A core element of the ISSICEU dissemination strategy is the publication of scientific papers on the various dimensions of sources of (in)stability in the Caucasus. Please find short previews of the ISSICEU publications, which can be downloaded in the right column, below:
E. Yusifli - The Challenges of Grant and NGO Laws in Azerbaijan's Civil Society: Prospects for a viable Path forward
The policy brief analyses the implications of the in 2013-2015 revised legislation governing the activities of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Azerbaijan. These changes subjected many aspects of the NGOs' operations to bureaucratic fiats and significantly reduced the relative freedom they had previously. The EU should put efforts into reversing the restrictions. To improve its leverage in Azerbaijan the EU should capitalize on the momentum for policy reforms prompted by Azerbaijan's deepening economic woes.
K. Hoffmann - Challenges to local governance in the South Caucasus
Poverty and lack of access to basic public services, especially in the rural areas, are the Achilles' heel of all three South Caucasus countries. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all experienced various public protests against economic hardship fuelled by the substantial devaluation of the countries' currencies in 2015 and 2016. People in Azerbaijan and Armenia but also in Georgia have insufficient access to government structures. They see no avenue for making their needs heard and change policy other than by public protests. Domestic governments and external actors should increasingly undertake efforts to improve the interaction between people and governments, especially by strengthening local governance bodies. [Click here to download the file]
A. Jödicke - Shia groups and Iranian religious influence in Azerbaijan: the impact of trans-boundary religious ties on national religious policy
The Azerbaijani government's struggle against external influence from Iran has played a significant role in consolidating its secular self-identification since independence in 1991. Though strong, direct Iranian influence on Azerbaijani Shia groups belongs to the past, its effects are sustained. This article examines the religious transborder flows from Iran to Azerbaijan and their impact on Azerbaijani domestic religious policy. The analysis includes the factor of religion in a debate about how transnational actors challenge nation states' exclusive authority over their territory. The methodology of this research is qualitative, using data from government documents, newspaper articles, Facebook groups, and interviews with politicians and religious leaders. The presented materials go beyond the existing literature on Iranian influence in Azerbaijan, especially in considering the internet presence of Shia groups and the case study on Haji Şahin, one of the most popular Shia leaders. As a result, the analysis reveals that the Iranian intervention in Azerbaijan has effectively initiated the building of a more specific Shia identity in a small but growing number of Shia groups. This has led to the reconfiguration both of the religious field and of Turkish style political secularism.
Ansgar Jödicke (forthcoming, 2017). "Shia groups and Iranian religious influence in Azerbaijan: the impact of trans-boundary religious ties on national religious policy", Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2017.
A. Gunya - Local management in Russia: between the state and local features of life (on the example of regulation of the conflicts and development of the North Caucasian republics)
This theses prerared for the II International scientific conference "Christian social sciences: value-oriented management" discusses two opposing strategies in the local governance in the North Caucasus - strongly centralised state regulation and local regulation and self-organisation. It compares these two strategies and touches upon its positive and negative implications for the development of local communities.
Alexey Gunya (2016). "Local management in Russia: between the state and local features of life (on the example of regulation of the conflicts and development of the North Caucasian republics)". Theses of the II International scientific conference "Christian social sciences: value-oriented management", January 21, 2016 (In Russian). [Click here to download the file]
A. Gunya, T. Tenov, M. Shogenov, A. Chechenov - Analyses of governance strategies in the North Caucasian republics with respect to conflict regulation and development
The main goal of this article is to analyze local governance practices. The emphasis is placed on how local democratic institutions are involved in the political regimes and the way their functions are adjusted for the legitimization of the power of the ruling elites. In addition it focuses on the relations of formal and informal institutions and practices of governance and how they are used to resolve social conflicts in case of regime change, in particular for ensuring a gradual, rather than sudden (less controlled) change of the ruling elites, adapting to external changes.
