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Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia relations

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SEnECA (Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia relations)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

The relations to Central Asia (CA) are an important element of the changing geopolitical setting the EU has been facing for some years now. SEnECA’s overall aim was to strengthen and energize the relations between the EU and CA over the project’s two-year duration and beyond. To do so, the consortium, included all five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).

SEnECA has established best practices for joint research in a multinational network and developed a policy roadmap to give expert advice for implementing key aspects of the new 2019 EU Central Asia strategy (impact in politics). Furthermore, the project has identified ways to promote the region among a wider public through events, workshops, conferences and social media and gather input for future cooperation (impact in society). Besides that, SEnECA has connected stakeholders from key audiences in politics, science and society. In particular, new relations between EU and Central Asian researchers were forged (impact in research).
SEnECA has sought to enhance connections by linking relevant actors, improve policy measures by defining (new) priorities and giving recommendations, increase awareness of Central Asia by promoting its importance to EU stakeholders and the wider public, and strengthen capacities in research and higher education in Central Asia.

Impact in research:
The SEnECA Research Network was established for European researchers working on Central Asia and Central Asian academics in European Studies. The platform is to link researchers in the long term, thus facilitating future scientific cooperation, helping policy-makers improve the EU’s research policy and strengthening research capacities in the region.
The researchers included in the SEnECA Researcher Database (over 300) form the basis of the SEnECA Research Network that has been brought together in person at SEnECA events. In addition, the SEnECA website and social media channels were successfully used as communication platforms.
Furthermore, the SEnECA Agenda for Future Research Cooperation has been developed, featuring recommendations on improving research cooperation between the EU and the region. The Long-term Communication Strategy, giving recommendations on speaking about EU-Central Asia relations in the public sphere, has also been spread via all SEnECA channels.

Impact in politics:
By increasing the receptiveness of decision-makers and stakeholders and stressing the relevance of Central Asia to EU politics, SEnECA raised awareness of the EU’s Central Asia policy. Linking the SEnECA Research Network with the SEnECA Stakeholder Network will give policy-makers access to sources of policy advice, also in the long term. In total, 521 stakeholders from different fields in politics, business and civil society were identified. Based on SEnECA’s inclusive approach to demand-driven policy advice, all stakeholders were constantly involved through interviews, requesting input on project activities and invitations to SEnECA events. Using these insights, a Stakeholder Analysis was conducted categorising stakeholders according to their power and interest. The EU Special Representative for Central Asia participated in the SEnECA conferences in Riga, Almaty and Brussels. The final conference in November 2019 brought together various stakeholders—ambassadors from all five CA republics, politicians, researchers and representatives of civil society—and offered the opportunity to discuss the future of EU-Central Asia relations.

Impact in society:
The project connects the SEnECA Research Network and the SEnECA Stakeholder Network with journalists, media and civil society actors that act as multipliers to promote the relevance of Central Asia among EU citizens. The SEnECA Communication Plan is intended to improve communication on Central Asia, thus achieving impact and raising awareness in the wider public. This was facilitated by SEnECA’s corporate identity and the fact that the project website is available in Russian and thus accessible to more recipients. In addition, Policy Advice Training was conducted at the workshop in Almaty and the workshop in Brussels.
Besides mapping and analysing the current state of relations between Central Asia, the EU and other world powers with interests in the region, SEnECA proposed future priorities for EU policies and implementation recommendations in the SEnECA Policy Roadmap. Nine mapping papers (SEnECA policy papers phase 1) describe the current relations between the five Central Asian states and the EU (on the supranational and national levels), other Asian states, and external powers such as Russia, the United States and China. The mapping process was based on relevant literature and focused on political and security relations, economic and trade relations as well as relations in culture and civil society. Three analysis papers (SEnECA policy papers phase 2) explore the current state of scientific cooperation between the EU and Central Asia, the EU’s Central Asia policy implementation and its perception in the region. Based on the results from phases 1 and 2, three further policy papers with recommendations on future priorities in scientific cooperation and implementation of the EU’s Central Asian policy (SEnECA policy papers phase 3) were published along with the new 2019 EU Strategy on Central Asia. Besides a forecast on the EU–Central Asia relations in 2030, these papers evaluate the new EU Strategy on Central Asia, provide specific recommendations for its implementation and an overall reflection and assessment. The expertise is mainly derived from semi-structured interviews with partners from the network and a scorecard highlighting the most important tasks of the strategy. The policy papers have been published with open access (DOI with CC BY NC license) and promoted via SEnECA’s social media accounts and website (incl. easily accessible infographics). All SEnECA papers and deliverables are publicly accessible.
Ultimately, SEnECA members wrote 22 blog posts on various aspects of EU-Central Asia relations. All in all, SEnECA’s successful presence in social media attracted 1278 followers. Moreover, 16 news articles were published on the website and eight newsletters were sent. The project results page reached over 125,000 views in total.
The SEnECA Photo Exhibition featuring 65 photos from “Daily lives in Central Asia” at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels in April 2019 was a special outreach to the wider public with over 200 visitors.
By the end of the two-year project, twelve consortium members from think tanks, universities and NGOS in Europe and all Central Asian republics had built a Trans-European and Central Asian network consisting of research institutions in 41 European, Central Asian and other Asian countries.
All in all, SEnECA created a sound basis for working on the future of EU–Central Asia relations regarding the areas of research, politics and society: the Agenda for Future Research Cooperation serves as a starting point for a long-lasting impact on joint research between the two regions. The recommendations given in the Policy Roadmap will help implement key aspects of the 2019 EU Central Asia Strategy. And the Long-term Communication Strategy offers helpful guidance on communicating about and around Central Asia.