ASTANA – Thanks to its internal policy, Kazakhstan has maintained its ethno-political balance in the new century and has retained its national characteristics, culture and statehood. This was evidenced by a recent opinion poll conducted by the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science in 2013.
A majority of respondents believe that the language policy is balanced and promotes interethnic harmony. The positions of the two major ethnic groups – Kazakhs and Russians – on this matter are practically identical. At the same time, there are Kazakhs who are dissatisfied with the development of the state language; they equal 7 percent of the population and believe that the interests of their native language are ignored for the sake of stability. This position is supported by 3.2 percent of Russian respondents and 4.7 percent of other ethnic groups.
Furthermore, the survey revealed some differences of opinion about the rates of introduction of the state language in different spheres of life. All in all, 41.1 percent of respondents (including about 49 percent of Kazakhs) think the state language should be the only mechanism for naturalisation, referencing the experience of developed countries with liberal-democratic traditions such as Germany, France, the USA and the UK. Almost the same number of respondents (44.8 percent) said the Kazakh language is developing normally. Russian respondents and people of other nationalities support the moderate introduction of the Kazakh language to a greater degree (about 56 percent).
The survey shows 45.3 percent of Kazakhs understand patriotism to include competency in the state language. In popularity, this definition follows the notion that patriotism is support for the President’s policies, an idea to which 49.6 percent subscribe. Moreover, 86.3 percent of Kazakhs believe the study of the state language is the central expression of patriotism. Among Russian respondents, this figure is 59 percent, and it is 77 percent among other nationalities.
According to the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, further development of the state language is a leading factor in the new Kazakhstan patriotism.
Head of the Philosophy Department of the Institute of Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies and leader of the “New Kazakhstan Patriotism” project Ayazhan Sagikyzy reminded that there are three perceptions of patriotism.
The first one is the unconditional acceptance of the motherland under any condition; 70.7 percent of respondents, according to the poll, embrace this type of patriotism. Among Kazakhs, 76.6 percent adopt this way of loving their country, which is quite understandable, because they have no other historical homeland.
The second stage is deterministic patriotism, in which the homeland is perceived as a state associated with certain values that psychologically and or materially satisfy the expectations of the individual. About 24 percent of respondents to the poll (among them 28.6 percent Russian and 31 percent of other nationalities) adhere to this form of patriotism.
Finally, the third form of patriotism, the pragmatic negation of patriotism in market conditions all together, is supported by only 3 percent of respondents.
The survey also indicated that the idea of ethnic enclaves and other types of isolation are not accepted in Kazakhstan.
The Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy is aimed at achieving social cohesion. According to the poll, achieving national unity is perceived as the duty of the overwhelming majority of citizens of the country.