Taking into account the need for a more intensive and properly coordinated research in the field of Central Asian Studies and the need for closer links to EU policy making, a network of European researchers will be created which, in cooperation with researchers from Central Asian countries, will:
- through mapping the current state of affairs in the field of Central Asian Studies in Europe and European Studies in Central Asia, recommend relevant new forms and priorities for future EU scientific cooperation in social sciences and the humanities with the region;
- through mapping the current state of political, economic, trade, cultural and any other relations between the EU and its Member States with Central Asian countries as well as between Central Asian countries and countries in the rest of Asia, and analysing results of the existing measures and tools supporting them, recommend future priorities for European policy making. These recommendations should be prepared in close cooperation with any other relevant European and Central Asian stakeholders (e.g. local, regional and state authorities, not-for-profit sectors, representatives of businesses, etc.);
- prepare an awareness-raising dissemination and communication strategy for the promotion of Central Asia and its role for Europe, which could be used by a variety of stakeholders (e.g. education, media, EU public sphere in general).
Any consortium submitting a proposal to this call should ensure a balanced representation of partners from countries in Central Asia.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
In-spite of its undisputable importance as a region located at a strategic crossroad to the Far East, as a rich reservoir of natural resources and as an area of traditional trade relations with Europe, Central Asia has been rather neglected by the major global players in the post-Soviet era. Only in more recent years, the political and economic developments in the five countries of the region - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - have received more attention. Challenges related to weak governments, abuse of power and corruption, divided societies, border disputes and ethnic tensions have led to increasing political and religious militancy and the creation of extremist groups which potentially represent non-negligible suppliers of forces to the radical political and religious movements in the neighbouring countries. Today's relevance of Central Asia in general and to the trade, security and development strategies of the European Union[[See “The European Union and Central Asia: The New Partnership in Action” http://eeas.europa.eu/central_asia/docs/2010_strategy_eu_centralasia_en.pdf]] and other world powers in particular is, however, not reflected in the level of attention which the region is given from a scientific, social sciences and humanities point of view. Not only are Central Asian Studies less of a priority for European research centres, but European researchers in this field are also not sufficiently coordinated and their work is not adequately linked to policymaking.
The coordination and support measures of this action will contribute to improving the ties of the EU with the region and countries of Central Asia in all socio-economic, political, security as well as cultural and scientific areas. Its findings will primarily be focused on the formulation of short- and long-term priorities for EU policies towards the region, as well as on proposing methods for their achievement. They will be further used for education and media purposes and thus contribute to raising awareness among EU citizens of today’s reality of the countries of Central Asia and of their importance for Europe. By creating a network of European researchers in the field of Central Asian Studies and by proposing new forms of cooperation with counterparts in Central Asia, the action will reinforce mutual research ties between the EU and Central Asian countries and establish a robust basis for their sustained collaboration.