“We will work on organizing children’s exchanges and German children’s trips to Artek, so that they can learn about the culture and traditions of the two countries,” said Deputy of the German Parliament Hugh Bronson during a parliamentary delegation’s visit to Artek International Children’s Center on February 5, 2018.
Deputies from Bundestag and regional parliaments visited Artek as part of a larger trip to Crimea. At the center, the visitors were shown the infrastructure and briefed on educational programs. They also talked to children and discussed preparations for signing an agreement on regular visits to Artek by German children with Artek’s director Aleksei Kasprzhak.
Members of the German delegations were especially impressed with the center’s size: “The area is impressive, as well as the fact that Artek can accommodate several thousand children,” Hugh Bronson said. He also noted that Artek’s international status was its advantage: “It is wonderful that this is an international place and children from many different countries stay here.”
Deputy Harald Laatsch was surprised to see that Artek is a center where children from different social backgrounds can live: “Before that, we thought that only high society children come here, but now we can see this is not true. These are ordinary children.” He also noted the high living standards the children enjoy: “Artek has very good supplies and children can enjoy delicious high-quality food. I also liked the children’s quarters, plus conditions they live in.” The deputy also added he was impressed with the size of the Artek Arena: “What impressed me most was the huge amphitheater of the Artek Arena; I have never seen anything like it.” The deputies also pointed out the unique nature around Artek, which, in their opinion, was important for creating a special atmosphere for education: “This area motivates children to do something. Everything is taken care of, our impressions are wonderful. It is very beautiful here.”
Christian Blex, deputy from North Rhine-Westphalia, noted the engineering educational programs after visiting a robotics lesson: “Before being elected to parliament, I worked as a mathematics and physics teacher. We have seen a lot here, I must say, to assess the perfect organization of Artek. We are not surprised that there are many people in Russia who are skilled in computer science and technics. In this sense, Russia is a very strong country, and this area is not as well developed in Germany.”
Organizer of the visit Yevgeny Schmidt summed up the visitors’ reviews: “Germany has nothing like it, so the deputies want to organize trips to Artek for German children. We are working on it, and the first group may be sent here this year.”
When asked how German children can come to Artek, Aleksei Kasprzhak noted that “50 children from Germany stayed in Artek during the last two years,” and added that vouchers can be bought as part of the five-percent commercial quota or won for free by participating in the international Russian contests: “95 percent of the vouchers are free: children get them for their achievements. Together with a number of social and governmental organizations, we establish contests where children from various countries can participate. You can do it: make sure that German children will get here, and, even more important, for free.”
Gunnar Lindemann from Berlin called the visit to Artek a chance “to re-establish contacts between Germany and Crimea and give German school children an opportunity to come to Artek, and, in the future, a chance for Crimean children to visit Germany.” At the same time, the visitors recognized the negative role sanctions play in Russian-German educational exchanges: “We would like to make ties between our countries’ children firmer and more stable so they could go to summer camps and to Artek. Unfortunately, due to anti-Russian sanctions, it is impossible for Crimean children to visit Germany, but, of course, we are against it.”
Artek’s director Aleksei Kasprzhak urged his colleagues to admit that projects involving children must stay away from politics: “We create the future together with children, who will grow up tomorrow to build this world for us, a world without borders, without restrictions or sanctions we have today. It is time we agreed that projects concerning children all around the world must stay out of politics and political restrictions.”
“I believe when our German colleagues saw Artek they felt sorry that for political reasons they have to narrow down their children’s interests, thus making it impossible for them to come here to us. But this is exactly why I saw their firm intention to develop partnership programs with Artek,” Aleksei Kasprzhak said after the meeting with the German delegation.