Retrospection: 3rd EUCACIS conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, 30 – 31 August 2018

On 30 – 31 August 2018 the international conference on „Central Asia and the Caucasus in Transition: International Perspectives” took place in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was the 3rd conference organised by the EUCACIS PhD Support Programme of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) and the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) which is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and Erasmus+. The event was supported by and took place at the ILIA State University, the city‘s second biggest academic entity. You can find the conference agenda here.

During the 2-day conference, panel debates covered such topics as security and stability, transition processes, as well as the role of the socio-cultural dialogue between Central Asia, the South Caucasus and Europe. In a first panel, the nature of the conflicts in the South Caucasus region has been discussed controversially, and a critical assessment of the role of the EU, Russia, and further external actors in the solution of these conflicts and the development of the region has been made. A second panel debate focussed on opportunities of democratic transformation and interregional cooperation in Central Asia. It has been emphasised that, since Uzbekistan’s opening up under President Mirziyoyev and the launch of the Chinese ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, regional rapprochement and development has become a priority issue for Central Asia, in particular with regards to tourism, connectivity and trade. Finally, a third panel offered a glance into the challenges of civil society engagement and the role of the ‘European model’ for the political cultures and democratisation processes in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The panel discussions have been continued and deepened in working groups. The debates made clear that, despite the many challenges for peace, stability and prosperity in both regions, great achievements have been made, and the European Union remains an important partner. During the conference, the 12 EUCACIS fellows were provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.