French President’s Visit To Kazakhstan: Macron Opted For Easiest Way Of Pleasing Kazakh Leadership And Society – OpEd 


What a politician wouldn’t do, while he is visiting a nation that is his country’s biggest supplier of raw uranium (2659 tons) and major supplier of oil and rare minerals?! 

While visiting the then-Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in October 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is said to be an absolute abstainer who doesn’t even drink champagne, drank a glass of vodka. 

Francois Hollande who went over there in December 2014, agreed to wear a Kazakh national costume and a headdress and be photographed wearing them. This led to the then-French president being severely ridiculed by his country’s media.  Here are some good examples of this: L’Express: “Photo de Hollande au Kazakhstan: le cadeau gênant de Nazarbaïev” – “Photo of Hollande in Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev’s embarrassing gift”; France Info: “Hollande au Kazakhstan : la photo qui gêne l’Elysée” – “Holland in Kazakhstan: the photo that embarrasses the Elysée”;‎: “Kazakhstan: François Hollande n’échappe pas à la chapka” – “Kazakhstan: François Hollande does not escape the shapka”; Metronews: “Hollande au Kazakhstan : la photo qui embarrasse l’Elysée” – “Holland in Kazakhstan: the photo that embarrasses the Elysée”; TF1‎‎: “Mais que fait François Hollande avec cette chapka et ce manteau kazakh ?” – “But what is François Hollande doing with this shapka and this Kazakh coat?”; “Le problème avec les cadeaux diplomatiques, ce n’est pas la chapka de François Hollande” – “The problem with diplomatic gifts, this is not François Hollande’s hat”; LeLab Europe1: “L’Élysée furieux après la diffusion de la photo de François Hollande en costume traditionnel kazakh” – “The Élysée is furious after the dissemination of François Hollande’s photo in traditional Kazakh costume”. 

Those prior experiences seem to have been taken into account by the Élysée in preparation for the said visit of the current French President, Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron, to Kazakhstan. Yet apparently, there remained a matter of what must he do to succeed in winning a positive Kazakhstani attitude towards him and France. Now it is already known what choice was made in this regard. Macron has seemingly opted for the easiest and safest way of pleasing the Kazakhs. In his apparent desire to please the Kazakh leadership and public following the example of Sarkozy and Hollande, the current French President, who arrived in Astana on November 1, 2023, began to speak – as was enthusiastically noted in the Kazakhstani media – in Kazakh. If to speak in essence, he merely published a tweet in Kazakh, that most likely had been written by someone else fluent in Kazakh. But what’s done is done. The important point here is not who wrote it, but who is said to be the author of this tweet.

Apart from this, Emmanuel Macron had told Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev himself a lot of praising and pleasant things during his stay in Astana. At a meeting with Kazakhstan’s leader, the French President complimented his country for refusing to side with Moscow on Ukraine and announced business deals, including a declaration of intent for a partnership in the much-sought area of rare earths, and rare metals.

“I don’t underestimate by any means the geopolitical difficulties, the pressures… that some may be putting on you”, Emmanuel Macron told Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. 

The Kazakh leader described Macron’s visit to Kazakhstan as ‘historic’.

“Dear Mr President! We welcome your visit, it is a big event. Thank you for accepting my invitation and coming to Kazakhstan on an official visit. Cooperation between Kazakhstan and France is developing dynamically, but it is necessary to give it additional impetus. That is why we can call your visit historic and very important. I am confident that today’s negotiations will be productive”, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.

“France values… the path you are following for your country, refusing to be a vassal of any power and seeking to build numerous and balanced relations with different countries”, the French president told Tokayev.

In a word, it seems that the parties remained quite satisfied with each other.

Akhas Tazhutov

Akhas Tazhutov is a political analyst from Kazakhstan.

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