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,

IEP: Dr Katrin Böttger, Tel. +49 (0)30 889134-21,

Press contact: Dr Susann Heinecke, Tel. +49 (0)30 8600 840-18,

Building Bridges in Riga

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On 17-19 April 2018, the first Networking Conference and Review Workshop of the project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” took place in Riga.

Organized by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA), the conference provided an opportunity for the consortium partners to meet in person, to discuss their work progress and to widen their networks.

One highlight of the conference was an exclusive round table with the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Peter Burian, the SEnECA consortium and SEnECA Advisory Board members. In this first encounter, the Special Representative provided valuable insights into the ongoing revision process of the EU Central Asia Strategy and emphasized that evidence-based research such as the SEnECA recommendation papers and the long-term Central Asia Communication Strategy will be able to provide substantial input to the review process. Moreover, Burian pointed out that consultations with the Central Asian partners have already taken place in Tashkent and other capitals and that several thematic working groups have been set up (e.g. one on designing tools to boost investment in Central Asia while being attentive to the environment). The Advisory Board members, for whom the Riga conference was their first SEnECA event, could share their opinions with the ambassador and get a feeling for the overall relevance of the project.

A public high-level panel discussion on the status and prospects of the cooperation between the EU and Central Asian countries took place at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the second day of the conference. Next to Peter Burian, the panel included the Latvian State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrejs Pildegoviĉs , the Director of LIIA, Dr. Andris Spruds (who chaired the debate), the Director of the Central Asian Studies Center at KIMEP University, Dr. Nargis Kassenova (Kazakhstan), the Head of the Contemporary History and International Relations Department at the National University of Uzbekistan, Dr. Mirzokhid Rakhimov, and the Co-Lead of SEnECA and Professor for European Integration and European Union Politics at the Department of Political Science of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Prof. Dr. Michael Kaeding (Germany).

During the high-level panel discussion, following crucial areas for cooperation could be identified: connectivity, environmental policy, education and civil society, economic relations as well as the rule of law and good governance. The panellists agreed that the revised EU Central Asia Strategy, which will be finalized by summer 2019, should be more focused than the existing document, taking the needs of Central Asian countries more into consideration. The idea that the EU should especially focus on areas in which it has a long-standing expertise and can add real value to Central Asian societies (i.e. vocational training, environmental standards, technological expertise, experience with involving civil society into decision-making processes etc.) was quite prominent in the debate.

The internal consortium meetings of the conference dealt especially with the mapping papers that are jointly produced by all consortium members. These incorporate the political, economic and cultural dimension of Central Asian-EU relations within the timeframe from 2007 until today. The mapping papers constitute the basis for the analysis and recommendation papers that will follow. In addition to the papers, the stakeholder analysis and the network analysis were key topics in the consortium meetings. Both analyses will result in a joint database, which will help scholars finding research partners, identifying relevant policy-makers or media representatives and enlarging their professional networks.

Overall, the conference in Riga allowed SEnECA partners to form closer relations with each other and to simultaneously enjoy the Latvian cuisine, architecture and hospitality. The conference provided room for conversations on common research projects, current political developments, cultural commonalities and differences, gender issues, food habits and other topics. These encounters are crucial to a project that seeks to energize the relations between two regions which have already started creating closer ties since the end of the Cold War and are on the best way to deepen them even more in the future.

Riga was the second gathering of the SEnECA consortium after the project kick-off in Berlin in January 2018. In Berlin, partners met for the first time to become acquainted with Horizon 2020 procedures, to set the course for the two years project and to get to know each other better.

The agenda of the Riga conference can be viewed here.

High-level Panel Discussion on EU-Central Asia Relations

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The high-level panel discussion with the topic “Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” took place in Riga at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 18,2018 as part of the 1st Networking Conference of SEnECA.

The panel discussion assessed the status and prospects of the cooperation between the EU and the Central Asian countries. How successful has the EU engagement in the region been so far? How do the activities of the EU align among activities of other external powers? How can the EU further strengthen and energize the relations with the Central Asian countries?


  • Andrejs Pildegovičs, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
  • Peter Burian, EU Special Representative for Central Asia
  • Nargis Kassenova, Director of the Central Asian Studies Center at KIMEP University, Kazakhstan
  • Mirzokhid Rakhimov, Head of the  Contemporary History and International Relations Department, National University of Uzbekistan
  • Michael Kaeding, Deputy Dean at the Department of Social Sciences of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Moderator: Dr. Andris Sprūds, Director of LIIA, Latvia

You can watch the video of the high-level panel discussion here.

