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AND ROLE IN
after 24 years of independence
“From its President to its painters, poets,
economists and entrepreneurs, this is a nation
confidently on the move. We need to
understand the new national identity of this
increasingly successful player on the world
stage” – Jonathan Aitken, the author of the
book “Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes”
KEY FACTS ABOUT KAZAKHSTAN
- Kazakhstan is the 9th large territory in the world (2,7 millions sq.km) with 17,6 million
- The capital is Astana city established in 1998
- Became independent in 1991, 16th of December
- More than 150 nations and ethnics live in Kazakhstan with Kazakhs (66%), Russians (21%),
Uzbeks (3%), Ukrainians (1,7%), Uigurs (1,4%), etc.
- Kazakh is the state language, Russian has a status of official
- Contains rich oil recourses with 1.6 million barrels per day production, minerals (ferrous
and non-ferrous metals)
- GNI per capita is $11,7 millions (2014, Worldbank.org)
- GDP per capita is $12,4 millions (2014, Worldbank.org)
ORIGINS OF KAZAKH-RUSSIAN
• Leaders of Kazakh tribes (Hans) asked patronage of Russian Empire to provide a
defence against jungar invaders in the south-east boarders
• Rebellion of Kazakhs protested against Russian colonisation
• Renaissance of Kazakh literature: Abai – a great philosopher of the time
• New generation of Kazakhs – the raise of communist wave in the steppe
Our close relationships with Russia began in 1731. It was trouble times for Kazakh Khannate as
Kazakhs tried to defend their territories from Chinese Jungar invaders. The war of protecting the
lands lasted around 100 years, the nation suffered many deprivations and that was why the leader of
Western Kazakh tribes Han Abulkhair made a decision to ask for a patronage from Russian Empire’s
Queen Elizabeth II.
From that time the factual colonisation of the vast Kazakh territory began. Thus the threat of jungars
invaders was terminated Kazakhs became aware of coming new invader from the North who
implanted new rules and laws in a freedom-loving steppes and counted themselves as occupiers with
extremely bad relation to the local people. It was a reason why rebellious leaders of several Kazakh
tribes began to undermine the process of colonisation attacking Russian fortresses. But it’s clear that
all these rebellions were depressed and the leaders were killed. Despite the resistance to colonisation
positive changes came to steppe as well. The representatives of the richest Kazakh society having
finished education in the Russian institutes came back to steppes educated, fluently speaking Kazakh
and Russian. They were aware of own people illiteracy and that was why began to open public
schools for children. Still laws predominated in steppes which restricted the rights of girls to study.
Despite this fact, all the children could learn at schools run by rich and educated Kazakhs.
One of the brightest philosophy of that time was Abai Kunanbayev who left a rich literature heritage
after him – the most known today is his words of edification to his nation which are actual even in
With coming of XX century the moods in steppes changed as they changed in
whole Russian Empire. A new political course was being formed which
proclaimed equality among all the people and authority which must be given to
the working class, also what is very important that this course promised
independence to the States which were been colonized. Kazakh intellectuals
found these ideas impressing as they thought it would be a chance for their
nation to become independent and to develop the country in its own way.
Among those Kazakhs were writers, poets, civil activists, owners of first
newspapers and schools Akhmet Baitursinov, Alikhan Bukeikhanov, Magzhan
Zhumabayev, Mirzhakip Dulatov, Iliyas Djansugurov and plenty of others who
were apparently repressed and killed after years of Communism settled down as
a new political system in Kazakhstan.
ORIGINS OF KAZAKH-RUSSIAN
1917 October revolution and its consequences
Severe communist politics and dark times of 1930-40: hunger in steppes,
repressions, World War II (Great patriotic war 1941-45)
Resettlement of nations and tragic testing of nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan
Growth of national consciousness – Jeltoksan (December) movement
Nursultan Nazarbayev – a new political figure
In 1917 there was a military coup and change of the power in Russia.
Communists killed all the members of Russian monarchy in the Winter Palace
and took the power into their hands. It was a new Soviet State created in 1921.
The communists promised a freedom and equal opportunities for poor and
working people; so people who were deprived by the Tsarism power
completely supported a new Communism leaders. But proclaimed freedoms
with the years turned to totalitarianism which restricted all the freedoms mainly
the freedom of expression. Those ones who criticised the system were sent to
prisons or shot down. All these “black” methods of fighting with opposition
were initiated by Joseph Stalin who ruled a new formed Soviet Union from 1922
So that was why 1930-s was the most difficult times for Kazakh people who
initially supported a new political system but soon were depressed with its
consequences came to the steppes. Kazakhs from ancient times raised domestic
animals such as horses and ships and the richness of the families were
evaluated by a quantity of domestic animals. During 1930-s all the domestic
animals were deliberately confiscated which led strictly to the starvation and
death of the nation in the severe climatic conditions.
