CASCADE SIPRI/GFSIS Workshop: “Shifting conflict and security dynamics in the Caucasus: the role of regional powers”

29 April, 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) together with the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) organized a workshop ‘Shifting Conflict and Security Dynamics in the Caucasus: The Role of Regional Powers’ bringing together lCASCADE workshop Tbilisieading regional and international experts to identify recent conflict and security trends in the Caucasus.

Specifically, the workshop participants examined the thinking and policies of leading regional actors toward security and conflict issues in the Caucasus and the main drivers of their engagement. A particular theme of the discussions was the impact on regional stability of the intensification of confrontation between Russia, the Euro-Atlantic community and other regional powers in the Caucasus.

Increasingly, the conflicts of the Caucasus have come to be seen as part of a regional security challenge involving leading international actors (Russia, the US, the EU, Turkey, Iran) with the accompanying risk of regional and proxy warfare appearing in the region. More recently, elements of the Caucasian conflict complex appear to have broken out of the region, to merge with ongoing armed violence in Ukraine and the Middle East. Continue reading

CASCADE Panel at the 21th Annual World Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities

Panel  “The Security-democracy nexus in the Caucasus”

Harriman Institute, Columbia University, 15 April 2016

The annual convention of the ASN has been for many years a must-go for scholars and PhD students working on the post-Soviet space. A CASCADE panel on “The Security-democracy nexus in the Caucasus” gathering researchers from Work Packages 3, 4 and 7 took place on Friday 15th April.

Prof. Jean Radvanyi ,a geographer from the Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisations (INALCO, Paris), delivered a presentation based on fieldwork conducted on both sides of the Caucasus Range. Focusing on the prospects for regional development in impoverished, isolated and war-affected Daghestani and Georgian mountainous areas, J. Radvanyi analysed the current challenges faced by these regions. He asked whether recent legislation and public policies initiated by both central and local authorities could contribute to overcoming security problems and to tapping the agricultural, touristic and human potential of these areas.

Two PhD students from Jena University, both anthropologists, then presented their doctoral field research on migration and women solidarity issues in the Caucasus. Tamar Khutsishvili explored the role of credit system in fostering of solidarity groups in an Armenian village bordering Turkey (a place of huge male emigration), while Weronika Zmiejewski has been observing Georgian women migrants in Thessaloniki to understand how they mobilise local networks and keep strong social ties with their home country.

In her talk, ISIS and Dagestan’s Salafi community, Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Europe and Central Asia Project Director at International Crisis Group and member of Cascade WP7 team, delivered a very insightful analysis based on extensive field research in the North Caucasus and in Turkey. She convincingly underlined the close relationship between internal – i.e. authoritarian and repressive policies in Dagestan and the Chechen Republic- and external factors – i.e. the rise of ISIS in the wake of wars in Iraq and Syria – in recent developments in the North Caucasus conflict. On the basis of this analysis, she recently authored an ICG report on the exportation of North Caucasus conflict to Syria. (available here)

The presence of other scholars (some of whom will attend CASCADE final conference in Brussels) offered an opportunity to exchange views on developments in the Caucasus and discuss further cooperation.

“The Balance Strikes Back: Power, Perceptions, and Ideology in Georgian Foreign Policy, 1992–2014″

Article by Dr. Kevork Oskanian, Foreign Policy Analysis

DOI: orw010 First published online: 11 April 2016
Tbilisi’s recent foreign policy presents analysts working from a balance-of-power perspective with something of a puzzle: with Russia very much the regionally dominant power, against the predictions of structural-systemic theories, small state Georgia has ended up balancing against, rather than bandwagoning with, great power Moscow. As a result, domestic, ideological explanations that implausibly ignore or minimize interstate considerations of power have predominated in analyses of Tbilisi’s foreign policy. In response, this essay examines Georgia’s post-Soviet foreign policies from a neoclassical realist theoretical viewpoint, combining systemic, balance-of-power and domestic ideological factors: throughout the period under review, Tbilisi’s policies were thus due to ideologically conditioned perceptions of shifting power-political realities in its neighborhood, with an ideological adherence to liberal norms playing a particularly important role in distorting these perceptions during the Saakashvili administration. Through this combination of power and ideology, neoclassical realism ends up providing a more comprehensive and continuous account of Tbilisi’s shifting policies since 1992 than either domestic or alternative realist frameworks, like balance-of-threat theory, or omnibalancing; as an important implication, Georgia’s, and other former Soviet states’ continued pro-Western orientation will depend as much on their perceptions of the West’s continued commitment to regional power projection as on domestic ideological preferences.
The full version is available at:


