Baku. Photo: flickr/teuchterlad
Europe's new neighbourhood
Since 1999, ESI has been developing a distinctive form of socio-economic research in the Balkans and Turkey.
When we became engaged in the Caucasus in 2007, we realized that there is a shortage of analyses produced by outside institutions compared to other regions of Europe. What is produced is usually focused on unresolved ethnic crises or frozen conflicts. There are numerous policy issues in each of the three countries – concerning state (and administrative) weakness, uneven development and the unequal distribution and redistribution of resources – that deserve to be studied seriously.
It is vital for decision makers in the European Union to have a better understanding of developments in all three Southern Caucasus societies. Within the framework of our capacity building project and supported by the OSI Assistance Foundation, ESI therefore began to transfer its research approach to the Caucasus to better understand trends in these societies. By building local analytical capacity for empirical research we seek to help in tailoring new regional development policies.
Thus, in early 2007, the ESI Caucasus project was launched in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. ESI analysts Gerald Knaus, Nigar Göksel, Verena Knaus and Kristof Bender established contacts with think tanks, government officials and international institutions active in the region.
In July 2007, seminars on policy analysis and advocacy were held in all three republics.
In Azerbaijan (local analyst: Arzu Geybullayeva) ESI is undertaking research on the position of women and the impact of the recent oil-driven economic boom on their welfare across the country. In Georgia (local analysts: Ketevan Tsikhelashvili and Ivane Chkhikvadze, supported by ESI senior analyst Besa Shahini) ESI has set out to better understand the impact of the reforms undertaken since the Rose Revolution in late 2003. In Armenia (local analyst: Tigran Mkrtchyan) ESI is researching local development trends across the country. At the same time we are undertaking a larger research to better understand Turkish-Armenian relations.