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ISSICEU Research and Policy Contribution

ISSICEU links BASIC RESEARCH on the origins of stability and instability in the Caucasus societies to POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS. A FORECAST component, namely the development of three scenarios, will establish the link and will allow us to provide timely and innovative recommendations.

The strength and originality of ISSICEU builds on four pillars:

The Caucasus as one Region

ISSICEU will draw a picture of the Caucasus as a region in its diversity. The project goes beyond the traditional approach of studying the North and South Caucasus independently. We study societies both in the North and South Caucasus including the de facto states Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The research will identify crucial sources of stability but also of instability in the individual societies, will study the linkages between the societies at macro- and micro-level and will finally discuss manifestations of spill-over dynamics in matters of stability and instability. With this approach ISSICEU will generate a better picture of the regional dynamics in the Caucasus. This is necessary for appropriately assessing the impact of policy changes in the Caucasus societies and of external policies towards individual Caucasus entities by actors from the wider region, including the European Union.

Multidisciplinary Approach

ISSICEU relies on the innovative power of multidisciplinary approaches. The consortium has jointly identified the central study areas of ISSICEU. The researchers will analyse processes and actors in these areas from a variety of methodological and theoretical angles. This will highlight various facets of the dynamics in the Caucasus societies. Intensive dialogue on the multiple perspectives and research results will sharpen the picture of the dynamics in the Caucasus and will enable the ISSICEU consortium to formulate farsighted/comprehensive conclusions and policy recommendations.

Focus on understudied Processes and Actors

ISSICEU devotes attention to the following largely understudied processes and actors and their impact on stability in the individual societies and the entire region.

Communal governance: We look at the actual internal dynamics of the political regimes as they manifest themselves in communal governance. We put the often discussed question of successful democratisation in the rear and aim instead at spelling out the hybrid political order that has emerged in the interplay of adopted democratic and established domestic institutions and discussing its power to mitigate social conflicts.

Civic participation: ISSICEU will enhance the research on civil society development by identifying concepts, actors and practices, which help people to express their political will and pursue their interests in political, social and cultural contexts. Instead of mainly studying NGOs we focus on religious actors, traditional societal organisations and non-organised actors.

Economic interdependencies: The project investigates economic flows between the Caucasus societies at micro- and macro-level. ISSICEU thus shifts the perspective from the economic dependence of individual societies on non-regional actors to their effect on the intra-regional relations. We ask what impact petty trade and migration have on stability and instability.

Neighbourhood: ISSICEU will shed light on the in the literature largely dismissed neighbours Turkey and Iran. We will investigate Turkey ́s Caucasus policy instruments and their societal origins and will discuss the potential for cooperation between Turkey and the EU in the Caucasus. Iran comes into focus with its societal and religious groupings that interact with some Caucasus societies and its state Caucasus policy.

Forecast and Policy Recommendation

The consortium will use the last six months of the project to bring the different strings of its research findings together in order to map and to describe factors and processes that have the potential to mitigate social conflicts on the one hand and to name emerging hot-spots on the other. All main researchers will jointly develop a set of scenarios concerning the development of state-society relations, economic interdependencies and the role of actors from the wider region.

Both the basic research and the scenarios promise that ISSICEU generates innovative policy recommendations that go well beyond the evaluation of existing EU policy instruments.