Alexey Gunya, Timur Tenov, Murat Shogenov, Aslan Chechenov (2016). "Analyses of governance strategies in the North Caucasian republics with respect to conflict regulation and development". In: Knodt, Michèle; Urdze, Sigita (Ed.), North and South Caucasus: Domestic and European Perspectives on a fragmented and heterogenous region, Nomos Verlag: Baden-Baden, 2016. [Click here to download the file]
A. Gunya - Intergroup relations and conflicts of identity: stereotypes and realities on the example of the North Caucasus
The North Caucasus represents one of the most conflict-prone territories in the Russian Federation, subjected to identity and value tensions. The positive and negative facets of the North Caucasian conflict regulation have a valuable experience for Russia. The use of this rich and examplary experience of conflict mediation is, however, marred by often negative or false image of the North Caucasus in the media. This contribution, therefore, aims to unveil the stereotypes of the region and sheds more light on the true image of the North Caucasus.
Alexey Gunya (2015). "Intergroup relations and conflicts of identity: stereotypes and realities on the example of the North Caucasus". In the book: National and cultural identity in modern Russia. sources, features, prospects. SPb: Alatea, 2015, 313-326 (In Russian) [Click here to download the file]
J. Koehler, A. Gunya & M. Alkhazurov - Insurgency-informed governance in the North Caucasus: observations from Chechnya, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria
This article analyses the dynamics of the insurgencies and the corresponding counter-insurgency measures in the North Caucasus over the past 25 years. By comparing three cases – Chechnya, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria – the authors identify similarities and differences in the way insurgencies and counter-insurgency measures influence governance in the region. Analysing different dynamics and outcomes under similar framework conditions – a federal state with a centralised government trying to govern a region with a shared history of rebellions against
central rule and with similar geographic, social, and cultural features facilitating resistance and insurgencies – is a promising approach to a better understanding of conditions and implications of insurgency-induced governance in post-Soviet Russia.
Jan Koehler, Alexey Gunya and Magomed Alkhazurov (2016). "Insurgency-informed governance in the North Caucasus: observations from Chechnya, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria". Small Wars and Insurgencies, Vol. 27, No. 3., 367-391. [Click here to download the file]
A.Weiss & Y. Zabanova - Georgia and Abkhazia Caught between Turkey and Russia
Following seven months of severely strained relations, Turkey and Russia began to mend ties in late June 2016, when President Erdogan sent a conciliatory letter to his Russian counterpart. After the attempted coup d'état in Turkey three weeks later, Russian President Putin called Erdogan to express his support, providing added impetus to the normalisation process. By contrast, delayed and cautious reactions by Western leaders, as well as their criticism of the measures taken by the government after the failed coup, have caused disappointment in Turkey, where anti-Western sentiment is on the rise. While these developments have largely been discussed in terms of their implications for the Middle East, they have also affected Turkey and Russia's shared neighbourhood in the South Caucasus, including Georgia and its breakaway region of Abkhazia. The Turkish-Russian crisis called into question Abkhazia's strong ties with the large and active Turkish Abkhaz diaspora, an important economic and societal actor in the defacto state. In Georgia proper, the impact has been more ambivalent, with potential implications for the country's Euro-Atlantic integration processes.
Andrea Weiss & Yana Zabanova (2016). "Georgia and Abkhazia Caught between Turkey and Russia". SWP Comments 2016/C54, December 2016. [Click here to download the file]
A. Agadjanian - Ethnos, Nation, Religion: Recent Scholarship and Societal Processes in the South Caucasus
The paper aims to reveal a few trends in the interaction between religious, national, and ethnic identities as applied to the understanding of current developments in the South Caucasus. It starts with the dominant paradigms in scholarship of identities that has undergone deep evolution towards post-modern washing-out of old solid concepts, such as ethnos, nations, and religion. It turns next to those objective and subjective developments in the emerging new societies of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which seem to contradict the fashionable academic episteme by recreating robust and powerful concepts of ethnos, nation, and religion. Finally, it suggests a more complex interpretation that would mitigate the above contradiction between dominant academic scholarship and the societal processes.
