OSCE High Commissioner discusses minority participation, education during visit to Kazakhstan
23 September 2009. OSCE
The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebaek, urged Kazakhstan today to further enhance effective minority participation in the country.
Vollebaek, speaking at the end of a three-day visit to the country, recognized Kazakhstan’s record in supporting minority languages and culture and said minority participation needed further attention.
“The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, with its diverse composition and regional outreach, is an important mechanism of dialogue between the Government and ethnic groups. Making the Assembly an electable body would significantly increase its authority, legitimacy and visibility within Kazakhstani society,” Vollebaek said.
In talks with government officials and minority representatives, the High Commissioner also advised them to expand the Assembly’s work to the areas of policing, language learning, advocacy and conflict prevention at a regional and local level.
On education reform, Vollebaek expressed support for the Government’s efforts to introduce multilingual education in Kazakhstan.
“Multilingual education will improve the knowledge of Kazakh among minorities while maintaining their identity and helping them preserve their mother tongues. This is essential for long-term integration. At the same time, introduction of multilingual education has to be carried out gradually and in full consultation with parents, teachers and minority organizations,” Vollebaek said.
National minorities have a right to participate in decision-making when it comes to minority-related and other matters which may directly affect them, he added.
During his visit to Kazakhstan, the High Commissioner examined the role of consultative bodies at a joint seminar with the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan and looked into the situation of the Uighur and Uzbek communities in the country.