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New Publications on Religion and Politics in the South Caucasus

Two publications of Ketevan Rcheulishvili and Tigran Matosyan from Russian State University on Humanities featured recent developments in the field of religion and politics in Georgia and Armenia. An editorial contribution from Dr. Ansgar Jödicke, University of Fribourg, frames the publications in the context of religious and political developments and draws common features between the cases.  

The paper "A New Public Role of Religion? Recent Issues of Religion and Politics in Georgia" by K. Rcheulishvili discusses the discourse on the public role of religion in Georgia after the collapse of the communist regime. Of particular interest is the examination of the Georgian Orthodox Church's role in shaping national identity and mediating new social values and norms. The paper sheds light on the discrepancy between traditional or/and religious values promoted by the Georgian Orthodox Church and democratic and liberal values. 

The next paper "Church as Civil Society? Recent Issues of Religion and Politics in Armenia" by T. Matosyan reflects on the potential of the Armenian Apostolic Church for the process of democratization and to the formation of civil society in Armenia. In particular, the paper examines to what extent the church's strong ties with the state prevented it from becoming a full-fledged member of civil society.

Both papers were published in Caucasus Analytical Digest, No. 72, 29 April 2015. [click here to download the file]

Invitation to ISSICEU Public Panel in Istanbul on 17 April

In the framework of the second internal meeting of the ISSICEU research consortium, which will take place in Istanbul from 15 April - 17 April, there will be a panel debate open to all interested members of the academic and political public. The panel is scheduled for 18.00-19.30 on 17 April and will close the 3-day meeting of the ISSICEU researchers.

The public panel titled "Turkey and the Caucasus: Inter-Societal Relations, Civil Society Development and Security" will take place at Baltalimani Polis Evi. Among the panelists are Prof. Mitat Celikpala from Kadir Has University and Fehim Tastekin from Radikal newspaper. The debate will be moderated by the ISSICEU project coordinator Prof. Dirk Lehmkuhl and Dr. Burcu Gültekin Punsmann from the Turkish ISSICEU partner Ankara Policy Center.

For further information on the panelists, the agenda and the venue of the public panel please refer to the official invitation.

2nd ISSICEU workshop on topical issues of civil society in the Northern Caucasus

On 28 March 2015, a second workshop of ISSICEU Work Package 2 titled "Topical Problems and Development Trends of Civil Society" was carried out in Nalchik by the KBSU team. This time the workshop's focus lay on the discussion of preliminary outputs from the public survey on topical issues of civil society in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Following the practice of the succesful workshop in Cherkessk, which took place in February, results of the public survey were compared with insights gained from interviews with local NGO leaders and case studies. Summarised outputs, presented by Dr. Murat Shogenov, were discussed by a group of academics and experts participated in interviews. As a result, perspective topics for future in-depth study were singled out, as well as main conclusions, relevant for comparative analysis with data from Karachay-Cherkessia. The results of a comparative analysis of findings from Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia are planned to be presented during the upcoming internal meeting of ISSICEU in Istanbul.

For further information on key questions and problems discussed during the 2-nd workshop please refer to the summary report.

Start of quantitative survey on attitudes towards civic participation in the South Caucasus

The largest quantitative survey in the ISSICEU research project has been rolled out in the South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The selected polling institutes are collecting data over a period of 10 weeks, starting from 15 February.

The survey will focus on attitudes towards civil society, with a particular focus on activities of civic participation in the South Caucasus and motivations for such. The survey touches upon potential conflict situations in transition societies and asks if civic activism is considered as a helpful and permissible response.

All questions of the questionnaire have been originally shaped through discussions among the consortium participants involved. The ISSICEU survey will therefore include new substantial elements compared to existing studies. The very essential idea of the survey is to combine general opinions of the people on civic activism with assessing their practical, individual and direct involvement with such activism. Another additional focus in this survey will be a special interest on religious agency in social participation, which has been largely ignored in the majority of previous surveys.

The survey is going to be conducted in all three South Caucasus countries Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, excluding the secessionist regions Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. ISSICEU has selected polling institutes in an international open tender process and is pleased to work with the following survey companies:

Armenia: Caucasus Research and Resource Center Armenia

Azerbaijan: International Center for Sociological Research

Georgia: Caucasus Research and Resource Center Georgia

ISSICEU workshop on topical issues of civil society in Karachay-Cherkessia

On 7 February a workshop titled "Topical Problems and Development Trends of Civil Society in Karachay-Cherkessia" was held in Cherkessk. The workshop's focus lay on the discussion of preliminary outputs from the public survey on topical issues of civil society in Karachay-Cherkessia.

