On May 19, a delegation headed by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to the Russian Federation, Vladimir Remek, visited our university within the framework of the investment project run by the Russian Federation and the Czech Republic.
Rector Dmitry Endovitsky welcomed the guests and told them about VSU’s history, the way the university collaborates with international companies, its projects and academic partnership with other universities in Russia and around the world.
“Our Faculty of Philology offers its students a special Czech language course, and it is one of the most popular. Back in the Soviet times, Voronezh had close partnership relations with Moravia. Unfortunately, we are currently not collaborating with any of the Czech universities, but I hope your visit will encourage an academic partnership. VSU is currently running 19 educational projects jointly with European universities. Among these projects are double degree programmes with universities of Austria, France, Spain, and other countries. High profile specialists trained at world leading education centres make our region more attractive from the economical point of view, and attract investment. So, we are quite willing to train Czech-speaking specialists to work in Czech business”.
Dmitry Endovitsky handed the Ambassador an official letter listing the major areas of academic partnership. The letter also includes suggestions on ways to promote Czech language and culture in the Voronezh Region, and organise summer schools for Czech students.
This was followed by a meeting with students. The guests spoke about the prospects of collaboration between VSU and the universities of the Czech Republic. Mr Remek first gave a speech and told the audience about himself. He became the first pilot astronaut in Czechoslovakia, and the first neither-Russian-nor-American man to perform a spaceflight. In January 2014, he became Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Russian Federation. After graduating from the Gagarin Air Force Academy in Moscow, Mr Remek served in the Czechoslovakia air forces. He was then selected to be an astronaut of the Intercosmos programme, run by the USSR in collaboration with other countries. Vladimir Remek completed a year-long training programme, after which he could work on Soyuz spaceships and Salyut space stations. Between 2 and 10 March 1978, he took part as cosmonaut-researcher in a spaceflight aboard Soyuz-28, piloted by colonel Alexey Gubarev. During the flight Mr Remek participated in a series of technical and biomedical experiments designed by Soviet and Czech researchers. In 2002–2004 Mr Remek worked as Trade Commissioner at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Moscow. In 2004–2013 he was one of the 23 members representing the Czech Republic in the European Parliament. He was member of the commission on industry and energy production and a member of the committee responsible for the EU – Russia partnership.
Our students had a lot of question to the ambassador. Some of them were in Czech.
“How did you feel during the spaceflight?”
“It had always been my dream to go on a space mission. Of course, I felt nervous, but at the same time excited. The first two days were rather tense, I felt the pressure, but then everything went Ok. I knew it was the only such chance in my life, so I tried to get the most out of it. I watched and watched. There was the same sky above us, the same stars, but a lot brighter. I saw what most people can only dream about.”
“Is there any chance of a visa-free regime between the Czech Republic and Russia? For example, for students or researchers.”
“There was a visa-free regime in the 90-s. Introducing visas was one of the terms on which the Czech Republic became a member of the EU. But a lot of people are in favour of the visa-free regime. As to students, there are various programmes that make the process of getting visa a lot easier.”
“Are there any agreements of academic partnership between Russia and the Czech Republic?”
“Yes, there are quite a number of agreements, for example, with the universities in Nizhniy Novgorod, Khanty-Mansiysk, and Kazan.”
“Are young people in your country interested in the Russian language and culture?”
“Yes, the Russian language is becoming popular again, As our countries are historically connected. But still, English and German are more popular.”
“What do you consider to be the possible collaboration areas between the Czech Republic and Russia, and namely VSU? Business? Research?”
“On the one hand, the Voronezh Region is one of the centres of agriculture in Russia. On the other hand, Voronezh is also a large educational centre with a lot of students. We are eager to develop our partnership in various areas - trade, economy, engineering industry, technologies, and, of course, academic exchange.”
“What do you think about our university and about the students here?”
“Young people today are, of course, very different from their parents and grandparents. They are interested in different things, and they have greater opportunities, as well as greater responsibility. I am very glad to see young people here, in Voronezh, are interested in the Czech language. This is a good chance to learn about the culture and encourage friendship between our countries.”