Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Friends everywhere

I remember listening to a BBC radio programme a few months ago in which a western diplomat from a smallish country described the welcome he received from the Vietnames government at Hanoi airport.  I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something like this:

"They made us feel as if we were the most important people in the world and as if their relationship with my country was absolutely vital to them."

A 2008 edition of the Economist magazine had this to say about Vietnam's foreign policy:

Vietnam's overriding interest in its foreign relations has been to accelerate its economic development. The main point of having “friends everywhere” is to seek their investment and their technical help. Another goal is seeking and maintaining trade access for Vietnamese farm produce and manufactures.

It seems to me as if Moldova should take a similar approach; a small country cannot afford to antagonise its neighbours but instead needs to make sure that it is on as good terms as possible without sacrificing vital national interests.  It also needs to diversify its foreign relationships in such a way as to maximise inward investment, technology transfer and export opportunities without being reliant on a single partnership.  I might be imagining it, but this seems to be what Vlad Filat's government is doing.

We've seen the initialling of the small traffic agreement with Romania and increased cooperation on the Ukrainian border.  We are also seeing credit and grant agreements negotiated with a wide range of foreign powers and organisations; eastern (Russia, China), western (USA, EU, Poland) and international (IMF, WB).

Through their 'friends everywhere' policy, the Vietnamese have build a rapidly modernising economy out of a country completely reliant on peasant agriculture.  Let's hope Moldova can do the same.

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