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President Tokayev: We have a lot in common with Armenia

The day after his election to office, President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev held a meeting with representatives of Kazakhstan and foreign media in Akorda. It should be reminded that the event took place on Monday, 10 June 2019. After a brief introduction by Kazakhstan’s elected president, the reporters were given the opportunity to ask questions from the floor. While answering those questions, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev spoke three languages – Kazakh, Russian and English.

During the press conference, Kazakhstan’s elected president was asked, among other things, how he envisaged the development of relations between his country and Armenia, investment plans.
Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev gave the following answer to this question: «I feel a lot of sympathy for your country. I recently met with Nikol Pashinyan. By the way, he’s supposed to call me in five minutes. As I understand it, in order to offer his congratulations. We agreed here together to fill gaps in the field of cooperation with specific projects. We have a lot in common, by the way, with Armenia in terms of history and even language. I am therefore optimistic for the future cooperation. There can be no doubt that we in Kazakhstan will do everything in our power to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
Do not doubt that from our side, from the side of Kazakhstan, everything possible will be done to strengthen cooperation».
This would seem to be quite a favorable comment, but there were those who found reason to resent it.
Just two days after the abovementioned press conference had been held (on 12 June), Armenian Report, in article by Hrachya Galustyan entitled «Примитивная ложь Токаева: новый казахстанский диктатор и демократичная Армения» – «Tokayev’s very simple lie: Kazakhstan’s new dictator and democratic Armenia», said: «It does seem strange. In any case, Tokayev might have understood that there is nothing in common between the Kazakh and Armenian languages. That means these nomads can just by definition have nothing in common with the Armenian people. It is even ridiculous to talk about how much is the difference between their contributions to the world culture and history».
Such a challenge to our Kazakh people should not have been ignored. And the Kazakhstani reaction was not long in coming.
One week later (on 19 June), Zonakz.net went back to this issue and published a paper under the headline «В чем же мог ошибиться президент РК К.-Ж.Токаев, ска­завший «У нас очень много общего с Арменией с точки зрения истории и даже языка» – «Where might President of the Republic of Ka­zakhstan K.-Zh.Tokayev have gone wrong, while saying «We have a lot in common, by the way, with Armenia in terms of history and even language», stating:
«It is perhaps in there somewhere «even ridiculous to talk about how much is the difference» between the contributions of Armenians and Kazaks «to the world culture and history».
But for us here in Kazakhstan, for the people who dared through the newly elected national president, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, express our warm, friendly and in some way even kindred attitude towards Armenia, which is the economic and political partner of our country (through inter-State entities including the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization), it doesn’t seem so funny hearing a representative of the sister country say such a thing imbued with that much arrogance towards our Republic and our population.
According to the view of this article’ author, we Kazakhs should become discouraged and, figuratively speaking, keep our heads down, realizing our historically immutable insignificance in comparison with the true greatness of his nation. This type of self-elevation at the cost of unilaterally debauching and humiliating others could hardly contribute to building confidence and productive relationships within the framework of post-Soviet inter-State economic and military-political entities such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. We should also remember that Armenia and Kazakhstan were parts of the single statehood system of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for seven decades. And this period indelibly inscribed in the history of the Armenian and Kazakh peoples.
Yet their interrelationships in the past have not been limited to just their having been parts of the Russian Empire and the Soviet state. This is what Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev meant by saying, «We have a lot in common, by the way, with Armenia in terms of history and even language». There was no ill-considered pronouncement by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan at his meeting with representatives of Kazakhstan and foreign media in Akorda on 10 June 2019. It suffices to recall the Armenian-Kipchak written monuments, in which the Armenian-Kipchak language was referred (by its native speakers) to as «Khypchak tili» («the Kipchak language», ‘the language spoken by Kipchaks»), or as «bizim til» («our language»). Kazakhs need no translation in order to understand the meaning of both these terms. Known for the written monuments Kipchak-speaking Armenians, who professed Christianity in the tradition of the Armenian Apostolic Church, lived in large colonies on the territory of modern Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Moldova. In addition, there is certain evidence indicating that in the XII-XIII centuries Kipchaks, who accepted the faith of the Armenian Apostolic Church lived on the territory of of the South Caucasus. One of the surviving monasteries of the Harich complex in the Artik district of the Shirak region of Armenia, built at the turn of the the XII-XIII centuries is called Hpchahavank (from the Armenian khpchakh «kypchak» + wank «monastery»).
All this is not a novelty to those people in Kazakhstan, who take an interest in such topics. A monograph by Alexander Garkavets entitled «Kypchak languages: Kuman and Armenian-Kypchak languages», was published back in the Soviet times in our republic».

There is one more point that remains to be clarified: what is the connection between Kipchaks and Kazakhs?
Murad Adji, a popular author (particularly in Kazakhstan), who as a Kumyk by nationality undertook to study the topic of Kipchaks, or Polovtsy in his search of deep ancestral roots, at first imperatively considered that «Kipchaks» or «Polovtsy» had been blond people. Like, the etymology (Russian word «Polovtsy» is related to the adjective «polovyi» which in its literal translation means «yellow») speaks for itself.
In the initial stage of his studies, not only Kazakhs, but even Nogays, who had historically been and actually are the North Caucasian natives, has been totally ignored.
Research studies led him to Kazakhstan at that time. However, it follows from Adji’s works of this period, that back then, he did not take into account the Kazakhs in connection with the Kipchak or Polovtsian subject, and therefore he didn’t take any notice of them. He looked for Kipchak or Polovtsian traces among the Yaikian, i.e. Ural Cossacks. But over time, the search for Polovtsy’s and Kipchaks’ current descendants finally led him to the Kazakhs. That is, he found the answer.
And now a few words about the relationship between Kipchaks and Kazakhs. Historians and linguists maintain that Kipchaks played a particularly important role in the formation of the Kazakh nationality. And yet such an assertion may sound strange to a modern Kazakh, who just like his predecessors, has a rather intimate understanding of the tribal structure of his own people. After all, Kazakhstani Kipchaks today mostly live in the Kostanay and Kyzylorda regions (Middle Syr Darya area), and their share of the total Kazakh population is quite low. Okay, let’s focus on what is said in the authoritative and absolutely impartial Encyclopedia Britannica about the origin of the Kazakh ethnicity: «The Kazakh people apparently were formed from a base of the Kipchak tribes that had constituted part of the population of the Golden Horde» (British En­cyclopaedia (Micropaedia), vol. 10, p. 196). It is conceivable that this idea is not developed from scratch. There­fore, we can draw the following conclusion: the Kazakhs were and are the immediate heirs of what is in the history, known as «The Kipchak ethnocultural community».


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