Register now for the SEnECA Final Conference “What Future for EU-Central Asia Relations?”, Brussels, 14-15 November

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SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU Central Asia Relations – consortium partners TEPSA and CIFE have the honor to invite you to the SEnECA Final Conference:

What Future for EU-Central Asia Relations?

14-15 November

 at “SQUARE” Brussels Convention Center, Rue Ravenstein 2, 1000 Brussels

Room: Hall 400

Programme

During the two-day event, SEnECA consortium members will present the outputs of the project, and will discuss the recommendations to implement the new EU’s Central Asia strategy. The event will also feature a panel on culture as a catalyst of social change in Central Asia, and on connectivity between Asia and Europe. Furthermore, the last panel of the conference will be an outlook on EU-Central Asia relations for 2030. The SEnECA Final Conference will also be a good opportunity to see some of the photos that were exhibited in the SEnECA Photo Exhibition on April 2019.

About SEnECA

The SEnECA project has been funded by the Horizon 2020 programme and runs from January 2018 to December 2019. It supports cooperation between Central Asia and the European Union by intensifying academic regional networking. The project is led by the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) and the University of Duisburg-Essen and further includes 10 organisations from the EU and Central Asia as members of the project consortium.

Read and download the draft agenda for the event

A draft agenda of the event can be accessed here.

Please register for the conference by filling in the registration form on the TEPSA website

You can find the registration form here.

SEnECA Recommendations Workshop in Brussels on 11-12 July 2019

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On 11 and 12 July 2019, the Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) organised the SEnECA Recommendations Workshop in Brussels. The goal of the fifth SEnECA event was to bring SEnECA consortium members and Brussels stakeholders together in order to discuss the implementation of the new EU Strategy on Central Asia, which has been ratified by the European Council in June 2019. The strategy means a new depth of cooperation between the two regions, meaning that SEnECA – as a project aiming at strengthening EU-Central Asia relations – is highly interested in advising and supporting the upcoming implementation process of the strategy. The 2-day Recommendations Workshop spurred discussions which will flow into two final SEnECA policy papers to be presented to the public at the SEnECA final conference in Brussels on 14 and 15 November 2019. Once published, the policy papers will then also be available here.

The highlight of the workshop was an elaborate keynote speech of EU Special Representative towards Central Asia, Peter Burian, who has made a great effort visiting European and Central Asian cities during the past two years and consulting with a multitude of public officials, representatives of the private sector and civil society. The result of these consultations is a strategy which “does not only look good on paper, but is supported by the partners in Central Asia and will be fully implemented“, according to Ambassador Burian. The focus of the new strategy is on “partnership for resilience“ and “partnership for prosperity“. These objectives shall be achieved through a number of old and new cooperation tools, one of which stands out: the first "EU-Central Asia Forum". This forum shall regularly bring together representatives of civil society, academics and think tankers as well as officials from the EU and Central Asia.

After Ambassador Burian’s speech, SEnECA consortium members Anna Gussarova (CAISS, Kazakhstan) and Dr. Māris Andžāns (LIIA, Latvia) presented the SEnECA recommendations for the implementation of the new EU strategy. They stressed that special attention should be paid to establishing qualitative and quantitative measurement methods for the assessment of the impact of the strategy and of the developments in the region. Furthermore, the researchers pointed out that the EU should put more effort into improving its image in Central Asia through a thorough communication strategy, which shall make understandable to Central Asians what the EU stands for and what it actually does in the region.

The main part of the workshop consisted of a views exchange with all attendees of the workshop on the presented recommendations. Different aspects of the new strategy and ideas on its implementation  were discussed in three parallel working groups, focusing on 1) political and security relations, 2) economic relations and trade and 3) cultural and other relations respectively. Three representatives of EU institutions introduced the respective working group topic to the participants: Boris Yarochevitch from the EEAS, Maciej Madalinski from DG DEVCO and Angela Atzori from the DG DEVCO;. In the working groups, a variety of stakeholders took part: EU officials, state officials, embassy staff, researchers, representatives of international organisations and civil society. In total 53 people attended the event. The results of the lively debates within the working groups comprise the main part of the two final SEnECA recommendations policy papers.