Only in modern society those mistakes were admitted. Thus, the fact is that
more than 6 mln. Kazakhs died during hunger and repressions of XX century
which was almost 65% of 1913 population. Moreover, part of those who stayed
alive left Kazakhstan and settled down in Mongolia, China, Uzbekistan, Turkey
and Iran. The World War II also took lives of millions people across all Soviet
Union, Kazakhs were in those dreadful lists as well.
If to ask how Kazakhstan became a multi-national country the
answer could be find in 1960-s. There was a big resettlement of
ethnic Russians to Kazakhstan as it was declared a big project of
developing virgin lands in the north of Republic. So the number of
Russians in Kazakhstan peaked at 70% point whereas local people
reached only 20%. Together with Russians ethnic Ukranians,
Belarusians, Germans, Koreans, Uigurs and others came to work
and live in Kazakhstan.
XX century for Kazakhstan was very tough times. Nevertheless, the
nation all the time was united and was stronger than outer troubles.
Kazakhs also stayed alive after nuclear weapons testing in Eastern
Kazakhstan, Semei city, but no longer could stay silent. The testing
began in 1949 and only in 1991 Semei polygon was closed as a
damage caused to the environment was too high.
There were 456 explosions which all together caused a bigger
negative effect on environment and health of local people than
tragic explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
In 1980-s all these biases in policy towards local people became a trigger for people’s
resistance against a system. The fact that exposed people’s anger was change of First
secretary of Communist party in Kazakhstan who never lived in Kazakhstan and didn’t know
the interests and needs of local people. He was appointed by Moscow leaders. Young people
of Almaty city went out to the streets protesting this fact. It was a cold December (in Kazakh
Jeltoksan), outside was -30 degree below 0. New appointed Secretary was too afraid of such
people’s behaviour so he appealed to Moscow and said that it was armed demonstration
against ruling party thus the demonstration was originally peaceful. So then soldiers of the
Special Army Forces arrived to Almaty and fiercely punished locals by beating them with
sticks and drenched with cold water right in the cold streets. A lot of people were arrested
and imprisoned. But nobody left indifferent. So the protests against the system spread all
over the country.
In that time a new figure came to political arena.
He was Kazakh, born and raised in ordinary Kazakh
family, who understood all the willing of his nation
and knew how to communicate with Moscow
rulers, so he succeeded in his political career. His
name was Nursultan Nazarbayev. Those times was
crucial in his own representation as a politician. He
heard people’s anger and he did all the best to
negotiate with Moscow to solve problematic
aspects. It was he who closed Semei polygon, made
Kazakh a state language, created Semei-Nevada
organization for supporting non-nuclear world. In
1990 he became a President of Kazakhstan
socialistic Republic and in 1991 after Soviet Union
collapsed he became a President of independent
Kazakhstan. He is still on his position.
ORIGINS OF KAZAKH-RUSSIAN
XX AND XXI CENTURY
Creation of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)
An idea of Eurasian world
“Napkin” diplomacy and assigning Caspian Sea’s borders
A new history of independence began from creating a new non-political
organization CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) in 1991 which
members became 11 ex-Soviet countries. 3 years later in 1994 President
Nazarbayev sounded his idea of Eurasian world which key point was an
integration on economic and social levels with Eurasian countries. Nobody
paid attention to the idea in those times but it became actual in recent times
and obtained clear forms in 2008. First Custom Union was created then in
2014 it renamed to Eurasian economic community (EAEC) which opened
borders to commodities and established a free trade zone between 3 member
countries – Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. EAEC is a prototype of European
Union but in Eurasian part of the world.
It is now Kazakhstan is a stable developing country which has achieved economic
success but in late 90-s was time for so-called “napkin” diplomacy. The problem
was in dividing a territory of Caspian Sea which is known as cornucopia of oil.
After several years of discussions Russia did not tend to ratify memorandum
about division of Caspian Sea borders, so President Nazarbayev personally
visited President Yeltsin in his apartment. There Nazarbayev after long hours of
discussions took a napkin and draw the borders of Caspian Sea which Boris
Yeltsin understood and accepted. Then it took another several hours to decrypt
Presidents’ handwritings and to create a document which delineated seabed
borders of Caspian in accordance with a median line modified by two Presidents.
This was an illustration of personal diplomacy of the President Nazarbayev who
then became known in the world as a competent negotiator.
Hu Jintao: “China has no better friend in
today’s world than Kazakhstan” (China-
Kazakhstan summit, 2011).
