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.