#Kazakhstan: A model of inter-ethnic tolerance and social harmony

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With the turmoil in the former Soviet Union and Middle East, the West is searching for countries of stability in embattled regions and allies to fight Islamist extremism.  One leading candidate, Kazakhstan, will become a UN Security Council non-permanent member on January 1 2017. This is a good opportunity to strengthen the relations between the international community and Astana, writes Colin Stevens.

Kazakhstan is a country that only gained independence on 16 December 1991 but as a friend and strategic partner, it’s come a long way fast. As with other countries of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan inherited a unique system for managing the needs of ethnic minorities.

The question, though, was how these countries utilized Soviet constructs to develop policies suitable for their distinct political contexts. In Kazakhstan’s case its leaders chose to fashion a multi-ethnic civic nation and established the “Assembly of People of Kazakhstan” to oversee the work of creating a uniform national identity.

Kazakhstan is particularly multi-ethnic. According to official statistics, 59.2% of the population is Kazakh, 29.6 per cent is Russian, while 10.2% comprises Germans, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbek and Uyghurs. Representatives of more than 140 ethnic groups live in Kazakhstan and some 818 ethnic and cultural associations operate under the auspices of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan. All ethnic groups have a single civil and social status.

Their representatives are not considered as national minorities but enjoy the full rights of the citizens of the single nation of Kazakhstan.

Few states are as deeply rooted and as vitally interested in peace as Kazakhstan, with the country becoming a member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018, The chief criterion for Security Council membership is a state’s contribution to the maintenance of peace and, here, Kazakhstan gets highest ranks.

As a new member of the Security Council, many, including Stephen Blank, of the American Foreign Policy Council, have commended Kazakhstan’s inclusiveness and willingness to promote mediation as it offered to do in the 5+1 talks with Iran.

He believes its policies geared towards social harmony demonstrates Kazakhstan’s conviction and willingness to act in world affairs in ways that champion both regional and international security and stability. ““Kazakhstan deserves to be rewarded and encouraged not least because it can serve as a model for other current and future members of the Security Council to emulate,” he said.

Kazakhstan is in the heart of Eurasia, at the crossroads of the Silk Road and at the intersection of Eastern and Western civilizations. In addition, the mentality of Kazakhs has been formed in the interaction of Western and Eastern civilizations.

Read full story at eureporter