PREPARATORY CONFERENCE TO THE XV SESSION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF THE PEOPLE OF KAZAKHSTAN
ASTANA, 20TH OCTOBER
CHAIRMAN: SECRETARY OF STATE - MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN, MR K.B.SAUDABAYEV
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
There is an important upcoming event – the 15th Session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan - chaired by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Availing of this opportunity in the light of the forthcoming Kazakhstan Chairmanship of the OSCE, I would like to share with you some thoughts relating to a highly significant - I would say, vital - topic for our society…
I am speaking of the existing peace and accord in Kazakhstan, which is the basis of not only our prosperity and well-being at this moment in time, but the basis of our prosperity and well being in the future… It is also one of the main components of the positive image of Kazakhstan in the international arena.
We can say that our experience of keeping and strengthening interethnic and interreligious accord in Kazakhstan is one of the key factors of our nomination as Chair of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe next year. Kazakhstan is the first post-Soviet country and the first Asian state to hold this responsible and honorable post. This is a significant achievement, of which we should be proud.
That is the reason why promotion of Kazakhstan’s model of interethnic tolerance abroad this (and next) year is of great importance. The upcoming mission of Kazakhstan in the OSCE lays special responsibility on the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan…
As President Nazarbayev stressed, “Principles of tolerance are not only the norm of political culture for us, but one of the key principle of the State as well”.
As diplomatic meetings and contacts have shown, our European partners have strong expectations of Kazakhstan`s Chairmanship of the OSCE.
The Chairmanship coincides with a moment in history when the dialogue in human dimension between the East and West is experiencing difficulties. Concurrently, we witness some complicated processes in the OSCE’s European area, relating to increasing migration from Asian and African countries, the adaptation of migrants, and the spread of Islam.
In this regard Kazakhstan occupies a strong position of constant dialogue between civilizations, cultures and religions.
This year alone, representatives of the Secretariat and Members of the Council of the Assembly held important workshops and seminars with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebaek, in The Hague and Almaty. There were many issues discussed in the field of legislative implementation of social integration in multinational society, forming cultural understanding and respect, involvement of different ethnic groups in public and political life, the role and efficiency of consultative bodies such as Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan...
There were exchanges of views on Kazakhstan’s model of interethnic and interreligious tolerance, and discussions on further strengthening these ties and seeking ways to improve this kind of activity in the OSCE area.
In this regard I would like to stress that our realization of the language policy, including the right and freedom for all ethnic groups to study and publish media in their own language, are of great interest and a source of respect for our Western partners.
This highly sensitive language policy which has been implemented step-by-step and steadily from the date of Kazakhstan’s independence is one of the main factors of the unique interethnic harmony experienced in our country. Its construction forms the basis for successful development of Kazakhstan today and in the future. Impressive results of this policy are obvious.
In recent years, much has been done to develop the Kazakh language and expand its area of usage.
Special legislative, institutional and research platforms were created in order to develop the State language. In 1997 the Law ‘On Language’ was adopted, which declared Kazakh as the State language.
Since 2005, a Language Committee under the Ministry of Culture & Information has been working successfully. Republican Centres for the rapid acquisition of State languages have been established. There are 64 such Centers in the country and this number will be increased to nearly 120 by 2011. The Government finances the activities of public and ethno-cultural organizations to study the Kazakh language. In 2008 the government granted 5,1 billion tenge to implement State language policy.
Thus, gradually but irreversibly, an awareness of the role of the State language is rising naturally; the need for its development as one of the most important conditions for successful integration of the individual into society is increasingly being felt.
This understanding has driven the consistent policy of President Nazarbayev on the development of the State language, while preserving and supporting the development of languages of other ethnic groups in Kazakhstan. In addition, our policy and model has been lauded internationally – by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, for instance.
I would especially like to emphasize that in contrast to many other countries, Kazakhstan has achieved this without any disruption and conflict.
And such language policy, naturally and organically, resolutely and consistently, should be followed by the State henceforth. We need to proceed consistently towards this lofty goal – and never, ever prejudice any citizen of Kazakhstan.
We do and must take care of the development of the Kazakh language and culture but also about the prosperity of each of the national cultures that are an organic and integral part of the spiritual wealth of our country. We proceed from the Kazakh and Russian languages, to languages of other ethnic groups in Kazakhstan – as these also are our common heritage…
In general, the State will pursue balanced and coherent policies aimed at the further creation of favorable conditions for learning the State language, increasing its relevance while avoiding infringement of the language rights of citizens. In this sensitive area, I emphasize that any misuse of the media or other public tribune in this regard is absolutely unacceptable.
Russian and other languages are an essential and integral part of our common culture and history. Today the Russian language remains a powerful communicative tool; it retains its position in the educational sphere. Therefore, today, there are 1,672 Russian language schools. Russian language is a compulsory part of the unified state’s educational standard. Despite the widespread use of the Russian language, the State creates opportunities for studying Russian language in Sunday Schools. For example, such Sunday Schools in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Pavlodar and Astana are funded from the State budget.
Along with the Russian language the government supports the languages of other ethnic groups in Kazakhstan. There are 65 Uzbek language schools, 14 Uighur language schools, two Tajik language schools in Kazakhstan. In 104 schools, 18 native languages are studied as separate subjects. Sunday schools are supported where native languages are taught.
In general, the government strictly enforces existing legislation in the linguistic sphere, takes measures to expand the use of the State language, as well as the development of Russian - and languages of all ethnic groups in Kazakhstan.
Moreover, we intend to continue the implementation of the Head of State’s ‘Trinity of Languages’ programme - which fully promotes the study of not just Kazakh and Russian, but English as well.
Why do I say these things to this particular audience?
Because the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan is a unique body that has absorbed the rich palette of cultures and traditions of our multinational population…
Because the Assembly’s representatives of heads of central and local executive bodies present here today have a special responsibility to further strengthen peace and understanding and the unity of the people in this country….
Finally, I say these things because the key to further progress in this important area – an area that is an essential part of the strategic vision of President Nazarbayev - is based entirely on the interests of our multinational population. And those interests are immutable and constant: peace, stability and prosperity for each and every citizen of Kazakhstan These are values to which, throughout the years of formation and development of independent Kazakhstan, President Nazarbayev has devoted his tireless efforts.
Kazakhstan will be guided by the same values during its Chairmanship of one of the most authoritative international bodies - the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe - in 2010. In this capacity, we should show the international community the invincible unity, the secure peace and harmony in Kazakhstan.
In this regard, I would ask all of you, not only to be guided by these principles, but also to ensure their strict implementation in all central and local government authorities.
Thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing you at the forthcoming Session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan.