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Kazakh President Revives Idea Of Switching To Latin Script

Kazakh President Nazarbaev (file photo) (RFE/RL) October 24, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev today suggested that discussions resume on the expediency of adopting the Latin script for the Kazakh language.

Addressing a meeting of the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan, an advisory presidential body, Nazarbaev said a number of former Soviet republics had already switched to the Latin script from the Cyrillic alphabet and that Kazakhstan should consider making a similar move.

But he warned that the change should be made "with no haste" and suggested both scripts could co-exist for a certain period of time to make things easier.

Azerbaijan switched to the Latin script in 2001. Both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan abandoned the Cyrillic alphabet in the mid-1990s.

Nazarbaev also urged the government to promote the teaching of the Kazakh language among civil servants. "Command of the state langage must become mandatory for all Kazakhs who work for the government," he said.

Nazarbaev also said efforts must be made to replace Russian scientific terms with Kazakh ones.

But he insisted that the Russian language should remain as widespread as it is, "because it is a factor for Kazakhstan's competitiveness."

Kazakhstan has a large Russian-speaking minority, which is the predominant ethnic group in some northern areas.

(RFE/RL's Kazakh Service with addtional reporting by Kazakhstan Today and Kazinform)

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