10 April 2007
ESI in Baku - Exploring the ground for empirical research in Azerbaijan

As ESI starts to expand its focus to the three South Caucasus republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Gerald Knaus and Nigar Göksel travelled to Baku from 10 to 14 April to develop an understanding of the state of research and analysis on the rapid change the country is experiencing.

Gerald Knaus gave a presentation, organized by the Diplomatic Academy, to a group of 30-40 diplomats working at the foreign ministry addressing the question "Is Turkey ever going to join the EU?". He discussed the EU's enlargement policy, Turkey's image, and the country's ongoing transformation as the accession process continues as well as the prospects of European involvement in Azerbaijan.

The three day program in Baku included meetings with local organizations such as the Economic Research Centre and the European Integration Committee, as well as representatives of international institutions such as the OSCE, UNDP, Worldbank and USAID. How the boom in Baku will translate into improved living conditions for Azeris living in various corners of the country, and how the regional development experiences of Europe might offer insight and inspiration were among the issues discussed.

Over the past seven years, ESI has been developing a distinctive form of socio-economic research in the Balkans and Turkey, which is widely recognised and respected by policy makers in the region and the international community.

Within the framework of our capacity building project and supported by the OSI Assistance Foundation, ESI is planning to transfer this successful model to the Caucasus to better understand trends in these societies. By building local analytical capacity for empirical research ESI seeks to help in tailoring new regional development policies.