A. Agadjanian (2016). "Ethnos, Nation and Religion: Recent Scholarship and Societal Processes in the South Caucasus". State, Religion and Church in Russia and Abroad, No. 2 (34), 2016 (In Russian). [Click here to download the file]
A. Gunya, A. Chechenov - Social Anthropology of Development and Stability at the Local Level
The ISSICEU team from the Kabardino-Balkarian State University prepared a first draft of the textbook "Social Anthropology of Development and Stability at the Local Level". The main focus of the textbook is the analysis of local conditions and their role in preventing from or contributing to the outburst of local conflicts in the Caucasus region. The textbook deals with the puzzle of why, despite the tense internal struggle for resources, power and influence, local conflicts remained non-violent and manageable.
The textbook will be of key interest to students of different disciplines, above all sociologists, political scientists, social geographers, economists, and jurists dealing with issues of stability and development at the local level. The structure of the textbook comprises 12 interrelated themes. The textbook will be published in Russian to allow for a distribution to universities in the Caucasus.
A. Gunya, A. Chechenov (2016). Social Anthropoligy of Development and Stability at the Local Level. Kabardino-Balkarian State University, November 2016. [Click here to download the introduction and the table of contents]
B. Gülketin Punsmann - Can We Envisage A Collaborative EU-Turkey Approach Supportive of Regionalism in the South Caucasus Today?
This policy brief shifts the focus to Turkey's borderland with the South Caucasus. It looks at the issue of a possible cooperation between the EU and Turkey in their policy toward the South Caucasus and discusses the likelihood of accommodating Iran and Russia. The increasing tensions in the territorial conflicts and emerging intra-societal tensions call for a more focused policy toward the South Caucasus. The brief further elaborates possible forms of cooperative action in issues related to security, trade and energy, and people-to-people contacts.
Burcu Gülketin Punsmann (2016). "Can We Envisage A Collaborative EU-Turkey Approach Supportive of Regionalism in the South Caucasus Today?". APM Policy Brief, October 2016. [Click here to download the file]
H. Demirdirek and O. Gafarli - How Non-Governmental Are Civil Societal Relations Between Turkey and Azerbaijan?
After the break-up of the Soviet Union, expressions such as the "brotherhood of Azerbaijan and Turkey" and "one nation, two states" found resonance in both countries. The article highlights how societal ties are most active on the discursive nationalist level, but not independent of state influence—the reach of which extends to Azerbaijani diaspora organizations in Turkey.
Hülya Demirdirek and Orhan Gafarli (2016). "How Non-Governmental Are Civil Societal Relations Between Turkey and Azerbaijan?", Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 86, 25 July 2016. [Click here to download the file]
A. Weiss - Turkish Georgians: The Forgotten Diaspora, Religion and Societal Ties
Turkey is home to a Georgian diaspora of historical origins and of the Laz, a Kartvelian speaking population. This article outlines the historical origins of these transboundary diasporic populations and their importance for contemporary Georgian–Turkish relations in three spheres of societal ties: cultural, religious and business.
Andrea Weiss (2016). "Turkish Georgians: The Forgotten Diaspora, Religion and Societal Ties", Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 86, 25 July 2016. [Click here to download the file]
Y. Zabanova - Turkey's Abkhaz Diaspora as an Intermediary Between Turkish and Abkhaz Societies
Although Turkey does not recognize Abkhazia and maintains a trade and transportation embargo on the defacto republic, Turkey's large historical Abkhaz diaspora has consistently challenged its government's policies. Defying legal restrictions, the diaspora has been the chief driver behind Turkish investment and trade in Abkhazia. In the absence of official contacts between Abkhazia and Turkey, the leading diaspora organization, called Abhazfed, has become the main Turkish institutional counterpart for the Abkhaz authorities, combining the role of an "embassy" with that of a lobbying firm. In Abkhazia, a community of returnees from Turkey has been active in promoting business and grassroots ties between the two societies, assuming the position of intermediaries. Ties between Abkhazia and its diaspora in Turkey proved resilient even during the tensest period in Russian–Turkish relations (November 2015–June 2016).
