When President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed drawing up a doctrine to promote national unity, he probably did not expect that he would lift the lid on inter-ethnic tension in Kazakhstan. But that is exactly what happened.
Nazarbayev has often expressed pride in the fact that Kazakhstan is a multi-cultural country that has been able to maintain a high degree of inter-ethnic harmony. [For background see the EurasiaNet archive]. In 2009, the president sought to institutionalize what his administration had long been practicing, and he called on the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK), an umbrella body whose members are presidential appointees representing the interests of Kazakhstan’s various ethnic groups, to develop a National Unity Doctrine.
Presented to Nazarbayev last October, the AKP-produced doctrine envisioned Kazakhstan becoming a multicultural melting pot in which every citizen was first and foremost a "Kazakhstani." It was aimed at "consolidating political stability, unity, and accord," Nazarbayev said.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.