• KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

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Focus on Ethnic Germans in Kazakhstan

On 21 May, Astana hosted the 20th meeting of the Kazakh-German Intergovernmental Commission for the Affairs of Ethnic Germans in Kazakhstan, co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko and Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Matters Related to Ethnic German Resettlers and National Minorities, Member of the Bundestag, Natalie Pawlik. Representatives of the two countries’ ministries and organizations, including the Wiedergeburt (Rebirth) foundation also participated. The agenda focused on cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany to support the cultural, linguistic, and national identity of Kazakh Germans, as well as the implementation of joint projects in science, education, and culture. The parties reiterated their mutual interest in expanding partnerships within the framework of the Intergovernmental Commission and strengthening the “living bridge” connecting Kazakhstan and Germany. During World War II, Stalin's henchman, Lavrentiy Beria supervized the mass deportation of the Volga Germans, Chechens, Ingush, Pontic Greeks, Crimean Tatars, Balkars and the Karachays, largely to Central Asia. With the crowded wagons stopping only to bury the dead in the snow, approximately 30% perished. According to statistics, 226,000 ethnic Germans reside in Kazakhstan, today, whilst some one million Germans have moved from Kazakhstan to their ancestral homeland. Emphasizing the importance of Kazakhstan’s multi-ethnic population in the successful development of the country, Vassilenko stated that: “Thousands of kilometers separating our countries do not hinder the development and deepening of Kazakh-German relations, as well as the promotion of rapprochement of our peoples. By virtue of history, Kazakhstan has a large German diaspora, while many former citizens of Kazakhstan have resettled in Germany.” Ethnic Germans are represented in all spheres of life in Kazakhstan. The Kazakh-German Center in Astana, the Kazakh-German University in Almaty, the Kazakh-German Institute of Sustainable Engineering in Aktau, the German Drama Theatre, as well as the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper play significant roles in strengthening cultural and humanitarian interaction between Kazakhstan and Germany. Natalie Pawlik welcomed the dynamically developing bilateral cooperation and emphasized that Germany regards Kazakhstan as a key partner in its relations with Central Asia. In her commendation of assistance provided by the German Federal Government to the Germans of Kazakhstan, she mentioned that the study of the German language in Kazakhstan can not only contribute to the preservation of the ethnic Germans’ national identity but prove beneficial to professionals engaging in joint investment projects.    

Divisive Forces Prompt Tokayev’s “National Unity” Message

At the 32nd session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev promoted peace and harmony as the state ideology and impressed on “national unity” by referring to all citizens of his country as Kazakhs regardless of their ethnic, linguistic or religious affiliation. “Society should not be divided on these grounds”, Tokayev said. Kazakhstan, a predominantly Muslim nation where Christians make up nearly 25% of the population, constitutes a genuine melting pot housing 131 different ethnicities. Such diversity can positively fuel innovation by merging different perspectives and create complex problem-solving methods. But it can also turn into a vulnerability when differences are manipulated to divide communities to gain political advantage. The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan was established in 1995 to mitigate such risks and foster social harmony in the country.   Forces of division The President's latest statements draw attention to what the country perceives as threats to its national unity, which also reverberate elsewhere in the world, including corruption, malign foreign influence, and disinformation. It is difficult to ascertain whether foreign-backed political activities are genuinely aimed at enhancing the human condition in a country or are instead trying to undermine the state's stability to advance the agendas of other states or individuals. Worryingly for Kazakhstan, a survey of whom many of the well-known political activists are affiliated with shows that they have not grown organically from the country’s civil society ecosystem. Instead, they are often funded by foreign states, NGOs and/or oligarchs. This represents a complex scenario that should alarm true defenders of democracy and human rights. Firstly, the entrenched oligarchy formed under former President Nazarbayev’s thirty-year reign presents a challenge to the current leadership’s efforts to tackle corruption, kleptocracy and disinformation. These powerful business elites, who largely control the economy and media, resist any efforts to curtail their reach and influence. The government’s anti-corruption initiatives and asset recovery efforts are seen as direct threats to their wealth and dominance. Secondly, foreign actors see Kazakhstan’s strategic value in the renewed Cold War between Russia and the West. While Kazakhstan’s official and clear position has been one of neutrality, foreign-backed grassroots movements and misinformation campaigns have aimed to move society to take one side or another in this somewhat bipolar battle. The convergence of these domestic and international pressures forms a formidable challenge that threatens to compromise Kazakhstan's sovereignty and the welfare of its citizens. The oligarchs, mainly fearing repatriation of their assets hidden abroad through the recovery efforts of the country’s new leadership, could be inclined to support state-led polarization efforts to weaken the government, thus further intensifying the threat to Kazakhstan's peace and stability.   The evolution of the Kazakh ideology The development of Kazakhstan's national identity has been in the works since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and has intensified as the country became a focal point for foreign powers seeking influence in 2022. This broader statehood identity celebrates Kazakhstan's history and diversity. President Tokayev appears to be leading...

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