTIN quickly became the symbol of the struggles in support of the peoples of Indochina. Like him, hundreds of communist militants in France will be jailed for denouncing the “dirty war in Indochina.” Among them was, allow me this personal cut, the young communist Paul LAURENT, who was my father.

Let’s not forget that this conflict caused, among other things, a terrible famine in 1945 which killed more than a million people in Vietnam. Oppressed by both the Japanese occupiers and the Petainist French colonial administration, the Vietnamese peasants saw their rice reserves raided in 1943. In honor of the memory of the victims, France would also be honored to look at this episode in the history of in her face.

This unjust colonial war will lead to a terrible failure for France, with the final withdrawal of French troops in 1954 after the battle of Diên Biên Phu. But for Vietnam, twenty years of brutal confrontations were yet to come, with what the Vietnamese people would call the “Ten Thousand Day War.”

Two decades of terrible war and resistance against American aggression. 7 million tons of bombs dropped on Vietnamese territory; three times more than during World War II. Millions of victims, civilians and soldiers…

Human, environmental and health impacts still today, with the devastating effects of Agent Orange.

We applaud the exemplary struggle of the Vietnamese people to obtain justice and reparations. We support the struggle of Mrs. Tran To Nga, who in 2014 sued the agrochemical multinationals that supplied Agent Orange to the US military. We regret the decision of the High Court of Evri, declaring the request dated May 10, 2021 as inadmissible. With her support committee, Mrs. Tran To Nga is appealing this decision. We will continue to mobilize together, to finally get justice for all victims of Agent Orange! This would be oh so helpful for all the victims of wars, unfortunately too many today on all continents.

Twenty years of this terrible war, we commemorate today its end, with the Paris Peace Accords, signed on January 27, 1973. These agreements will not be synonymous with an immediate end to the fighting in Vietnam. But by approving the final withdrawal of American troops, they finally paved the way for the full and complete occupation of the independence and sovereignty of the Vietnamese people.

These Agreements were the fruit, let’s not forget, of slow and difficult negotiation work, carried out in secret since 1968, at the height of the war. The treasures of diplomacy were settled during the five years of intense negotiations that followed between US and Vietnamese representatives who met in Paris.

As soon as the Vietnamese delegation arrived, the French communists worked tirelessly to receive it as best as possible in our country. The delegation is located a few kilometers from the capital, in Choisy-le-Roi, in a small pavilion where until then the school for the leaders of the PCF was located.

Little by little, daily life is organized. With the support of the communist municipality led by Fernand DUPUY, the communist section of the city and many communists from Val-de-Marne, everything is in place, from security to transport, including accommodation and restoration.

Upon arriving in France, the Vietnamese delegation did not imagine that it would stay so long! Because Vietnam’s representatives then participate in what will go down as the longest peace negotiations in the history of world diplomacy: a titanic task to finally achieve the peace and integrity of Vietnam.

Throughout these five years, strong human ties were established between the French and Vietnamese Communists. They continue to this day.

I have a thought for my friend Jean-Charles NEGRE, who died during the Covid-19 pandemic, whom you honored a few months ago for this steadfast friendship.

I also take the opportunity to greet my friend Hélène LUC, honorary senator and honorary councilor of the department of Choisy-le-Roi. Helene could not join us this evening precisely because she is in Vietnam until tomorrow, after a week on delegation in the framework of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary.

Her trip follows that of Eliane ASSASSI, president of the group of communist senators, who went to Vietnam last December as part of an official delegation headed by the president of the French Senate.

This Franco-Vietnamese friendship is precious, as the challenges to be faced are so many. We live in 2023 in a volatile world, a world in many ways more dangerous.
Let us be faithful in our own way to the wise motto of President Hồ Chí Minh “Dealing with unforeseen situations through sustainable principles“, remaining fully committed to the fundamental principles of international law.

In the face of the multiplication of crises, the defense of peace must remain our common compass. The security concerns of all members of the international community must be heard and respected. Respect for borders, the integrity of states and the non-use of force to resolve disputes between nations must be reaffirmed. The logic of military escalation, which works today in many regions of the world, must be replaced as soon as possible in favor of the logic of development, cooperation, unification in the face of great divisions that endanger our common humanity.

In this sense, the French Communists, like the French parliamentarians, reaffirm their strong attachment to respect for Vietnam’s sovereignty, its land and sea territorial integrity, especially in the East Sea, where Vietnam legitimately intends to continue to exercise sovereign its economic activities. .

We also affirm that France must adapt to the new global situation and listen better to the aspirations of many peoples for greater reciprocity in international relations. It is in the interest of our country to adapt its policy in this direction, strengthen partnerships and define mutually beneficial cooperation.

This is why Vietnam is more than ever an essential partner of France in facing new global challenges, as well as issues of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific area, in order to build together the global human security that our planet is needed. This is also the legacy of the Paris Agreements that we are celebrating today.

Long live peace among peoples,
Long live Franco-Vietnamese friendship!

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