Kazakh strongman backs switch to Latin alphabet 17 декабря 2012, 15:16
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Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. ©REUTERS
Kazakh strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday called for a modernisation drive to turn the energy-rich Central Asian country into of the world's most developed, including a switch to the Latin alphabet, AFP reports.
In a state of the nation address, the president said that "Our main goal is to enter the club of top 30 most developed countries of the world" by 2050.
Nazarbayev also called for the ex-Soviet country to switch from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet by 2025 in what he called a modernising move to make it easier to use the Internet and learn English.
"From 2025 we need to modernize our language to use Latin fonts and a Latin alphabet," said Nazarbayev, 72, who has ruled the country since the Soviet era and is now focusing on grand legacy projects.
"This will enable our children to have a better understanding of the English language (and) the Internet," he said.
The Kazakh language is a Turkic one and uses some additional letters that are not found in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.
The Kazakh written language has undergone numerous changes, being at various times written in Arabic and Latin letters.
The Soviet Union encouraged the use of Cyrillic letters in its republics and a move to the Latin alphabet would break symbolic ties with neighbouring Russia.
Nazarbayev has left his stamp on Kazakhstan with a futuristic new capital city Astana and grandiose projects such as the largest tent in the world, designed by British architect Norman Foster.