Independent Kazakhstan and the 'black box' of decision-making : understanding Kazakhstan's foreign policy in the early independence period (1991-4)
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This thesis presents a foreign policy decision-making analysis of Kazakhstan’s foreign relations in the initial post-independence period. The study applies a neoclassical realist theoretical framework in order to provide the understanding of Kazakhstan’s external behaviour. The thesis conceptually assumes that the integration of the presidential decision-making element in the analysis of the republic’s foreign policy is essential to account for Kazakhstan’s foreign strategies, which would otherwise appear to be anomalous from the deterministic perspective of the structural theories of international relations. The set objective of the work is to produce a theoretically informed historical narratives of Almaty’s policymaking during three episodes in the republic’s diplomatic history – the elaboration of a distinct balancing strategy; the relinquishment of the nuclear arsenal; and the Nagorno-Karabakh peace mission. The reconstruction of events behind the decisions made by president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his key advisors through the assessment of primary materials sourced from the archives of Kazakhstani foreign policy demonstrates that foreign decision-making process played a crucial role in the identification of national interests and development of appropriate policy responses in each of the episodes under examination. Chapter IV illustrates how the nation’s policymakers developed a unique balancing strategy to ascertain the country’s sovereignty and eliminate security risks under overwhelming geopolitical pressures that emanated from Russia and China. Chapter V discusses the episode when Nazarbayev was subjected to direct international pressure to surrender the inherited Soviet nuclear arsenal on the terms imposed by the USA, in response to which Nazarbayev devised a deliberately ambivalent and protracted strategy in regard to the republic’s nuclear status. Chapter VI reveals the adaptability of the republic’s policymaking to the changing international context as the regression of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace initiative demonstrates. The exposition of intricate policy planning and profound diplomatic endeavours reflected in archival documents reinforces the thesis’s premise about the non-deterministic nature of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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