Vollebaek Praises Kazakhstan for Open Dialogue and Inter-Ethnic Harmony
Nov 11. MFA
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek praised Kazakhstan’s commitment to the promotion of inter-ethnic harmony within the country and to an open dialogue and cooperation with his office as he visited the country on November 10 and 11.
In Astana on November 11, Vollebaek met Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev, Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov, deputy chairman of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan Yeraly Togzhanov, as well as officials at the ministries of education and science and of communications and information. A day earlier in Almaty, Vollebaek met members of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan and others.
“Kazakhstan has successfully implemented OSCE recommendations in various directions. Thanks to President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s leadership, Astana has held a number of events, including the OSCE Summit, and the OSCE high-level conference on tolerance and non-discrimination. Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship in 2010 provided an opportunity to project its positive experience in the sphere of inter-ethnic relations,” Saudabayev said as he met Vollebaek in the Akorda presidential residence. Saudabayev was Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State and Foreign Minister and chairman-in-office of the OSCE in 2010.
“Kazakhstan has been one of the main partners for our office over many years and has played an important role as the OSCE chair last year and I believe with the help of Kazakhstan, this year chairing the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, the OSCE can have a significant role to play in the Central Asian region,” Vollebaek told journalists at a briefing after the meeting.
At Vollebaek’s meeting with Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Yerzhan Kazykhanov said that Kazakhstan attaches high importance to issues of interethnic and inter-religious accord. He thanked Vollebaek for the support during the year of Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship. Vollebaek, in his turn, thanked Kazakhstan for open dialogue and sustained efforts to strengthen inter-ethnic harmony in the country and expressed confidence in further development of stable relationship.
“I believe our cooperation in this important sphere is exemplary,” Kazykhanov wrote in his Twitter account about the meeting.
His discussions with Vollebaek also focused on issues of education for various ethnic groups. The High Commissioner praised Kazakhstan’s experience in implementing multilingual projects in southern Kazakhstan, which promote schooling in different languages, as well as teaching the state language to ethnic groups in the region. He also noted that with Kazakhstan’s participation, this work could be extended to the entire Central Asia.
With the more than 130 ethnic groups in the Kazakhstan and the country’s Constitution (Article 14) providing equality for all the citizens regardless of their ethnicity, race, sex, religion, social status, etc., the term “national minorities” as such does not exist in the political parlance.