Central Asia   KAZAKHSTAN


Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev

by Choung-ho Jason Lee


Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev is one of the representative Kazakh political leaders.  The reason why I chose him to write about is he played an important role as Kazakhstan became independent in 1991.  He has shown a strong commitment to reform the Kazakh economy.  His efforts are making Kazakhstan attractive for foreign investments.  He became president of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) in 1990 and continuously of the independent republic of Kazakhstan after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991.

 Nazarbayev was born into a peasant family in Chemolgan in July 6, 1940.  He was educated at the Qaraghandy Metallurgical Combine in Kazakhstan and at the Higher Party School of the Central committee of the Soviet Communist party in Moscow.  He became a Communist party member in 1962. (NEXIS)

Nazarbayev worked at numerous positions as he went up the political ladder of the Communist party.  He began as a steelworker at the Qaraghandy Metallurgical Combine under the Soviet regime.  He later became an economist and rose in the ranks of the Kazakh Communist Party. For example, he was the secretary of the party committee at the Qaraghandy Metallurgical Combine, secretary of the Temirtau City Committee, and first secretary of the Qaraghandy District Committee of the Kazakh Communist party.  He served as chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR from 1984 to 1989, and was elected president of Soviet Kazakhstan in 1990 and continued in that post when the republic succeeded to achieve independence (the independent republic of Kazakhstan) in 1991. (Groiler Encyclopedia)

After the break-up of the USSR, Nazarbayev directed the Kazakh economy. He hired Bang, Chan Young, a Korean American professor of economics, as an adviser in order to learn the market economy from the West.  As an effort to improve the economy of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev proposed  a free economic zone along the entire border between China and Kazakhstan, when he visited Beijing in 1992.  He also authorized several western companies  to explore and extract fossil fuels in Kazakhstan by signing a 40-year agreement with American oil company Chevron Corporation that allowed the  formation of the joint venture corporation Tengizchevroil in 1993. (Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia)

Nazarbayev put a lot of efforts into expanding the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to include more former Soviet republics.  He also promoted the economic relationship with other former Soviet republics of Central Asia.  He invited a summit of Central Asian leaders in 1990, before the disintegration of USSR for the goal of having closer economic ties.  Several other Central Asian leaders followed, for example a much-publicized summit in Toshkent, Uzbekistan in 1993.  In this event, he claimed that all preconditions for a Central Asian common market had been established.  In March 1994 he issued a decree creating a free trade zone with neighboring Uzbekistan. (Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia)

Nazarbayev readily agreed on limiting his control over nuclear weapons based in his republic.  He supported the negotiations of president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin with American officials on the issue of reducing nuclear arms in 1992.  After signing the treaty of friendship with Russia, which guaranteed the inviolability of Kazakhstan's borders, he agreed to remove all nuclear weapons from Kazakhstan.  Later, in March 1994 he agreed to lease the Baikonur Space Complex to Russia for 20 years for $115 million annually as an effect of the treaty with Russia.  He also ordered the closure of the nuclear test site near Semey (formerly Semiplatinsk).  In 1993, for another action taken by him was to decree the creation of a Kazakh navy with the Caspian Sea as its zone of operation.  In February 1994, Nazarbayev went to Washington D.C. and signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and other documents.  He proposed that several CIS states form a Eurasian Union that would more closely integrate the countries' economies in March 1994.  (Keylor, pg 138)

Nazarbayev is from peasant family.  He also began as a steelworker.  But now he emerged as the most prominent leader of the former Soviet Central Asian republics.  I just want to give a lot of credits to him for his job on cultivating ties with the West while keeping close relations with Boris Yeltsin's Russia at the same time.  His efforts on the world peace by the reduction of nuclear weapon and on trying to improve the economy of the republic will be remembered as his great performances as a political leader of Kazakhstan.


1. Keylor, William R.  "The Twentieth Century World"; Oxford University Press, N.Y.  1996

2. The Encyclopedia, the Groiler Publishing Inc. 1995

3. The Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia  1995   

4. Nexis         



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