Who’s to Blame for Ethnic Conflicts in Central Asia: Stalin’s Legacy or Discriminative Nationalisms?


Interethnic Relations and Peace-Building in Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 18 April 2014, pp.1

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Bishkek
  • Country: Kyrgyzstan
  • Page Numbers: pp.1
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


WHO’S TO BLAME FOR ETHNIC CONFLICTS IN CENTRAL ASIA: STALIN’S LEGACY OR DISCRIMINATIVE NATIONALISMS? Assc. Prof. Dr. Hakan Güneş Istanbul University / Faculty of Political Sciences/ International Relations Department ABSTRACT In this paper/presentation it is aimed at explaining the historical and contemporary factors behind the ethnic conflicts in Central Asia. Researches on the conflicts either focus on the role of Stalin’s delimitation and its effect on today’s disagreements or authoritarian governments discriminative nationalistic policies. A further understanding of the discontent and the conflict in the region however, requires a comprehensive approach in which conflicting attitudes of the parties evaluated in an actual context. So the question to be answered is as follows: What are the contemporary contexts that transform the historical factors into an actual violent conflict? The national delimitation in Soviet Central Asia in early 1920’s and further re-arrangements within Soviet nationality policies constituted the legal framework for the very existence and modern boundaries of the post-soviet Central Asian republics. The legitimacy of state borders in Central Asia relies on agreements within the RSFSR and Soviet Union’s constitutions. However both during and after the delimitation, Stalin and the Moscow criticized for implementing imperial “divide-and-rule” and “unite-and-rule” policies. Soviets didn’t applied their socialist self-determination and federalism principles in a coherent framework. Even the imperial division of Central Asia under Tsar was much more coherent with the historical existence/realities of the region than the Soviet delimitation. In brief, Soviet nationality policy created a base for future conflicts. On the other hand, post soviet central Asian government’s understanding of “new” nationalisms, generally created “discriminative” conditions for the minorities in each nation-state. The new history textbooks excluded the histories of the minorities on the titular nation’s state territory. Public career jobs in military, police, judiciary and administrative bodies and state funds usually allocated to the people from titular nation. Minorities underrepresented in local and central governments. More importantly the new state ideology and ideologies of the ruling parties in post-soviet states alienated the minorities. In brief, the post-soviet non-democratic and discriminative policies fostered the discontent among the minorities in the countries and encouraged the micro-nationalism usually under weak state structures. This paper and presentation aims at identifying, scaling and contextualizing the historical and contemporary factors role in ethnic conflicts in order to find a working exit for reconciliation in the region.