Day 2 of the Recommendations Workshop offered the opportunity for internal consortium talks and for a mutual update among the partners on the progress within the different work packages. The SEnECA project lasts from January 2018 until December 2019 and will end with a public conference in Brussels on 13-15 November 2019. SEnECA researchers have so far produced 13 policy papers on developments in Central Asia vis-a-vis the European Union and other key actors, 2 background papers on the current state of affairs of Central Asian Studies in the EU and EU Studies in Central Asia, and a Stakeholder Analysis identifying the most important stakeholders in EU- Central Asia relations. In the upcoming months, the project will finalize the Agenda for Future Research Cooperation as well as the Long-Term Central Asia Communication Strategy, among other documents. All published documents can be found on the SEnECA website under Policy Papers.

 

SEnECA panel at the TEPSA 2019 Finnish Pre-Presidency Conference

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On 7 June 2019, SEnECA organised a panel on the topic “EU and Russia in Central Asia, Eastern Neighbourhood and Western Balkans” in the framework of the TEPSA Pre-Presidency Conference in Helsinki. Julian Plottka (IEP, Germany) participated as a speaker on behalf of the SEnECA consortium. The other speakers were Arkady Moshes, Programme Director at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Pernille Rieker, Research Professor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and Dušan Reljić, Head of Office, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik. The debate was moderated by Atila Eralp, Professor at the Middle East Technical University. A video of the panel discussion can be watched here.

The discussants talked about the involvement of the EU and Russia in Central Asia, Eastern Neighbourhood and Western Balkans. Against the backdrop of the newly published Central Asia strategy of the EU, the speakers discussed how the involvement of the EU might change in the future. Pernille Rieker commented that the Central Asia strategy is  not focused on certain priorities, but instead covers many different policy areas. This is because civil society has been consulted in the preparation for the strategy so that many of the gathered views have been incorporated in this broad framework..

Julian Plottka stated that while it is difficult for the EU to compete with Russia in Central Asia due to Russia’s cultural influence through mass media, among other means, the Central Asian states are still interested in a closer cooperation with the EU. The EU especially has a comparative advantage in the region as a balancing actor and as an actor seeking sustainable connectivity. Arkady Moshes on the other hand assumed that Russia’s influence in Central Asia will diminish in the next years while China will gain more and more importance as an economic and political actor.

The Pre-Presidency Conferences (PPCs) are the flagship activity of TEPSA. They take place twice a year in the capital of the country which holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU prior to its mandate. The main aim of TEPSA’s Pre-Presidency Conferences is to bring together academics and researchers from the broad TEPSA network, policy-makers, media and civil society in order to discuss the agenda and challenges of the upcoming Council Presidencies. TEPSA Pre-Presidency conferences constitute a major platform for communication and exchange between policy-makers and academia.

Impressions of SEnECA Photo Exhibition on Central Asia

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From 4 to 5 April, the Trans European Policy Studies Association organised the SEnECA Photo Exhibition “Daily lives in Central Asia” at the Centre for Fine Arts “BOZAR” in Brussels. The photos for the exhibition were collected through a photo contest in November 2018, which called for photos depicting daily life in Central Asia. The six winners of the photo contest from Kazakhstan, Germany/Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were invited to attend the opening of the photo exhibition.

The 65 selected photos depicted the remote and beautiful landscapes and cultural richness of Central Asian countries, providing a very diverse picture of day-to-day life in the region. As the photos were from a total of 17 photographers, they showed different life realities in the region: from vivid life in big cities to the calmer Nomad way of life in the mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. This contrast demonstrated not only the differences and similarities between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, but also stimulated a reflection on the connections between Central Asia and Europe.

The photo exhibition opened on 4 April with a conference that included a key note speech, two panel discussions and the award ceremony for the winners of the photo contest. Participants included EU officials, diplomats, journalists, researchers, civil society and interested citizens.

Michael Kaeding, SEnECA Project Coordinator, welcomed all participants and introduced the project to the audience. He highlighted the cooperation between the different consortium partners from both Central Asia and Europe and announced the future SEnECA events in Brussels in July and November 2019.

Philippe van Amersfoort, Deputy Head of Central Asia Division in the European External Action Service (EEAS), emphasised in his key note speech that the upcoming EU Strategy towards Central Asia is crucial to strengthening the relations between the EU and Central Asia. The Strategy will include topics such as regional cooperation, culture, women empowerment and education. Afghanistan and investing in communication and people to people connectivity in Central Asia will also play an important role in the Strategy, according to the EU official.

