This year marks the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence. During this period, the country has undergone transformations in all spheres of life.
One of the most significant achievements of the country is the policy in the field of interethnic relations, laid down by First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. The ethno-confessional policy of the country is of particular importance in the context of polyethnicity and the confessional heterogeneity of Kazakh society.
According to the Kazakh Committee on Statistics, at the beginning of January 2020, Kazakhs accounted for 68.5 percent and other ethnic groups for 31.5 percent of the population. In this context, the preservation of interethnic harmony and the formation of civil identity are basic conditions essential for the country.
The key ideas of ethnopolitics were formulated at the dawn of independence of Kazakhstan in May 1993 by Nazarbayev. They are based on the preservation of interethnic harmony, ethnic diversity, equality of citizens regardless of ethnic affiliation as well as instruction in proper patriotism. It was emphasized that patriotic education implies the formation of a clear self-determination and self-identification for each citizen.
In the article “Plan of the Nation – The Path to the Kazakh Dream” published in 2016, Nazarbayev reiterated that our path is a path of unity and consistent formation of a nation based on a civic identity. Nazarbayev said: “Our aim is to strengthen the common identity and unity of our country via development of Kazakhstan’s society on the principles of united citizenship and the national values incorporated in the Mangilik El (Eternal Nation) on the basis of consolidating our achievements since obtaining independence.”
Thus, the most important element of Kazakhstan’s policy in the field of interethnic relations is unity through diversity. Moreover, Nazarbayev emphasized that “100 Kazakh ethnic groups have at least 100 special and unique features, which give a unique advantage to our united nation.”
A unique institution, the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK), is also called upon to support and promote interethnic harmony. Today, the importance of the APK’s activities is also increasing due to the growing importance of the regulation of interethnic and interfaith relations in the modern world.
“Tension and xenophobia are growing everywhere. Noticing the seeds of extremism and suppressing them inside Kazakhstan is our task,” said Nazarbayev.
The Bolashak (Future), the international educational program, which was launched by Nazarbayev at the dawn of independence in 1993, is also one of the other significant achievements. Over the past period, about 15,000 young Kazakhs have received education in the world’s leading universities. The first graduation at Nazarbayev University took place five years ago. Over the years, the university has already trained about 5,000 graduates. Undoubtedly, these programs can be viewed as real and effective social elevators that enabled the country’s young citizens to realize their potential.
At the same time, education today is a top priority in all developed countries of the world. Ensuring the quality and accessibility of education has always been among the strategic objectives of Kazakhstan. Thus, in 2018, Nazarbayev instructed the government to increase spending on education, science, and healthcare until it reached 10 percent of GDP.
In the context of the country’s achievements, one can note the steps towards the development of new, advanced technologies, including the development of digitalal government reforms, which follow the general world trend as well.
In the field of foreign policy, Kazakhstan has also achieved outstanding success. It should be noted that the country from its very beginning has followed a constructive policy, based on the multi-vector principle, which became the key to fostering a successful dialogue with neighbors at such forums as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and other forums.
At the same time, one of the key achievements in the field of foreign policy is the integration of Kazakhstan into international processes, the country’s entry into major international associations, as well as the fact that Kazakhstan is now the recognized locomotive of regional integration in Eurasia.
The author is Aiman Zhussupova, an expert of the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP) under the Nursultan Nazarbayev Foundation.