Yana Zabanova (2016). "Turkey's Abkhaz Diaspora as an Intermediary Between Turkish and Abkhaz Societies", Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 86, 25 July 2016. [Click here to download the file]
G. Welton and B. Barrowman - The Political Economy of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
This policy brief seeks to explain how the political economy of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict affects the incentives of the conflict parties and as a result, affects the likelihood of political settlement, maintenance of the status quo, and escalation. It concludes, suggesting that the economic support of Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenian government and diaspora has maintained a high level of income, thus reducing incentives to push for peaceful resolution, while, on the other hand, recent economic changes in Azerbaijan, and changes in its relations with Russia, may have increased the likelihood of war by changing decision makers' perceptions of the costs of conflict.
George Welton & Bret Barrowman (2016). "The Political Economy of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh". GeoWel Policy Brief, July 2016. [Click here to download the file]
H. Kanbolat - Seven Months of Tension: Reflections of Turkish-Russian Tension in the Caucasus and Solution Seeking
Turkish-Russian relations have been resilient enough for overcoming all kinds of political crises of various significance. Turkey did not experience any deep crisis with either Soviet Union or with Russian Federation after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite being part of the Western world Turkey was able to take a neutral stance on Georgia (2008) and Ukraine (2015). Similarly, despite being at opposite sides in the Syrian civil war, Turkey and Russia have been able to maintain good relations. Why did then the aircraft crisis go out of control and exacerbate the relations between Ankara and Moscow? The policy paper analyses the aircraft crisis and the role of the Caucasus region in it.
Hasan Kanbolat (2016). "Seven Months of Tension: Reflections of Turkish-Russian Tension in the Caucasus and Solution Seeking". APM Policy Paper, June 2016. [Click here to download the file]
F. Asadov - Scaling Up Civil Participation as a Stability Factor in the South Caucasus
An understanding of civil society's standing in post-Soviet countries is critical to the promotion of a stable and friendly neighborhood for Europe and for the countries in the region. Azerbaijani civil society can be especially important to study since the Azerbaijani government is reckoned to have the most considerable financial and institutional resources in their interaction with citizens and their organizational structures. The policy brief "Scaling up civil participation as a factor of stability in the South Caucasus: Opportunities in Azerbaijan alongside experience from Georgia" by Dr. Farda Asadov (Khazar University) compares the civil society situations in Georgia and Azerbaijan and discusses opportunities for the enhancement of the civil society sectors.
Farda Asadov (2016). "Scaling up civil participation as a factor of stability in the South Caucasus: Opportunities in Azerbaijan alongside experience from Georgia". KUB Policy Brief, April 2016. [Click here to download the file]
A. Gunya - Building the Institutional Capacity of Local Communities in the Northern Caucasus: Opportunities to Improve "Good" Communal Governance
Why is life in some villages stable and successful, while others have experienced emigration and increasing tensions and conflicts? Based on the extensive fieldwork in 30 villages of the Northern Caucasus, the policy brief discusses abilities of local communities to face challenges such as globalization, aggressive market-oriented policies, religious radicalism, etc. and addresses opportunities for improving local governance.
Gunya, Alexey (2016). "Building the Institutional Capacity of Local Communities in the Northern Caucasus: Opportunities to Improve "Good" Communal Governance". KBSU Policy Brief, April 2016. [Click here to download the file]
B. Gülketin Punsmann - EU-Azerbaijani relations: Thinking of a culture of human rights in a partnership relations
Produced by Dr. Burcu Gülketin Punsmann, Senior Researcher from the Ankara Policy Center, the policy brief elaborates on energy relations between the EU and Azerbaijan and its implications for the situation with human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Punsmann, Burcu (2016). "EU-Azerbaijani Relations: Thinking of a culture of human rights in a partnership relation", AMP Policy Brief, January 2016. [Click here to download the file]
A. Gunya, T. Tenov, A. Chechenov, M. Shogenov - Influence of various governance strategies on regulation of the conflicts and development of the North Caucasian republics
The article looks at the hybrid regime of local governance in the North Caucasus and analysis its symbiosis of formal and informal, traditional and innovative practices of regulation.
