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

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Scenarios of instability in the Caucasus

A study examined sources of stability and instability in the Caucasus, thereby evaluating the implications for military, political, economic and societal security.


The Caucasus is a region perceived as fragmented in respect to both its geography and society. Its diversity is multifaceted, comprising numerous ethno-linguistic groups and more than 100 languages. Various religions and traditions shape the region. An EU-funded project, ISSICEU (Intra-and inter-societal sources of instability in the Caucasus and EU opportunities to respond), examined this conflict-prone region. Twenty-five scholars from eight universities in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey combined deductive and inductive research. The inspiration for their methods stemmed from those in the fields of economics, political sciences, anthropology, sociology, geography and the study of religion. ISSICEU researched not only the sources of instability but also stability in the Caucasus with the aim to contribute to an alternative and more adequate framing of security-related developments in this region. They looked at frictions at the local level of the Caucasus societies as well as civic participation practices and discourse. The influence of societal players from Iran and Turkey on civic participation and economic dependencies was also examined. Researchers found that tensions over resources and power at local level are on the rise due to the recent economic crisis. A lack in governance mechanisms that can mediate between people and the state is evident. Formal and informal societal bodies that could act as mediators to help avoid destabilizing conflict are undermined by the dominant central rule. Dissemination of the results involved 14 public panel discussions covering research topics such as local governance, religion, civic participation, secessionist conflicts and external influences to the Caucasus. A video was produced and made available on the project website. The work will have potential impact on researchers and scholars of the Caucasus.


Caucasus, religion, ISSICEU, local governance, civic participation

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