The survey was conducted using the questionnaire on civil society and civic participation jointly developed within the Work Package 2 of ISSICEU - including slight regional adaptation. Results were compared with insights gained from in-depth interviews with local NGO representatives and from analysis of several relevant case studies. The summarised outputs were presented by Dr. Murat Shogenov at the workshop to a group of local experts including those who participated in interviews. During the active and fruitful discussions moderated by Prof. Alexey Gunya main conclusions were drawn and perspective topics for future in-depth study were singled out.

The ISSICEU consortium participant KBSU plans a further expert workshop on civil society in Kabardino-Balkaria to take place in Nalchik at the end of March 2015.

For further information on key questions and problems discussed during the February workshop please refer to the summary report.


Joint meeting with sister project CASCADE

In December 2014, a joint meeting between Katharina Hoffmann, ISSICEU co-ordinator, and CASCADE team, ISSICEU`s sister FP7 project, was held at CREES, University of Birmingham. 

During the meeting, Katharina Hoffmann and CASCADE team, including Dr. Kataryna Wolczuk, Dr. Derek Averre, Dr. Kevork Oskanian and Nino Kemoklidze, discussed their research projects and exchanged ideas on further collaboration. Having presented CASCADE`s outlines, researchers form both teams explored opportunities for cooperation in the future. To strengthen the synergy effect of cooperation the organisation of mutual events and the preparation of joint publications, including journal special issues, were envisaged. 

More information on CASCADE project can be found here:

New Publication on Factors of Stability and Instability in the Northern Caucasus

The research team from the Kabardino-Balkarian State University offers a new methodological approach in analysing factors of stability and instability in the Northern Caucasus.

Identification and detailed analysis of conflicts as an efficient method of a comprehensive understanding of topical social processes is a new direction of society studies, in particular of problems and issues concerning (in)stability and development. [...] Based on theoretical thought on dynamic stability and adaptation of societies, the following clusters of indicators that contribute to (in)stability are determined as a working definition of stability: Physical Security, Institutionalised forms of legitimate governance, economic reproduction and adaptive change. [click here to download the file]

Call for Proposals - Sociological Survey in South Caucasus (Deadline: December 15, 2014)

ISSICEU is searching for a subcontractor - a competent organization to conduct a sociological survey "Civil Society and Civic Participation in the South Caucasus." We seek proposals for conducting quantitative representative nationwide sociological survey aiming at understanding the levels and the forms of civic participation in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The questionnaire developed by the project team includes about 40 questions. The questionnaire was created by the Project team in English and then translated into Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani.

The suggested number of respondents is no less than 1000. The service should also include one month consultancy in survey database analysis. We invite both companies that have the capacity to cover one of the South Caucasus countries and companies that may cover only one of the countries to submit their offer. We welcome both international and local organizations with respective competence.

The suggested dates of the survey are January-February 2015.

The proposals are to be submitted in English and contain the following information:

• A brief statement of the experience (up to 1 page);
• A brief note on methodology, including sampling and data collection technique (up to 1 page);
• Prospected feasible dates of survey;
• Suggested prices;
• Contract template

The proposals should be sent no later than December 15, 2014, to the following email addresses:
for the survey in Azerbaijan:
for the survey in Armenia and Georgia:

If you have any queries about the call please contact us at the same address.

Caucasus Conference and Book Presentation at University of Fribourg

On 14 November the ISSICEU researchers Dr. Ansgar Jödicke and Prof. Dr. Alexander Agadjanian, together with Prof. Dr. Evert van der Zweerde, will present their new volume on the South Caucasus titled "Religion, Nation and Democracy in the South Caucasus". The book presentation will be embedded in a full day conference with lectures and discussions with the authors and a number of further Caucasus experts.

The full title of the publication is:
Alexander Agadganian; Ansgar Jödicke; Evert van der Zweerde (eds.): Religion, Nation and Democracy in the South Caucasus. Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series, 59. Routledge 2014 (

For further information on the conference of 14 November please refer to the conference programme:

Joint pilot studies of ISSICEU and CASCADE in Chechnya

From 12 to 17 October 2014, researchers of the European FP7 projects ISSICEU and CASCADE carried out five days of joint field studies in Chechnya. The study was aimed on exploring different social processes and observable indicators of modernization and innovation in the fields of politics, economy and culture.

Beside the ISSICEU WP2 team from KBSU (Gunya Alexey, Chechenov Alan, Shogenov Murat) and partners from the WP2 CASCADE project team Vladimir Kolosov and Olga Vendina, scholars and teachers of the Chechen State University, representatives of the local parliamentary and the NGO sector participated in specially organised discussion meetings. Based on the fruitful results of the pilot studies, research teams decided to continue collaboration. Particularly, a joint workshop is planned to be held in Karachay-Cherkessia.