ASTANA – Twenty-eight schools in Astana marked Europe Day on May 13 with ambassadors and senior diplomats from 15 European Union member states offering “European Union hour” lessons to more than 1,000 students, an EU mission press release announced.
Sessions were held in English, French and German in the 28 secondary schools across the Kazakh capital. Discussions focused on the history of the EU, its achievements, policies, cultures, values and other topics, and students were encouraged to participate and ask questions.
Ambassador of the EU to Kazakhstan Aurelia Bouchez, Ambassador of Greece Efthymios Pantzopoulos, Ambassador of Spain Manuel Larrotcha Parada, Ambassador of France Francis Etienne, Ambassador of Italy Stefano Ravagnan, Ambassador of Latvia Juris Maklakovs, Ambassador of Hungary Imre Laszloczki, Ambassador of Slovakia Peter Juza, Ambassador of Finland Ilkka Raisanen and senior diplomats from the embassies of the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, the United Kingdom and the EU Delegation took part. The sessions ended with quizzes on the students’ knowledge of the EU and winners were given prizes from EU member states, the mission reported.
Bouchez visited the Zerde school for gifted children, where she spoke to 35 pupils, mostly in ninth and tenth grade, who were fluent in English, the EU delegation press service reported. Bouchez noted that the Schuman Declaration is “continuing to inspire the younger generations, who will pursue the construction of Europe and the development of its partnerships.” She also commented on the enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU.
Director of the school Alia Seksenova, who attended the lecture, said afterwards: “This event will be one of the milestones in the history of the school. It provided unique opportunity for our children to talk to Ambassador Bouchez about things they’ve learnt from books. Now they received an idea how diplomacy works in reality and about the successful relations of Kazakhstan and the EU. … As President Nazarbayev stressed, education should get closer to professionals. So children can learn not only theories, but to see how their accumulated knowledge can be used for the future of our country,” the EU delegation reported. Students Diyaz Azhigulov, Tomiris Sagidolla and Dayana Orynbassar knew the most about EU and Kazakhstan relations and received prizes during the event.
Students and teachers took part in the quiz at the school Ambassador of Latvia Juris Maklakovs visited. Maklakovs, whose country holds the European Council presidency, said he was happy to have the opportunity to tell more about the EU, especially as the students represent the future of their country, and the future of the EU and Kazakhstan friendship will depend on them.
The event was supported by the Astana City Akimat. Europe Day marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, when at a speech in Paris in 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman described a concept for a new form of political cooperation in Europe. His goal was to prevent war from breaking out again in Europe, and he envisioned a European institution that jointly pool and manage coal and steel production in the region. Within a year, a treaty creating such a body was signed. His speech is considered the starting point for today’s EU, the press release said.
The EU is Kazakhstan’s largest trade and investment partner, accounting for nearly half of its foreign trade and providing more than half of its foreign direct investment. In January of this year, Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian nation to initial an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) with the EU.