Kick-Off Meeting in Berlin

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From 23 to 24 January 2018, the kick-off meeting of the Horizon 2020 project “SEnECA – Strengthening and energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” took place in Berlin (hosted by the Institut fuer Europaeische Politik, IEP).

The meeting was the first opportunity for the twelve consortium members from think tanks, universities and NGOs in Europe and Central Asia to meet and lay the foundation for future cooperation.

The greatest expectation of the involved partners at the meeting was to clearly understand the responsibilities in this international and interdisciplinary project with five work packages and many intertwined tasks. This goal was successfully achieved with the support of very motivated and well-prepared coordinators from the University of Duisburg-Essen and the IEP. They made sure that topics such as new forms of scientific cooperation, future priorities for EU policy-making towards Central Asia and questions of awareness-raising and dissemination were thoroughly discussed and that consensus was achieved.

Ms. Silvie Rohanova, Policy Officer in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, provided support with specifics of the Horizon 2020 programme with regard to documentation, finances and ethics requirements. She described the SEnECA project as unique as it incorporated all five Central Asian countries (including Turkmenistan) and as it has set the ambitious goal to create a sustainable research and stakeholder network between the EU and Central Asia, which will stimulate and deepen the relations between the two regions.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Michael Siebert, Head of the Division for Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus from the German Federal Foreign Office, emphasised the special role of the EU in Central Asia in comparison to other global players such as China, Russia or the US. Next to interests like stability and trade relations, the EU also sought to establish a platform of shared values and understanding with Central Asian countries. In order to arrive at such a common ground, it was important not to “create a Christmas tree” during the strategic planning of the new EU-CA Strategy, but to clearly define a few focus areas.

Overall, the discussions during the keynote speeches, coffee brakes and dinners were crucial for breaking the ice and building trust among the consortiums members, many of whom had met for the first time. On the European side, the consortium consists of institutions from Latvia, Poland, United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Germany. On the Central Asian side, partners come from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. They all have the same objective: to make sure that during the course of the coming two years, a profound shift can take place in how academics, decision-makers and civil society members from both regions relate to one another.

Project Start of SEnECA

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UDE leads EU project on Central Asia relations

While they are situated thousands of kilometres apart and characterised by different political values, Central Asia and the European Union have become important partners. In the Horizon 2020-project “SEnECA – Strengthening and energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” researchers and think tanks will analyse how the relationship between the EU and the Central Asian countries can be further intensified. Prof. Dr. Michael Kaeding, professor for European politics at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) and Dr. Katrin Böttger, Deputy Director of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP) are coordinating the project conjointly with financial support from Brussels: The EU is funding the project with about 1.5 million Euros in the following two years.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: For ten years now, the EU has been pursuing its ‘Strategy for a New Partnership’ in this region. Intersecting Asia and Europe, these countries are of high geopolitical importance. The development and consolidation of stable and democratic societies in these countries is essential to the European Union.

“The five former members of the Soviet Union have a rich political history marked by a variety of conflicts. The EU is keen to strengthen its ties with Central Asian countries, both for economic and security reasons, such as energy trade and counter-terrorism.. An additional goal is the stabilization of the very diverse political situations. From a researcher’s point of view, we would like to support Central Asian research organisations in cooperating on an international level”, explains Prof. Kaeding. “We are looking forward to strengthening and shaping the future cooperation between EU and Central Asia.”

The aim of the SEnECA project is threefold: Firstly, an interdisciplinary network of researchers working on Central Asia in Europe and European integration in the Central Asian region will be established. In the spirit of scientific cooperation, the project consortium involves ten partner organisations, five from Europe and five from Central Asia, in addition to UDE and IEP.

Secondly, the researchers will accompany the revision of the EU-Central Asia Strategy. In 2015 the strategy was updated and a proposal for the new strategy should be presented in 2019. The SEnECA team will provide policy recommendations for Europe’s future policy towards the region and will cooperate closely with Mr. Burian, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia.

Thirdly, the consortium wants to contribute to intensifying the existing relations. Therefore, the partners will analyse the current relations and will interview stakeholders from politics, economics and culture from Brussels and the EU member states as well as from Central Asia in order to identify future forms of cooperation and give recommendations.

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Michael Kaeding, Jean Monnet Lehrstuhl für Europäische Integration und Europapolitik,
Tel. 0203/379-2050,

Julian Plottka,
Tel. 030/889134-84,

Redaktion: Ulrike Bohnsack, Tel. 0203/379-2429