Zovko on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement: We should not only work on the economic ties, but also on respect of the right of belief as a fundamental aspect of our future relations
Strasbourg 11 December 2020,
This week, the European Parliament will vote on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. In a debate prior to the vote, Zeljana Zovko took the floor and expressed her view on the European relations with the South-East Asian country.
Zovko stated that Vietnam is a fast-growing economy and by facilitating European-Vietnamese trade, this agreement offers ample opportunities for companies on both sides. This year, Vietnam holds the chairmanship of ASEAN and the EU aspires to foster closer trade relations with the region. “We encourage cultural and economic cooperation and we create a stepping stone to the European Union’s longer-term goal of a region-to-region EU-Southeast Asia trade relations.”
Next to closer trade cooperation, Zovko also called upon the EU to keep in mind the situation of human rights in our partner country. “We see that the government restricts the freedom of religion through legislation and surveillance. Local authorities often seize properties and places of worship, also of the Catholic church.” Zovko also mentioned that as of December 2018, about 250 prisoners are estimated to be detained because they advocated the freedom of religion.
Zovko concluded her intervention with the statement that next to our strengthened trade with Vietnam, the European Union should also push for an improved interreligious dialogue. “We should not only work on strengthening the economic ties, but also on respect of the right of belief as a fundamental aspect of our future relations”, she said.