President Nazarbayev says Kazakhs are Europeans, not Asians….
Picture of Presidents Bush and Nazarbayev from “Express K” newspaper
For those who have not yet been able to view this week’s “John Mclaughlin’s One on One,” Democratic Representative from California Brad Sherman, who was a call-in guest along with myself on the show, stated that Kazakhstan should not be held accountable to the standards of Europe concerning democracy given that the country is not in Europe. While Representative Sherman intended his statement to be in defense of Kazakhstan, I think he, and many in the U.S. government, may be misreading the country and its president. Kazakhstani citizens, and particularly its President Nursultan Nazarbayev, do not view their homeland as a developing “third world” country, and they shouldn’t. It is a country with great potential, and there is little reason that Kazakhstan should not be held to the standards of European states, at least those who are also transitioning from communism. This seemed to be the message that President Nazarbayev himself was sending in a recent interview with the BBC, when he noted bluntly that “Kazakhs are Europeans, not Asians; we were raised as such.” Nazarbayev was using these words because he feels that Kazakhstan deserves the respect of the west, including support for the country’s bid to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In many ways, it seems that Kazakhstan is ready to be held accountable to the same standards of Europe (albeit gradually), the question is whether the U.S. is ready or even able to engage them on these goals.