27 Apr 2023 11:43

Kazakh president notes political nature of language debate

ASTANA. April 27 (Interfax) - A lack of sensitivity about the language issue may lead to tragic consequences, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.

"Any lack of sensitivity on this issue may lead to severe or even tragic consequences. This is what we are seeing abroad," Tokayev said at a session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan in Astana on Thursday.

"It is important to understand that any debate about language has a civil and political dimension to it rather than an ethnic one," he said.

The aspiration to learn the state language should become routine in Kazakhstan, but those Kazakh citizens who do not speak it should not have their rights infringed, Tokayev said.

"Citizens who have not learned the state language and do not speak it well enough should absolutely not [have their rights] infringed by the language principle. At the same time, learning the state language and striving to learn it should become an ordinary practice in our society," Tokayev said.

Getting all citizens to learn the Kazakh language remains a strategic policy element, as the state language serves as "an effective instrument of civil integration, and embodies cultural and spiritual unity," he said.