The signing of the Paris Agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam on January 27, 1973, created a new turning point in the Vietnamese nation’s resistance war against the US imperialists to liberate the south and unify the country.
|Journalist Wilfred Burchett and his wife pose for a photo with President Ho Chi Minh (second, right) and Prime Minister Pham Van Dong (L) in Hanoi in May 1966.__Photo: thethaovanhoa.vn|
The agreement marked a brilliant milestone in the history of Vietnamese revolutionary diplomacy in the Ho Chi Minh era. Fifty years have passed since the accord was signed, yet the lessons of international solidarity and independence are still valid today. This tremendous victory was not only for the Vietnamese people but also for peace lovers around the globe.
The arduous and protracted negotiations over the treaty, dubbed a brain battle in the history of world diplomacy at that time, left deep imprints in the mind of those directly involved in the process and contributed to the successful conclusion of the agreement.
As for international peace-loving friends who always stood side-by-side with the Vietnamese people and wholeheartedly supported the country’s struggle for national liberation and independence, the Paris Agreement is eloquent proof of the truth as stated in a proclamation of victory of the Vietnamese nation: “A just cause always prevails over tyranny; compassion is the virtue to embrace in place of violence.”
|George Burchett - the son of journalist Wilfred Burchett, takes a photo next to his father's portrait at the Ho Chi Minh Museum__Photo: thethaovanhoa.vn|
In that sense, the Paris Agreement serves as an inspiration for progressive, peace, and justice lovers around the world in their struggle for national independence, freedom, equality, and fraternity, and reinforces the belief of oppressed nations.
Pham Ngac, former Director of the Department of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not hide his emotion when reminiscing about his assignment as an English-language interpreter and rapporteurs of both closed-door and public meetings during the five years of negotiations from mid-May 1968 to the end of January 1973 when the treaty was signed.
Recalling the tough negotiations, Ngac, one of the youngest members of the Vietnamese delegation, said tensions had risen right from the selection of the venue for negotiations. The Vietnamese side wanted to take Paris, where the movement of international friends in support of its anti-American resistance war was significant and where a large number of patriotic compatriots lived, while the American side insisted on a location in Southeast Asia.
The 9-chapter, 23-article agreement was finally signed on January 27, 1973, after nearly five years of negotiations, with 201 public meetings, 45 high-level private meetings, 24 secret meetings, 500 press conferences, and 1,000 interviews, besides hundreds of demonstrations by international friends from all over the world against the war and in support of the Vietnamese people’s struggle for national independence.
In an interview to the Vietnam News Agency, George Burchett, son of President Ho Chi Minh’s close friend, Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett (1911-1983), said Vietnam’s struggle for national independence, freedom and reunification was also the Burchetts'.
Wilfred Burchett is well-known in Vietnam because he was a great friend of the Vietnamese people during the two resistance wars against foreign invaders. He was present at all hotspots, from Dien Bien Phu to Thai Nguyen safety zone, from Hanoi to the Cu Chi tunnels and other bases of the National Front for the Liberation of the South of Vietnam, to report on the wars and the just struggle by the Vietnamese people.
|US journalist Horowitz Amiad__Photo: Horowitz Amiad|
George Burchett, a painter who is also a familiar name for many Vietnamese people, said his parents moved to Hanoi after the Geneva Agreement was signed in 1954. He was born in May 1955 in the capital, the day the last French soldiers boarded a ship to leave Hai Phong for the south.
“So, even my birthday connects me to Vietnamese history,” he said.
George lived in Vietnam until he was two years old, then moved with his family to the Soviet Union, Cambodia, France, and Bulgaria, before returning to Australia to settle down at the age of 30. However, his father’s stories, reportages, photos, and videos about Vietnam made it hard for George’s memories to fade away.
“I was born into it and I grew up with it, through my father’s stories, writings, photographs, films, and so on,” he said.
George said that his father met President Ho Chi Minh for the first time in his jungle headquarters in Thai Nguyen in March 1954, right before the start of the Dien Bien Phu campaign. Wilfred entered Hanoi with advance units of the Liberation Army in October the same year and thus witnessed the French tricolor coming down and Vietnam’s red flag with a golden star going up everywhere in the capital. The reporter left Vietnam in 1956, only to later return to the country time and time again to write about the Vietnamese people’s struggle for independence, and became the first Western journalist to visit the liberated zone of South Vietnam in 1963-1964.
In his career as a journalist, Wilfred had nearly 30 years of deep attachment to Vietnam. He wrote eight books and hundreds of articles and took thousands of photos. His articles were printed in global newspapers, reflecting the struggle for independence, freedom, and national reunification of the Vietnamese people.
George said that 50 years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, Vietnam is now “at peace, united, truly independent, and rapidly developing.”
“Vietnam is a socialist country with high literacy, good healthcare, reasonable social equality, and no divisions along religious, ethnic, political, or other lines.”
He also hailed Vietnam’s rapid development and rich culture, both traditional and contemporary.
As an artist living in Hanoi, he feels honored and proud to actively participate in Vietnam’s vibrant contemporary culture by preserving the historical memory and developing new ideas.
“Vietnam is a stable society that has every reason to look confidently to the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking to the Vietnam News Agency, American journalist Amiad Horowitz, a member of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA), expressed his appreciation of the role the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) played in negotiating the Paris Agreement, calling it a key factor ensuring the success for Vietnam.
“Under the leadership of the CPV, Vietnam managed to defeat the US military and achieve all of its goals, leading to the eventual reunification of Vietnam,” he said. “It was because of the CPV’s leadership that the people of Vietnam were able to stand strong for all those years, to fight against the mightiest army in the world.”
The journalist attributed the successful leadership of the CPV to the Party’s deep connection with the people in all fields, from education and training to humanitarian work.
“This strength is also what allowed the CPV to negotiate a successful settlement at the Paris Peace Conference,” he said.
Born after 1975, yet Amiad is aware of the crimes committed by the US military against the Vietnamese people during the war.
“From its support of the cruel puppet government, the bombing of civilians, and the use of chemical weapons, the US war in Vietnam is one of the great crimes of the 20th century,” he said.
However, under the wise leadership of the Party, the Vietnamese people defeated the US army and reunified the country, he added.
Referring to the significance of the Paris Agreement, Amiad said that half a century later, the document still marks a great victory of Vietnam’s political, military, and diplomatic struggle, as well as the victory of the world people’s movement in support of the Vietnamese people.
The heroic and staunch struggle by the Vietnamese people, with the unprecedented strong and widespread support of the world, eventually forced the US government to the negotiating table and sign the Paris Agreement.
Victory in the Paris Agreement in particular and that in the resistance war against the US in general by the Vietnamese people is the one of conscience and of belief on justice, and marks a great victory for the liberation movement of peace-loving people around the world.-(VNA/VLLF)