4th and Final International EUCACIS Conference on “The EU, Central Asia and the South Caucasus“

On 23-24 May 2019, the international conference “The EU, Central Asia and the South Caucasus: new approaches on regional and international cooperation” took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It was the fourth and final conference within the framework of the PhD Support Programme EUCACIS for postgraduates and doctoral researchers from Central Asia and the South Caucasus, which is implemented by the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) and the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and Erasmus+. The event was organised with the PhD fellows’ support regarding the conceptualization of the programme as well as in close cooperation with the OSCE Academy in Bishkek.

The conference focused on possibilities of regional and international cooperation in different areas such as border management, migration, trade, energy, and security. Overall, it was agreed that regional cooperation should be enhanced since some challenges can only be tackled together; this especially includes climate as well as security issues. In the latter case, the role of Afghanistan was stressed which should not only be seen as a risk but as a partner.

On the international level, the role of the EU, Russia, China and the US in Central Asia was discussed. There were views of a declining role of Russia in favour of China and an uncertain future of the US engagement in the region, which currently seems to follow other priorities. Not least, the EU with its offer of a non-exclusive partnership seems to leave a certain room for manoeuvre for the Central Asian states. It was emphasised that a coordinated effort of all external actors involved would be profitable for all sides.

Some EUCACIS fellows acted as competent panel speakers during the conference and enriched the debates with their specific PhD research outputs, while others answered to questions relating to their dissertation projects in an international expert hearing on “democracy and social change in post-Soviet space”. The young researchers proved once more to be experts in their fields and appeared well prepared to enter the post-doc academic community.

The conference was also the occasion for the official EUCACIS Graduation Ceremony in the impressive setting of a Kyrgyz yurt. The fellows were honoured for their successful participation in the PhD Support Programme and got the chance to look back and recap the past three years together with the EUCACIS team and their supervisors.

The conference successfully allowed international researchers and practitioners to meet, exchange, and widen their network. It thus proved to be one of the many valuable opportunities for the PhD fellows during the programme to advance their scientific careers.

You can find the conference agenda here.