Tuesday, October 03, 2006

President Nazarbayev says Kazakhs are Europeans, not Asians….

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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.

3 Comments:

Anonymous nomad said...

Kazakhs possess both European and Asian mentalities. They were on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road from Asia (China) to Europe. More Eurasians. Almost were under the threat to become Russians.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Sean R. Roberts, PhD said...

Nomad,

I agree. Kazakhs defy the racial concepts of Asian and Europeans, concepts which are themselves completely flawed. The interesting part is that the terms "European" and "Asian" are valued ladden. When Nazarbayev says that the "Kazakhs are Europeans," I think he means to say they are "not backwards" because in Moscow there is a general idea that "Aziaty" ("Asians") are backwards and not as civilized as "Europeans." In the U.S., the label "Asian" carries different connotations, but "European" is still the concept most often used to reflect "civilization."

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Teymur said...

Yes, but President used to say that Kazakhs were Asian and had an Asian mentality. Look at all the language he used in pushing CICA. I think he uses special terms for special audiences.

4:17 PM  

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