Alexey Gunya, Timur Tenov, Aslan Chechenov, Murat Shogenov - "Influence of various governance strategies on regulation of the conflicts and development of the North Caucasian republics". Scientific thought of the Caucasus, No. 3, 2015, 88-94 (In Russian). [Click here and here to download the file]
A. Gunya, T. Tenov, D. Gaunova - Modern local community in the North Caucasus and its relationship with the state
The article discusses the features of modern local communities in the North Caucasus and their relations with the state. Based on field research in 27 key villages of different region the North Caucasus, it is found that the effect of the state´s influence on local communities is dependent on the degree of centralization management in a particular region, the availability of strategic resources, the degree of coherence and resistance (or compliance) of the local community. Three types of modern relations between the state and the local community are distinguished: a) the state suppresses the local community, b) the state competes with the community strategic resources, c) they co-exist in parallel.
Alexey Gunya, Timur Tenov, Dinara Gaunova (2015). "Modern local community in the North Caucasus and its relationship with the state". Sociological and political sciences, No. 10/1, 2015, 62-70 (In Russian). [Click here to download the file]
F. Smolnik, A. Weiss and Y. Zabanova - Precarious balance. Turkey, Georgia and de-facto state Abkhazia
Over the past 25 years Turkey has built the relationships to eastern neighbours of the South Caucasus marked by conflict and cooperation. In the focus are economic and political interests, but also the history of the Ottoman Empire in the region plays a role. Ankara cultivates close relations with Georgia, however, also maintains informal contacts with the de-facto government of Tbilisi's breakaway Abkhazia region. For the social relations with Abkhazia Abkhaz diaspora in Turkey plays an important role. This involvement of Turkey is, however, a balancing act. Ankara has to consider not only Georgia's interests, but also Russia's ones. As a result, it puts Turkey in the role of a mediator in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.
Smolnik, Franziska, Weiss, Andrea and Yana Zabanova (2015). "Prekäre Balance. Die Türkei, Georgien und der De-facto Staat Abchasien", Osteuropa 7-10/2015, 407-426 (In German). [Click here to access the article]
K. Hoffmann - Society and State: The Local Level in Armenia and Azerbaijan
In Armenia and Azerbaijan the relationships between society and the state are distant. (Self-)government institutions at the local level do not reach out to society. Instead, they serve the interests of their ruling elites and provide no channel for the population to influence government's decisions on local issues. It leaves the population to pursue their own concerns through self-organisations or personal networks mainly.
Hoffmann, Katharina (2015). "Gesellschaft und Staat. Die Lokale Ebene in Armenien und Aserbaidschan", Osteuropa 7-10/2015, 321-334 (In German). [Click here to download the file].
U. Halbach and M. Isaeva - Dagestan: Russia's Most Troublesome Republic
Since 2014 the Ukraine conflict has overshadowed Russia's North Caucasus issues, both within the country and abroad. Yet on its Caucasian margins, the Russian state continues to find itself confronted with challenges that affect its internal security and stability as a multi-ethnic state. Dagestan, the largest of the Caucasian republics, has become a flashpoint between security forces and the armed insurgency during the past five years, while changes in Islamist leadership have made it the ideological and logistical centre of North Caucasian jihadism; in this respect it has in fact overtaken Chechnya. What impact did the Chechen wars have on neighbouring Dagestan? How has the religious "rebirth" since the end of the Soviet Union proceeded in this part of Russia, where Islam is more deeply rooted than anywhere elsewhere in the Federation? How does Dagestan's great ethnic diversity affect its political and social life? This study addresses these questions, exploring the problems that make Dagestan stand out as Russia's most troublesome republic.
