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.