Affirming State’s borders – negotiations with Jiang Zemin
During 2009-2013 period Kazakhstan received about $23 billions of
Chinese investment mostly into oil output and manufacturing industry
Ambitious mutual projects including expansion of oil and gas pipelines
between the countries, a creation of Europe-China highway with
running across Kazakhstan’s 3 000 km. territory, free trade zone at the
new border crossing of Khorgos
As China remains the 2nd biggest investment partner of Kazakhstan the
relationships with this state are build up in a friendly way. So, ex-chairman of
PRC Communist party Hu Jintao said during China-Kazakhstan summit in 2011
that China has no better friend in today’s world than Kazakhstan.
And it were not just beautiful words with no meaning. The confirmation to
these words was vast investments to Kazakhstani economics and realisation of
large interethnic projects.
During 2009-2013 period Kazakhstan received about $23 billions of Chinese
investment mostly into oil output and manufacturing industry.
The big common projects launched the last 5 years including expansion of oil
and gas pipelines between the countries, a creation of Europe-China highway
which is running across Kazakhstan’s 3 000 km. territory, free trade zone at the
new border crossing of Khorgos.
The origins of successful cooperation began in 1991 when President Nazarbayev
and Chairman Jiang Zemin affirmed borders of independent Kazakhstan. They
both spoke Russian fluently and understood each other as both were
acquainted with Soviet political system. Mr. Zemin finally said: “We must settle
these border issues now, while we are both in charge. One day in the future a
new generation may come to lead China who I am not so sure will be so eager
to reach an agreement”. Shortly afterwards the territorial issues were solved
which gave 53% of the contested regions to Kazakhstan and 47% to China.
OSCE as a big diplomatic effort of Kazakhstan
Astana – is a centre of holding international events
Drawing international investments
Kazakhstan – member of UN, OIC (Organization of Islamic
Cooperation), TURKSOI (International organization of Turkic culture)
A position of negotiator of international conflicts
It’s urgent demand for modern Kazakhstan to build up strong partnership relationships with
Western world including Europe and USA. That was why Kazakhstan diplomats and the
President himself did their best to promote its new capital Astana in international
The one of the biggest Kazakhstani diplomatic efforts was holding OSCE (Organization for
security and co-operation in Europe) summit in 2010. The idea of Kazakhstan chairmanship
sounded by President Nazarbayev was met with confrontation in high political circles
especially by American administration. However, Nazarbayev began to lobby his proposal
visiting all the leaders of states-members of organization and influenced them to accept the
chairmanship of Kazakhstan arguing that the world was changing in the XXI century and it
was time to trust an Eurasian and Asian nation with presidency. In 2006 Nazarbayev met with
George W Bush and personally questioned him why America was so against of Kazakhstan
taking chairmanship. This question was unexpected and President of America had to reply
that the question would be reconsidered. After several rounds of diplomatic debates
Kazakhstan eventually took chairmanship in 2010 and held summit in Astana.
Apart from holding OSCE summit which was visited by first political figures from Europe and
USA, Astana hosted 7th Asian winter games with participants from 26 Asian countries, World
Islamic Economic Forum with participants from 55 Islamic states, Shanghai Cooperation Council
and International forum for a nuclear weapons-free world. All these events brought wide
opportunities to Kazakhstan and its capital to be recognizable in the world and also to draw
investments in its economics.
For instance, this month President Nazarbayev visited UK where he met with the Royal family,
Prime Minister David Cameron and representatives of English business elite and afterwards
visited France where he met with François Hollande and representatives of business elite. These
personal meetings brought more than $5 billion of investments into state economics.
Kazakhstan position in international relations is to encourage all the confronting countries to
establish a dialogue in finding solution. Kazakhstan is one of those few countries who has
friendly relationships with all countries in the world.
Recently, presenting his speech in UN General Assembly in New-York on 29th of September,
2015 President Nazarbayev underlined a huge role of negotiations in international conflicts on
example of Ukrainian crisis and asked of full implement of Minsk agreements. He also told
about creating zones free of nuclear weapons particularly in the Middle East.
As Kazakhstan aspires to find its niche in international world it is a priority
of the country to bring up a new generation of specialists fluently
speaking in English. This was a reason why a presidential scholarship
called “Bolashak” (literal translation is Future) were established in 1993.
The scholarship gives opportunity to Kazakhstani university graduates to
study further abroad and covers all the tuition fees and living expenses of
scholarship’s holders. After getting education students should return to
Kazakhstan and work there for minimum 5 years. During 21 years more
than 11 thousands people have been getting education abroad mostly
preferring UK and USA as their study destinations. This programme is
changing a situation in language policy of country whose people fluently
speak 2 languages – Kazakh and Russian, and younger ambitious
generation speaks English as well. The programme also gives opportunity
to Kazakhstani people to integrate deeply with global community.
Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary under Secretary of
State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office:
“Both commercially and politically, the Kazakhstan of
today is on the verge of becoming a significant
player on the regional and international stage”.