Casting an anxious eye on events in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan is carrying out a fresh drive to promote ethnic harmony. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who prides himself on presiding over an era of ethnic accord in multicultural Kazakhstan, is leading the campaign.
Nazarbayev’s administration is busy framing the country’s diversity as a uniting factor. While Kazakhstan is not seen as being susceptible to the kind of violence
that left hundreds dead and displaced hundreds of thousands in southern Kyrgyzstan in June, Nazarbayev appears intent on leaving nothing to chance.
“The principle of ‘unity in diversity’ has been placed at the foundation of state policy in the interethnic sphere,” Nazarbayev told a session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK), a grouping of representatives of Kazakhstan’s 130 ethnic groups used as a vehicle to implement state policy on ethnic issues on October 20.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.