Didier Canesse assumed his post as ambassador to Kazakhstan on October 14, 2020. In conversation with weproject.media, he described how cooperation between the two countries is developing and shared his impressions of the region.
Important choice, important country
During my diplomatic career, I worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was an advisor at the Embassy in London and also worked at the French Mission to the OSCE. I spent several years as deputy representative of France to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union in Brussels. He served as ambassador to Belarus from 2016 to 2020.
The appointment to Kazakhstan did not come as a surprise to me. In our country, the system is as follows: every year, a list of vacancies for the ambassador position is published. You can apply by choosing three countries where you would like to go.
I chose Kazakhstan for a few reasons. I know the post-Soviet countries well. My first business trip was to Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, I have been interested in the region.
My knowledge of the Russian language was a big plus. I started learning it back in school. At that time, I didn't know that I would need it for my career.
I found out in July 2020 that my appointment was being processed. In October, I took up my duties.
Kazakhstan is an important country in Central Asia where France has strong interests.
People, places and cuisine
My favorite place in Nur-Sultan is the part of the embankment between the two pedestrian bridges. It can be lively - you can feel the human warmth.
I love Almaty. It's a city where I relax. I like the local atmosphere. There's always something interesting going on here.
The people of Kazakhstan are friendly and inquisitive people. They ask questions about my country and at the same time are eager to talk about their culture and traditions.
Like the French, the Kazakhs love good food. In this regard, we are similar. One of the first Kazakh words I learned was "toi". I love beshparmak. What's amazing is that it is always different, even though the recipe is the same on paper. Each family has its own secrets and ways of preparation.
Thirty years of friendship
Diplomatic relations between our countries are good. This year, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary. In 2008, France and Kazakhstan signed a strategic partnership. This has been a solid foundation for the development of our cooperation.
There is a strong economic component in relations between the countries. France is the fourth country in terms of the volume of investments in Kazakhstan. Major French companies operate here.
Cooperation in education is actively developing. One of our priorities is teaching the French language. This year we have launched a section with advanced study of French at school No.25 in Almaty and No.17 in Nur-Sultan. We support them in every possible way: we finance teacher training in France and provide teaching aids.
Recently, we have launched a program of cooperation in health. We focus on oncology and access to medical care.
I am pleased to see that France has a good image in Kazakhstan.
More Kazakh students in France
There are two French-Kazakhstani universities in Kazakhstan: the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Institute and the Geoenergetics Center in Almaty. We'll be developing in that direction and creating new projects in higher education.
My country ranks sixth in the world in the number of foreign students. The percentage of Kazakhstani students is small. Therefore, we will be more active in attracting students from Kazakhstan. France has some of the best universities in Europe, where you can receive a high quality and affordable education. There are also many scholarship programs.