Kazakhstan presidential address signals concern about the economy, stability

The good folks at Christian Science Monitor's Monitoring Global Outlook spoke with me about the repercussions of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev's announcement of new economic policies - and comments on ethnic relations:

MGO: Why did President Nazarbayev address the nation now?

That was unexpected. We knew that there was going to be an announcement of some kind of revamp of a countercyclical nature. But [officials] did not say that it was going to be coming in this speech of President Nazarbayev, so it was near as I can tell unexpected both in the length and the breadth of the discussion.

The part that interested me was a section focusing on inter-ethnic harmony. To see it paired with the financial recommendations and projects that he announced, it seems very obvious that he understands the linkage between the two. As the underpinnings of the Kazakh economic model struggle, there is a realization that these two are inextricably linked and something needs to be done.

One person whose opinion I respect on the region greatly was so taken aback by the timing and the content of President Nazarbayev’s speech yesterday he asked, “Is [the president’s] health all of the sudden that much stronger of a consideration than it was before?” That’s always the dark horse, that’s always the elephant in the room, he’s 74 years old now.