Halbach, Uwe and Manarsha Isaeva (2015). "Dagestan: Russia's Most Troublesome Republic: Political and Religious Developments on the "Mountain of Tongues", SWP Research Paper, August 2015. [Click here to download the file]
T. Matosyan - Church as Civil Society? Recent Issues of Religion and Politics in Armenia
The Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) has experienced a revival in Armenia after the country's independence from the Soviet Union. In contrast, Armenia's post-Soviet civil society has remained weak. By definition, the church itself is part of civil society: it can represent the interests of people and promote civic participation. This article reflects whether the AAC has utilized her potential in civil society to assist Armenia's democratization. In particular, the article indicates how the AAC's strong ties with the state have so far prevented her from becoming a full-fledged member of civil society. It also identifies those spheres of activity where the AAC has nonetheless contributed to the formation of civil society in Armenia.
Matosyan, Tigran (2015). "Church as Civil Society? Recent Issues of Religion and Politics in Armenia", Caucasus Analytical Digest No 72, 29 April 2015. [Click here to download the file]
K. Rcheulishvili - A New Public Role of Religion? Recent Issues of Religion and Politics in Georgia
This essay discusses the discourse on the public role of religion in Georgia after the collapse of the communist regime. Particularly, it examines the Georgian Orthodox Church's contribution to national identity and new social values and norms. Thus, this essay assesses the role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in public opinion building despite the fact that democratic and liberal values to some extent conflict with traditional or/and religious values promoted by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Rcheulishvili, Ketevan (2015). "A New Public Role of Religion? Recent Issues of Religion and Politics in Georgia", Caucasus Analytical Digest No 72, 29 April 2015. [Click here to download the file]
K. Hoffmann, A. Melkonyan - Local Government in Armenia: Reforms with an Uncertain Outcome
In 2015 Armenia's government is pushing local government reforms in an effort to strengthen the country's lowest level of government, the communities. The ambition is to merge small communities into larger and, in theory, administratively more viable units. Although the Armenian government has yet to define core legal aspects of the consolidation reform, on May 17, 2015, it nevertheless launched referenda on the consolidation of selected communities in three Armenian regions. The majority of the communities have accepted the consolidation plans, but concerns prevail that this reform will have negative effects on the communities' financial resources and power. It remains uncertain whether the reform will strengthen or distort decentralization. However, if the reform does not come with substantial infrastructural investments, the greater geographical distance between the people and their local government bodies may result in a substantial loss of trust in the latter.
Hoffmann, Katharina and Arman Melkonyan (2015). "Local Government in Armenia: Reforms with an Uncertain Outcome", Caucasus Analytical Digest No 74, 30 June 2015. [Click here to download the file]
A. Gunya, T. Tenov, A. Chechenov, M. Shogenov - A Study of Stability and Instability in the Northern Caucasus: Features of a Methodological Approach
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.
Gunya, Alexey, Tenov, Timur, Shogenov, Murat and Aslan Chechenov (2014). "Stability and instability in the North Caucasus: methodological approach to the study of external and internal factors. Proceedings of the Kabardino-Balkarsk State University", Izvestiya Kabardino-Balkarskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, Volume 4, No. 2, 2014. [Click here to download the file]
U. Halbach - The Circassian Question: Russian Colonial History in the Caucasus and a Case of "Long-distance Nationalism"
On 21 May 2014 Circassians all over the world marked the 150th anniversary of the expulsion of their ancestors from their North Caucasian homeland. The links between this unresolved legacy of Russian colonial history and President Putin's prestigious Winter Olympics in Sochi have reinvigorated Circassian activism. While different objectives and methods coexist within the movement, the demand for acknowledgement of the wrongs inflicted on their forebears is shared by both the remaining Circassian population in the North Caucasus and Russia (about 700,000) and the worldwide diaspora (several million). What challenges does this present for Russia?
Halbach, Uwe (2014). "The Circassian Question: Russian Colonial History in the caucasus and a Case of Long-Distance Nationalism", SWP-Aktuell 50, July 2014. [Click here to download the file]