Talgat ZHUMAGULOV “Rukhani Zhangyru Programme in Kazakhstan's Foreign Policy"



Chairperson of the Committee for International Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Rukhani Zhangyru Programme in Kazakhstan's Foreign Policy

In April 2017, in his keynote article “Course towards the Future: Modernisation of Kazakhstan's Identity," (Rukhani Zhangyru) President Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined six specific projects designed to start the spiritual modernisation of Kazakhstan. It refers to a step-by-step transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet and the New Humanitarian Knowledge, 100 New Textbooks in the Kazakh Language, Tugan Zher, Sacred Geography of Kazakhstan, Modern Kazakh Culture in the Global World and 100 New Faces of Kazakhstan projects. Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Aida Balayeva, Head of the Domestic Policy Department at the Presidential Administration co-lead the Modern Kazakh Culture in the Global World project.

The President's tasks laid the new foundation for Kazakhstan's cultural diplomacy. The programme set clear priorities and strengthened cooperation with relevant agencies – the Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Information and Communication.

Rukhani Zhangyru fully covered the institutional development of the Foreign Ministry itself. Increasing the competitiveness of Kazakh diplomats, streamlined and transparent HR policy, digital diplomacy, pragmatic and rational decision-making, attracting world experience and commitment to the best traditions and openness to public are the systemic tasks corresponding with Rukhani Zhangyru.

In this article, we will focus on the main aspects of the MFA and Kazakhstan's foreign missions in implementing the programme of the head of state.

Latin Alphabet. The MFA studied the experience of foreign countries that had recently switched from one script to another, primarily to the Latin alphabet. The analysis revealed both positive and negative examples of the transition of some countries to another alphabet.

The Kazakh leadership decided on a step-by-step implementation, all while continuously explaining to society the need for reform. The MFA directly participates in awareness-raising activities both within the country and abroad. The new alphabet is designed to develop the potential of the Kazakh language. Today, the Latin alphabet is used for computer codes, financial and business transactions. It is a universal keyboard layout and understandable for most of the world's population. Modernisation of the Kazakh language will meet the practical needs of the development of Kazakh society, which becomes part of a global, interconnected and competitive world. A significant part of the Kazakh diaspora abroad also uses the Latin alphabet.

The switch of Kazakh into the Latin script was widely covered in the world media, as well as in academic circles. Experts emphasise the scale of the language reform and the fact that until 2025, Kazakhstan has a lot of work to do to introduce the new alphabet.

Currently, the MFA is preparing for transliteration of the legal framework on international issues into the Latin alphabet. There are plans to hold consultations on experience exchange with specialists from Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

Tugan Zher. The MFA's underlying principle on this project is consolidating relations of compatriots living abroad with their country of birth, including representatives of the Kazakh diaspora, Kazakh community, students, employees of foreign companies and other citizens and natives of Kazakhstan who now live abroad. In addition, each embassy implements its own action plan to promote Rukhani Zhangyru.

The range of measures taken by foreign missions together with compatriots living abroad is very wide and varied, from thematic conferences to flash mobs, and tree planting campaigns. For the first time, interaction with the Kazakh diaspora and community has become conceptual and systemic.

The MFA's task in this project is to strengthen the ties of compatriots with their country of birth, its culture, customs and traditions, which is the most important feature of patriotism, the basis of the cultural and genetic code of a nation.

Sacred Geography of Kazakhstan. Here, our main focus is to inform the world community about the history of sacred places and sights of our country, including through press tours for foreign journalists and bloggers.

The MFA held a press tour on Nov. 15-21, 2017 for foreign media specialising in culture and art. Twenty-one journalists and bloggers from 14 countries who took part in the trip visited significant cultural sights in Astana, Almaty, Shymkent and Turkestan. Due to the wide, positive response in the Kazakh and foreign media, similar events for foreign correspondents will be continued. There are plans to show foreign journalists a group of monuments around Ulytau and the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, ancient monuments of Taraz and the Beket-Ata mosque, the Otrar fortress and the Tanbaly petroglyphs, sacred places of East Kazakhstan and many other sites.

More tourists are expected to visit national sacred sites, which will help boost the recognition of our country globally as a result of published articles and blogs.

100 New Faces of Kazakhstan. The MFA's task is to show the world community the current level of Kazakhstan's development through the lives of particular people. Relevant articles are regularly published in the English-language newspaper The Astana Times. Work is under way to organise interviews of renowned Kazakh personalities by foreign journalists.

It is also important to engage active and promising compatriots in foreign policy, events and projects of foreign missions through “people-to-people diplomacy," as well as to invite them to the meetings of the MFA Public Council, which will certainly make an additional, considerable contribution to the concept of Kazakhstan's foreign policy.

Modern Kazakh Culture in the Global World. The project is being implemented in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Sport, which approved the corresponding 2018-2020 action plan. Tours of Kazakh artists of the Astana Opera and Astana Ballet theaters, creative groups of the Kazakh Concert organisation, M. Auezov Kazakh State Academic Drama Theatre, Abay Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and others are planned to be held at the world's leading concert venues. The MFA, in turn, provides organisational and information support for cultural events. Our embassies have established meaningful contacts with the management of the world's largest libraries, archives, museums, galleries, concert halls, theatres and other cultural institutions that expressed interest in the projects relevant to Kazakhstan.

Works of modern Kazakh culture (fine arts, literature, classical and traditional music, theatre, cinema and choreography) will be promoted first in developed countries with a large number of consumers of cultural products and users of the UN languages.

The foreign ministry initiated a number of projects independently. For instance, it launched the project on digitising literary works of Kazakh authors translated into foreign languages. The National Translation Bureau and all the Kazakh embassies abroad are involved in this work. Over the years of independence, a large number of translated works have been gathered. Their online representation will be helpful for generating interest in Kazakh culture. Several books have already been digitised. The project, as it turned out, is not an easy one; it requires addressing issues of copyright and publishing rights, scanning, editing, design and other aspects. All of them are being meaningfully tackled.

Together with a number of leading world universities, we are considering the establishment of scholarships for Kazakh scientists specialising in cultural studies and art history.

Press tours for foreign journalists organised by the MFA are also aimed at demonstrating the best examples of contemporary culture and the art of our country. Their programme includes plays and performances of the Astana Opera, Astana Ballet, Abay Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and Zhambyl Kazakh State Philharmonic; visits to the A. Kasteyev State Museum of Arts and the Nur Alem pavilion at the EXPO 2017 site; meetings with writers, poets, art critics, cultural specialists, linguists and experts and visits to Kazakh Film.

We not only want to show what we have, but also to understand how the foreign community assesses the current state of our rich culture. What is actually in demand and really of interest abroad? The challenge is to make our culture more competitive and open up new avenues for it by presenting it in the international arena.

At the same time, the demonstration of Kazakhstan's culture to the world stage will help improve its perception and the attitude towards it in the country itself.

The rich history and significant modern cultural potential can become one of the major factors in building Kazakhstan's positive image. The implementation of Rukhani Zhangyru is a comprehensive and interesting work that will make our country more competitive in the 21st century.

Created at : 23.04.2018, 11:20, Updated at : 23.04.2018, 11:30