In the early 1990s, Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined the key ideas of a new policy in the field of nation-building – the preservation of interethnic harmony, ethnic diversity, and the equality of citizens regardless of ethnic and religious affiliations.
In 2020, Nazarbayev reaffirmed his adherence to the principle of unity in diversity: “Peace, harmony and unity remain the key priorities of state policy. This is a principled position in the field of interethnic relations, and it will not change,” he said.
To strengthen and support interethnic harmony in the country, the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK), a unique institution of civil society, uniting representatives of 130 ethnic groups, was created in 1995. Since 2007, the APK has the right to delegate nine of its representatives to the Majilis (a lower house) of the Kazakh Parliament.
Today, the authority of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan is recognized at the international level, the experience of Kazakhstan in the field of the policy of interethnic peace and harmony is of real interest to many countries, in some of which similar structures are already being created.
It should be noted that today the country’s policy in the field of interethnic relations is recognized by the international community. Organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) invariably give high marks to our model of interethnic relations and efforts to strengthen the unity of the nation.
At the same time, the preservation of interethnic harmony is a basic condition for development for any multi-ethnic country. In Kazakhstan, according to the Committee on Statistics of Kazakhstan, at the beginning of January 2020, Kazakhs accounted for 68.5 percent, other ethnic groups – 31.5 percent of the population.
As Nazarbayev noted: “One third of the population of our country are representatives of various ethnic groups. Everyone knows their contribution to the achievements of Kazakhstan, and we must build up this potential. This is especially true of the compact areas of residence of ethnic groups. On the one hand, all the necessary conditions have been created there for the preservation and development of the traditions, languages, and cultures of these ethnic groups. On the other hand, on this basis, we need to cultivate open, non-isolated communities in their cultural, linguistic and socio-economic niches.”
The policy in the field of interethnic relations is being continued and developed in the activities of the country’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
“We will continue the policy of strengthening peace and harmony in our society, and the values of mutual respect and equality for all citizens,” said Tokayev. In this light, the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan plays an important role.
Kazakhstan managed not only to preserve, but also significantly strengthen the socio-political stability in the country. In the conditions of a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional Kazakhstan, this policy became a guarantee of civil peace, which is the basic condition for the successful development of any state.
The author is Aiman Zhussupova, an expert of the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP) under the Nursultan Nazarbayev Foundation.