Kazakhstan's Need to Construct Its National Identity and Foreign Policy after Getting Its Independence – Term Paper Example

Constructing National Identity: Kazakhstan After Soviet Union collapsed, several new countries were formed as independent nations. All these nationsprepared themselves to enjoy their diversities in various ways. For years these nations have been surviving under the authoritative rule of Moscow. With the newly found independence, these nations grabbed the opportunity to uplift their own distinct heritages and portray their uniqueness to the world. This paper focuses on the struggle that Kazakhstan is facing to maintain its national identity.
With the newly gained independence of Kazakhstan, there came the urgent need of defining their national identity and also to formulate a foreign policy of independent nature to protect their identity in the international arena. Kazakhstan is a nation having population of various ethnicities because during Russian rule, many people of different ethnicities were exiled to this region. This makes the task of defining a distinct national identity a difficult one (Laciner, et al 531).
The leaders of Kazakhstan instantly emphasised two possible policies that would help them shape up the national identity of their nation. The policies were language policy and migration policy. The consequences of these policies had a major impact on the relationship of Kazakhstan with Russian and also on formulating a distinct national identity. The authorities emphasised on an ethnic-based approach to build their nation and this approach was used in making the language policy (Abiyeva & Korneev, 1-2). Implementing a monolingual policy of establishing “Kazakh as the state language” was a difficult approach because Kazakhstan has long been a multinational state and majority people of the nation spoke Russian as their native language. This forced the government to implement a “multilingual policy” to preserve Russian and various other languages. There was another reason behind this policy. English was rapidly becoming a common language in Kazakhstan and also the government strived to maintain a strong competitive hold in the economy of the world. The current language policy was adopted after taking interviews of people in different professions. Their general opinion about the language Kazakh was taken into account. Kazakh was made the only state language to emphasize the newly acquired independence of the nation. The most important purpose of the language policy was to upgrade their native language and give it a national identity. Kazakh language was incorporated in important government and education sectors and also in the mass media (Pavlenko 174-175).
Kazakhstan is a nation which has abundance of natural resources. It has large reserves of oil and natural gas along with other minerals like gold, copper and chrome. In the post independence era, these resources were not utilized properly. This was because there was vast ethnic difference between the Russians and Kazakhs and poor economic structure. In the first half of the 1990s, there was mass immigration which resulted in decline of the nation’s economy and lack of foreign capital slowed down the development of oil and mineral sectors. During this period, the government was mostly occupied in the task of nation building and economic policies were made to maintain strong economic ties with Russia. In the mid 1990s, government began to focus on the development of oil sector. Outside the boundaries of Kazakhstan, the nation was viewed as a corrupt state which resulted in fall of oil prices. This was a major blow to the economy of the nation. Kazakhstan faced growth in economy in the early twenty-first century. During this time oil prices began to rise significantly (Pomfret 40-41). In 2006, Kazakhstan formed a fund for development to make proper use of all revenues earned from oil and other natural resources. The objective was to sustain stability in the economic sector and an all around development of the country (Laciner et al, 532). In 2011, President Nursultan Nazarbaev declared emergency in Zhanozen, which is a town in westen Kazakhstan and has the major reservoirs of oil. The emergency was declared after there were clashes between the workers in oil factories and the police. The workers were in the middle of a strike. The clash was followed by the death of 16 people. Extra forces were supplied for security purposes in the town. On January 31, 2012, the emergency was lifted by the President and normal situation was restored (“State of Emergency lifted in Kazakh Oil Town”).
Recently in Washington, President Nursultan Nazarbaev was praised for his talent for “statecraft”. He has built the nation successfully in every dimension (Kazakhstan: Astana Faces Emboldened Opposition”). Kazakhstan shares a very delicate political relation with Russia and so the former must be careful not to build its own identity at the expense of losing a good neighbourhood.


Abiyeva, Karlygash & Oleg Korneev, “Kazakhstan facing Russia: compromising national identity, language and migration policies”, wiscnetwork, n.d., 15th February, 2012 from: www.wiscnetwork.org/porto2011/getpaper.php?id=635
Laciner, Sedat, Ozcan, Mehmet & Ihsan Bal. USAK Yearbook of International Politics and Law: Vol.1, Turkey: USAK Books, 2008
Pavlenko, Aneta. Multilingualism in Post-Soviet Countries, Britain: Multilingual Matters, 2008
Pomfret, Richard. The Central Asian Economies Since Independence, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006
RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, “State of Emergency lifted in Kazakh Oil Town”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, 31st January, 2012, 15th February, 2012 from: http://www.rferl.org/content/kazakhstan_state_of_emergency_lifted_zhanaozen/24468554.html
Lillis, Joanna, “Kazakhstan: Astana Faces Emboldened Opposition”, Eurasianet, 14th February, 2012, 15th February, 2012 from: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65002