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A Vision for the Future from Kazakhstan

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Message Come Carpentier de Gourdon









Before he became President of a newly independent Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev was  chairman of the Kazakh Supreme Soviet in the last days of the USSR. Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev had tapped him to be the Prime Minister of the reformed Federation he was trying to set up when the August 1991 Coup took place and, by default, brought to power in Moscow Boris Yeltsin who, with the blessings of the West, hurriedly proceeded to disband the Soviet Union, thereby hatching with one blow fifteen sovereign nations.


Among all those new countries, Kazakhstan can be, even with some reservations, regarded as the greatest success story and much of that relatively peaceful transition out of the post-Soviet quagmire can be credited to Nazarbayev who always acted with the conviction that independence was not an end in itself and had to be utilized to build prosperity, both in his nation and in the wider region. From the early nineteen nineties he consistently championed the reorganization of the common former Soviet space through such vehicles as the CIS, the CSTO and the EURASEC while proposing at the same time a common currency and economic community for all Central Asian states, including Iran.


Eurasian interdependence and solidarity were not empty words in his vocabulary and his view was especially valuable in view of the fact that it could not be attributed to Russian or Pan-Slavic chauvinism. Nazarbayev defines himself as a proud descendent of the nomadic rulers of the vast steppes who on various occasions in the last three thousand years unified much of the Eurasian continent under their various historical avatars, such as the Scythians or Sakas, the Turks and the Mongols, all members of the loose commonwealth of horse riding herdsmen and warriors who held sway from the Caspian to Manchuria and from Southern Siberia to Northern Afghanistan. Nazarbayev draws much of his supra-nationalist inspiration from the late Professor Lev Gumilev (the son of Anna Akhmatova) after whom he has named the new university in Astana. Gumilev, who enjoys a wide following in the Russian and Central Asian academic community, believed that Russians were related, within the Eurasian "superethnos", to the Turko-Mongols and other peoples of the steppes and that the Tzar's empire was a successor of the earlier Scythian and Genghiskhanid continental states.


Kazakhstan , territorially the largest of the Central Asian States occupies the core of the Eurasian mass which Halford Mackinder defined as the heartland. As such it is the cradle of the founders of the Khazar, Seljukid, Ottoman, Mughal, Qajar Persian and other empires and it separates or connects, depending upon our perspective, China and Iran, Russia and South Asia. Like the empire of the Kushans in the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD, Kazakhstan is deeply influenced by all those neighbouring cultures and it is Nazarbayev's vision not to artificially homogenize his young nation state by ignoring or understating those "foreign elements" but rather to highlight them in the process of building a synthesis conceived as a union without assimilation. The new capital built by his decision illustrates that syncretistic spirit through clear allusions to the various architectural styles of the civilizations which have shaped modern Kazakhstan: Astana, in its contemporary, often futuristic architecture, deploys facades, spires and prospekts reminiscent of Romanov and Stalinist Moscow and Saint Petersburg alongside Chinese pagodas, Turkish domes, Mongol Yurts, Egyptian pyramids and Arab minarets.


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Come Carpentier is a French writer, traveller, editor, consultant and researcher born in the Canary Islands, who lives and works in India and in Europe (France, Italy.Switzerland), helping manage a private foundation and contributing to various (more...)
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