Intra-and Inter-Societal Sources of Instability in the Caucasus and EU Opportunities to Respond (ISSICEU)

Forschung über den Kaukasus: Eine fragmentierte Landschaft

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ISSICEU is an international research project led by Prof. Dirk Lehmkuhl and Dr. Katharina Hoffmann from the Center for Governance and Culture at the University of St. Gallen. It stems from a successful bid for a call of the European Commission on “Security and democracy in the neighborhood: The case of the Caucasus”. The project is funded by the Framework Seven program of the European Union with 1.6 Mio Euro and involves a consortium of eight partners.

The project explores four key issues:

  • “hybrid political regimes”, i.e. the role of hybrid institutions in intra-societal frictions and their impact on regional political configurations,
  • “civic participation”, i.e. how practices of civic participation are shaped by the interplay of societal organisations, religious and state actors ,
  • “economic interdependencies”, i.e. patterns of economic exchange flows and interdependencies in the broader Caucasus region, and
  • “external actors”, i.e. influences from the geographical neighborhoods with a particular focus on Turkey and Iran.

By evaluating the resulting implications for military, political, economic and societal security, the project team will develop scenarios concerning potential future security developments. On the basis of its extensive research ISSICEU also aims at providing policy recommendations on opportunities for regional and European policy-makers to contribute to long-term stability in the Caucasus societies as well as the entire region.
As an interdisciplinary endeavor ISSICEU is made up of political scientists, economists, anthropologists, human geographers and scholars of religious studies. It comparatively analyzes sub-regions and studies aspects of inter-societal relations. Cases will cover the entire Caucasus region, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the North Caucasus republics of the Russian Federation Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia and Chechnya, as well as the neighboring countries Turkey and Iran. ISSICEU will also discuss/consider/reflect on the secessionist territories in the South Caucasus.
ISSICEU has started as an international, collaborative research project in January 2014. The Center for Governance and Culture GCE has initiated the project and coordinates the research activities of the consortium formed of experts based in Germany and Switzerland as well as researchers from the Caucasus and adjacent countries. In terms of research the GCE contributes with a study on hybridity in communal governance in the South Caucasus and Turkey and with research on Russia's influence on the South Caucasus.
In addition to the University of St. Gallen the research consortium consists of the following partners:
GeoWel Research (Georgia)
Kabardino-Balkarian State University (Russian Federation)
Khazar University (Azerbaijan)
Russian State University for the Humanities (Russian Federation)
SWP - German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Germany)
APM - Ankara Politikalar Merkezi (Turkey)
University of Fribourg (Switzerland)

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 613004.

ISSICEU survey

The ISSICEU survey is original in covering the South Caucasus and parts of the North Caucasus. It combines questions on attitudes towards civic activism with an assessment of the respondents’ direct involvement in such activities. The survey further covers attitudes towards religion and habits to practice one’s religion. These data allow to explore the impact of religion on attitudes towards and practices of civic participation.

The data will in 2017 be available for scholarly studies. For accessing the data please contact: Katharina Hoffmann

 Survey Sections:

  • Religion
  • Trust
  • Electoral and Political Participation
  • De Facto Civic Participation
  • Justification of Civic Participation
  • Local and External NGOs and International Organisations: form, function, trust
  • Demographic Data

Caucasus Regions Covered: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the North Caucasus Republics of the Russian Federation Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachevo-Cherkessia (not covering secessionist regions in the South Caucasus)

Data collection period:

October-Novmber 2014 Karachevo-Cherkessia
January-February 2015 Kabardino-Balkaria
February-June 2015 Armenia
February-June 2015 Georgia
May-July 2015 Azerbaijan

Survey Sample: 1000 in each South Caucasus republic, 490 Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachevo-Cherkessia respectively

Survey Methodology: Standardised “face-to-face” interviews on paper in households in the respective local language

Data Format: SAV, CSV, XLSX

Surveying companies:

Armenia Caucasus Research Resource Center –Armenia, Yerevan
Azerbaijan International Center for Social Research – Azerbaijan, Baku
Georgia Caucasus Research Resource Center – Georgia, Tbilisi
North Caucasus Kabardino-Balkarian State University –Russia, Nalchik