ASTANA – The embassies of France, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and Romania in collaboration with the Alliance Française in Kazakhstan organised a festival on March 29 at the Astana Mall to celebrate French culture and language.
The festival included wine, cheese and pastry tastings and trivia contests sponsored by French companies.
Belgian Ambassador Michel Peetermans noted the two meanings of the term Francophonie: one of the linguistic and cultural community of all those who speak French and the other of the l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie which brings together 57 member countries and 20 countries as observers. Peetermans also noted the 2nd French Language World Forum will take place in July 2015 in Liege, Belgium.
Deputy Head of Mission of the Swiss Embassy Suzanne Rosenkranz explained the importance of the French language in Switzerland, which is one of that country’s four official languages. It is spoken by 25 percent of the Swiss population, mainly in the southwest, including in and around Geneva.
French Embassy Cultural Advisor Johann Uhres used the March 29 event to announce the start of the third, nationwide Francophone Festival.
French festivals are held around the country in early spring, including Francophone film festivals in Astana, Almaty, Karagandy, Kostanai, Shymkent and Ust-Kamenogorsk, which are home to Alliance Française offices. Celebrations are also held for French students in Kazakhstan. French speaking communities and schools also note the season.
This year’s celebrations also included the sixth National Francophone Song Contest held by the six Alliance Française offices in the country. Anyone aged 18-30 could participate.