Kazakhstan’s EU Policies: A Critical Review of Underlying Motives and Enabling Factors

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The article delves into Kazakhstan’s policies vis-à-vis the European Union, focusing on their driving motives and enabling conditions. Drawing upon published papers and, to a lesser degree, primary sources, the author argues that friendship with the EU largely serves the Kazakhstani elite as means of economic modernisation as well regime legitimation, perfectly fitting Kazakhstan’s dominant domestic discourse which portrays the country as Eurasian and its foreign policy—as multi-vector. The study also shows that Astana’s partnership with Brussels is to a large degree possible because the EU holds a simultaneous positive attitude to such partnership regardless Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime. According to the article, such reflects the great instrumental value collaboration with Astana gives Brussels, the EU’s general inactivity on democracy promotion in Central Asia and Kazakhstan’s looking more pro-European and economically/politically advanced against the background of its post-Soviet and Central Asian autocratic fellows. The paper concludes by reflecting on the configuration of pragmatism and identity in Astana’s approach to the EU and discussing the peculiarities of the bloc’s power over Kazakhstan.
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First archival date: 2018-02-13
Latest version: 2 (2018-04-05)
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