Vinokurov E. (2010) The Evolution of Kazakhstan’s Position on Relations with Russia in 1991-2010. March. MPRA Working Paper no. 22187.
2009-2010 are marked by a major breakthrough, namely the establishment and operationalisation of the Russia-Kazakhstan-Belarus (RuKaBe) Customs Union as well as the stated goal to move forward the Single Economic Area (SEA) by 2012. Russian-Kazakhstani relations shape the regional integration in the post-Soviet space. As Kazakhstan played and continues to play the crucial role in the regional integration processes in the former Soviet Union (FSU), its position and foreign policy on these issues demand explanation and interpretation. The paper is focused on the official Kazakhstani position towards Russia and its development over 1991-2000, i.e. the two post-Soviet decades. We draw upon speeches by the representatives of the state, most importantly by Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the intergovernmental acts. This approach implies the paper’s limitation. Namely, the actual foreign policy is rather characterised by inferences based on policies (revealed preferences), not the rhetoric. Still, we think that our approach is suitable for the narrowly defined goal of the paper – understanding and interpreting the evolution of the official position. In this paper, sovereignty is understood in a functional sense, i.e., as a complex, multitiered system of authority. The people (or a state) is able to transfer any part of its sovereignty to supranational bodies at its discretion, yet remain a sovereign state. For example, in the EU, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, supranational bodies are vested with certain sovereign powers, which they need to perform their functions, but no more than that. It is important in the context of this paper that, unlike many Russian politicians, Nazarbayev is a consistent proponent of this concept of sovereignty. The paper is organised as follows. After brief review of the context in which Kazakhstan developed its stance on its relations with Russia in particular and regional integration in general (Section 2), we move to the substantive analysis and structurisation of the evolution of the Kazakhstani official position towards relations with Russia in Section 3. The fourth section provides various aspects of interpretation of this process, as we set the rhetoric against the economic cycles and exogenous events. Finally, the fifth section concludes.