The first panel on “What does the EU’s planned strategy on ‘Connecting Europe and Asia’ mean for Central Asia?” was moderated by Alica Kizekova, researcher at the Prague Institute of International Relations, and included the following speakers: Andreas Marazis, researcher at the European Neighbourhood Council, Jan de Kimpe, Managing Director of PICS Belgium, and Philippe van Amersfoort. Philippe van Amersfoort indicated that there are three main priorities for the future of EU-Central Asia relations: a better regulated framework in terms of trade, a more developed trans-European network and a significant investment in energy and digital economy. Andreas Marazis emphasised the need for EU investment in the region in terms of cooperation, and that the strategy needs to be tailored to the people. An element of ownership should be present in all planned activities, he said. Jan de Kimpe shed light on the state of transport routes in the region and the role of other international actors, such as China, in building road connections in Central Asia.

The second panel on the topic of “What role do education and culture play in bringing European and Central Asian citizens closer together?”, moderated by Julian Plottka from the Institut für Europäische Politik, included Aida Liha-Matejicek, Head of Unit for culture, education and health, DG DEVCO, Louise Haxthausen, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels, and Christian Wagner, Team Leader of the Central Asia Education Platform. Liha-Matejicek highlighted that culture and education should be the main priority in the region and referred to the Erasmus+ programme as an important tool to increase education cooperation between the EU and the Central Asian states. Furthermore, Louise Haxthausen stressed that culture and education are crucial to the future of the people and more investment in this area should be made. Lastly, Christian Wagner enlightened the audience with a number of very positive success stories on the high-quality level of education in the region and the utmost importance of education in preventing radicalization.

Before the exhibition was officially opened, the six best contestants of the photo contest were awarded. They shortly introduced themselves and shared personal reasons behind their passion for photography as well as their attitudes towards their home countries.

The exhibition remained open to the public until 5 April. In total 212 visitors attended the exhibition.

SEnECA Photo Exhibition: Daily lives in Central Asia

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For many Europeans, Central Asia is a blank spot on the map. Exceptions are those adventurous travelers who upon their return to Europe tell of breathtaking scenery, delicious food and hospitable inhabitants.

The Horizon2020 project SEnECA – “Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia relations” seeks to raise awareness of this region. We aim to bring Central Asia closer to Europe and to its citizens who have previously had little exposure to the region.

This is why the Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) – as a consortium member of SEnECA – will organise a two-day free photo exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts “BOZAR” (Room: Rotunda Bertouille) in Brussels  on 4 and 5 April 2019. It will show the beauty, culture and traditions of Central Asian countries portraying the daily lives of their inhabitants and stimulating a reflection on the differences and similarities between Europe and Central Asia.

The photos displayed have been selected by means of a transnational photo competition that gathered more than 300 pictures from professional and amateur photographers from all around the world. Six winners of the photo contest from Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been invited to Brussels to attend the opening of the photo exhibition.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on 4 April from 11:00 to 14:30 and will include two panel discussions. The first panel will discuss what the EU’s planned strategy on “Connecting Europe and Asia” means for Central Asia while the second panel will elaborate on what role education and culture can play in bringing European and Central Asian citizens closer together. The panel discussions will involve EU policy-makers such as Philippe van Amersfoort, Deputy Head of Central Asia Division of the European External Action Service, civil society representatives, researchers and other stakeholders from both the EU and Central Asia.

After the panel discussions, the participants will have the chance to look at the photo exhibition and engage in a debate together with the winners of the photo contest.

Programme

   11:00    Registration

   11:15
- 13:25    Panel discussions

  • What does the EU’s planned strategy on “Connecting Europe and Asia” mean for Central Asia?
  • What role do education and culture play in bringing European and Central Asian citizens closer together?

13:25    Award ceremony for winners of photo contest

13:40   Lunch

A full draft agenda of the event can be accessed here.

If you would like to participate in the opening, please register here.

New series of SEnECA papers published: in-depth analyses on the political, economic and cultural relations between the EU and Central Asia

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The Horizon 2020 project SEnECA has released three policy papers which contain a profound analysis of the current relations between the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and the European Union (on supranational and national level). The analyses are based on the SEnECA mapping papers on EU-Central Asia relations that have been already published in 2018. The three new papers are complemented by 22 semi-structured interviews with representatives of Central Asian academic institutions, non-governmental organisations, businesses, and governmental agencies. The papers focus on political and security relations (paper no. 10), economic and trade relations (paper no. 11), and culture, identity and civil society (paper no. 12). You can find the analysis policy papers on the project website: https://www.seneca-eu.net/policy-papers-briefs/.

The analysis papers are the second phase in the three-phase-approach of developing the SEnECA Policy Roadmap for future priorities for EU policy-making towards Central Asia (mapping – analysis – recommendations). They evaluate the implementation of the EU’s and its member states’ Central Asia policies. The papers also offers an evaluation of other actors’ presence in and engagement with Central Asian countries and outline the EU’s comparative advantages and disadvantages. Finally, the analyses provide insights into the perception of the EU’s/EU member states’ policies in Central Asia. Thus, the papers suggest how certain EU policies can be improved. The time frame of the analysis is 2007-2018, a timeline that takes into account the inception of the EU’s first Strategy for Central Asia.

The project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” seeks to improve research cooperation and to strengthen capacities in research and policy advice in the EU and Central Asia. It comprises an international consortium with twelve partner organizations from the EU and all five Central Asian countries. The project is led by Prof. Dr Michael Kaeding, Professor for European politics at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), and Dr Katrin Böttger, Director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP). The project is funded with around 1.5 million Euros under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for a period of two years.

 

Further information:

UDE: Prof. Dr Michael Kaeding, Jean Monnet Chair for European Integration and European Union Politics, Tel. +49 (0)203 379-2050, michael.kaeding@uni-due.de

IEP: Dr Katrin Böttger, Tel. +49 (0)30 889134-21, katrin.boettger@iep-berlin.de

Press contact: Dr Susann Heinecke, Tel. +49 (0)30 8600 840-18, susann.heinecke@cife.eu

Thinking outside the box: SEnECA Midterm Conference and Scenario Workshop on 29-31 January 2019 in Almaty

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The second international conference of the Horizon 2020 project SEnECA took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 29 to 31 January 2019. The conference comprised high-panel podium discussions, an academic policy advice training and a scenario building workshop on EU-Central Asia relations. It was the third event during which the SEnECA consortium members from eleven involved countries could meet in person, discuss the project progress and develop new ideas. The conference was organised by the Central Asia Institute for Strategic Studies (CAISS), a Kazakh think tank based in Almaty.

A total of 85 academics, government officials, practitioners and students (including SEnECA partners) from Europe and Central Asia participated in the conference elaborating on the current state of affairs of EU-Central Asia relations. Ambassador Peter Burian, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, provided new insights on the revised Central Asia strategy of the EU, which is currently being finalised and which will be presented to the public in summer 2019. Burian stressed that a sustainable Eurasian connectivity is essential to the EU and that the report “Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy” that was published in October 2018 is going to be a significant framework to improve economic ties between the two regions. Furthermore, the Ambassador underlined the importance of strengthening the youth in Central Asia through initiatives related to employment opportunities, private sector development and financial investment.

During the academic advice training, junior and senior researchers acquired useful skills on how to improve the “transfer” of research results to the wider public and how to best approach decision-makers. Dr Sebastian Schiek, researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, gave input on how to write a policy paper and presented good and bad examples of such publications. One prominent lesson learned during the workshop was the realisation that approaching decision-makers is a much more sensitive undertaking in Central Asia than it is in Europe. Hence, the “transfer” would have to be conducted in a less critical and less formalized way in the Central Asian context.

Another highlight of the conference was the scenario building workshop which served as a thought experiment. Divided into three groups, participants had to identify important drivers for the regional cooperation in Central Asia and to sketch out three different future scenarios while focusing on those drivers. Participants regarded the following factors as the two most crucial ones: “the (high or low) engagement of external powers in Central Asia” as well as the “(strong or limited) change in the domestic political systems in Central Asia”. Interestingly, the three scenario groups came to very different conclusions when imagining a strong involvement of external powers in the region, which showed the wide range of perceptions of Russia, China, the US and the EU among Central Asians.

Overall, the conference was a great opportunity for researchers and stakeholders to meet, to generate more understanding for each other’s views and to develop common project ideas. The project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” aims to improve research cooperation and to strengthen capacities in research and policy advice in the EU and Central Asia. It is led by Prof. Dr Michael Kaeding, Professor for European Politics at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), and Dr Katrin Böttger, Director at the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP). The project is funded with around 1.5 million Euros under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for a period of two years (January 2018 – December 2019).

SEnECA Midterm Conference and Scenario Workshop “EU and Central Asia Relations: Current Trends and Future Prospects”

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Which researchers are working on EU-Central Asia relations in Europe and which scholars study the European Union in Central Asia? Which stakeholders from civil society, media and the private sector are engaged in EU-Central Asia relations, and how can they be better connected in a more closely-knit network?

These are two of the main questions which the project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” would like to answer. The Midterm Conference and Scenario Workshop taking place in Almaty on 30-31 January 2019 is the second occasion for the Horizon 2020 project SEnECA to present the current state of affairs, discuss ways to provide policy recommendations to decision-makers and engage stakeholders within the new EU Strategy for Central Asia.

Date: Almaty, Kazakhstan, 30-31 January 2019

Venue: InterContinental Almaty Hotel, 181 Zheltoksan street, Almaty 050013, Kazakhstan

The conference is structured in two parts:

  • High-level panel discussions and Academic Policy Advice Training (Day 1 )
  • Scenario Building Workshop (Day 2)

The panel discussions will include community representatives such as researchers and government officials from the EU and Central Asia. The Academic Policy Advice Training will provide the conference participants with the opportunity to acquire skills on how to transfer their research results into policy recommendations towards decision-makers. During the Scenario Building Workshop, the conference participants will develop possible scenarios for the future of EU-Central Asia relations in working groups under the guidance of an expert in scenario building.

The SEnECA conference in Almaty offers a great opportunity for researchers and practitioners from Central Asia to network and to connect with their European counterparts.

If you would like to participate in the conference, please sign up here at the latest by 18 January 2018.

Daily Life in Central Asia

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Capture the essence of Central Asia in a picture

The project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” aims to better connect the EU and Central Asia. In order to achieve this aim, the Trans European Policy Association (TEPSA) will organise a public photo exhibition in the framework of the SEnECA project in Brussels in spring 2019 to bring the region closer to EU citizens and invites professionals and talented amateurs to send in their photos depicting life in Central Asia.

Photography is a powerful communication tool that can help citizens familiarise with Central Asia. By exhibiting photos of daily life in this region, citizens can enhance their understanding of Central Asia and grasp how both regions are connected. Photography can transcend borders through visual messages that can be understood by everyone regardless of their place of origin. On 4 and 5 April 2019, SEnECA will organise a two-day free photo exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts “BOZAR” in Brussels to show the beauty, culture and traditions of Central Asian countries, portraying the daily lives of their inhabitants and stimulating a reflection on the differences and similarities between Europe and Central Asia.

Capture the essence of Central Asia in a picture is SEnECA’s photo contest and it is open to all residents of the EU and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). Photos submitted are encouraged to feature ordinary life in the countries of Central Asia, from the city to the countryside, covering all categories that define how an ordinary day in Central Asia looks like. The best 50 pictures will be exhibited in Brussels and the five successful candidates will win a trip to Brussels to attend the opening of the exhibition.

The deadline for submission is 30 November 2018. Find the detailed rules for submission here.

Tag us on your photos on social media with the handle @h2020seneca.

Mapping EU–Central Asia relations – Policy Papers just published

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In the framework of the SEnECA project, nine policy papers have been published which describe the current relations between the five Central Asian states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on the one hand, and the European Union on the supranational, but also on the national level, selected Asian states and world powers on the other hand. The mapping process was conducted by means of a literature review and focused on political and security relations (papers no. 1-3), economic and trade relations (papers no. 4-6), and culture, identity and civil society (papers no. 7-9). You can find the mapping policy papers on the project website.

The mapping policy papers are a first step in developing the SEnECA Policy Roadmap for future priorities for EU policy-making towards Central Asia. “These policy papers hold a wealth of hard-to-acquire information on the five Central Asian states’ role and position in the international system and vis-à-vis the European Union. They lay the foundation for the ensuing in-depth analysis of the EU-Central Asia relations, which will in turn lead to recommendations to be fed into the policy cycle of the review of the EU-Central Asia strategy”, explains Dr Böttger, Director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) who co-leads the project. For each of the phases (mapping – analysis – recommendations), SEnECA will publish a series of policy papers/briefs that outline the relevance of the region for specific policy fields of the EU and the interconnectedness of both regions.

The project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” seeks to improve research cooperation and to strengthen capacities in research and policy advice in the EU and Central Asia. It comprises an international consortium with twelve partner organizations from the EU and all five Central Asian countries. The project is led by Prof. Dr Michael Kaeding, Professor for European politics at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), and Dr Katrin Böttger, Director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP). The project is funded with around 1.5 million Euros under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for a period of two years.

Further information:

UDE: Prof. Dr Michael Kaeding, Jean Monnet Lehrstuhl für Europäische Integration und Europapolitik, Tel. +49 (0)203 379-2050, michael.kaeding@uni-due.de

IEP: Dr Katrin Böttger, Tel. +49 (0)30 889134-21, katrin.boettger@iep-berlin.de

Press contact: Dr Susann Heinecke, Tel. +49 (0)30 8600 840-18, susann.heinecke@cife.eu