(KAZAKHSTAN) — The government of Kazakhstan, which once threatened to sue comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his 2006 mockumentary Borat, has done an about face following the sequel’s release on Friday.

Following the opening of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, the sequel to Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the Kazakh tourism board has officially adopted the Borat’s “very nice!” catchphrase as its slogan, according to The New York Times.

A series of new ads released on Sunday features visitors experiencing the country’s architecture, landscapes, food and culture for the first time, reacting with “That’s very nice!”

The idea to embrace the slogan came from Dennis Keen — a former Los Angeles resident who now makes his home in Kazakhstan and hosts a travel show airing on a state TV channel — and Yermek Utemissov, who helps foreign film companies shoot projects in the country, according to the Times.

“In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media,” Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of the Kazakhstan tourism board, tells the newspaper.  “Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there.  We would love to work with Cohen, or maybe even have him film here.”

Upon hearing about the reversal, Cohen said in a statement obtained by the Times, “This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country. I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version.”

By George Costantino
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