“Consequences of Economic and Social Transformation Policies on the North Caucasus”

New CASCADE Working Paper.

By Prof. Vladimir Kolosov, Dr. Olga Vendina, Dr. Anton Gritsenko, Dr. Olga Glezer, Dr. Alexander Panin, Dr. Alexander Sebentsov  and Dr. Maria Zotova

Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The North Caucasus is Russia’s most unstable region. It is characterised by ethnopolitical and territorial conflicts, economic crises, social turbulence, and growing Islamic influence. Processes that are under way in the North Caucasian republics are described in terms of both “modernisation” and “de-modernisation”. The region’s development is a key priority on the agenda of the federal and regional authorities. At the same time, their opinions on opportunities and ways for development differ significantly. Practically all regional elites emphasise the uniqueness of “their” republics, and the federal authorities, on the contrary, strive to depart from the asymmetry of relations, seeing the solution to the problem in a wider use of unified and politically neutral approaches to development. This working paper attempts to evaluate the results of administrative efforts to develop the regions of the North Caucasian Federal District (NCFD). The authors focus mainly on the analysis of processes that adapt the undertaken reforms to regional specifics and on the symbiosis of the results of self-organisation of the population and federal and regional novations. The block of stories related to the administrative policy in the North Caucasus follows a brief analysis of the demographic situation in the region. The latter is viewed as a challenge, which simultaneously creates opportunities for development and amplifies social instability.

The full text of the working paper is available here: CASCADE D4.1


“Security and democracy in the Caucasus”

New CASCADE Working Paper

Kevork Oskanian and Derek Averre, University of Birmingham

How do we understand the security problems of the Caucasus region and their root causes? Why has democratisation in the states and separatist entities in that region proved so difficult to achieve, despite the efforts of the EU to engage with local actors? What is the nature of the causal link between democracy and security, and how do external actors go about formulating policy? On the basis of an investigation into the existing literature on security and democracy, this working paper aims to provide a conceptual framework for understanding intra-state and regional inter-state security challenges in the Caucasus. A key focus will be to conceptualise the link between security and the domestic political practices of decision-makers in the Caucasus states/separatist territories.

The full text is available here: CASCADE D2.2

“The South Caucasus and the EU: Quo Vadis?”

 CASCADE seminar, Brussels, 3 March 2016


The seWP9 2minar ‘The South Caucasus and the European Union: Quo Vadis?’, organised as a closed event as part of CASCADE WP9, took place on 3 March in Brussels. The seminar was opened by Anne Nielsen, CASCADE’s project officer at DG Research of the European Commission.WP9 1

During the seminar, CASCADE researchers presented their findings on how the EU and its policies are perceived in the three Caucasus countries and break-away regions.

WP9 3


They also delivered policy recommendations on how EU policiescan be improved across the region.

Call for papers – CASCADE’s final conference, October 2016

This international conference will be organised as part of the EU-FP7 CASCADE project (www. It will critically re-examine the link between security and democratisation in the Caucasus, in a context of growing authoritarianism and new protest movements, as well as conflict transformation resulting from broader political upheavals in the wider neighbourhood. This re-examination will be informed by a combination of macro- and micro-approaches.

Paper proposals (250 words) together with a short bio (100 words) should be submitted by 15 April 2016. The authors of accepted proposals will be notified by May 20th, 2016.

The conference will take place in Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles) on 20 and 21 October 2016.

The detailed call for proposals can be found here: CASCADE final conference – call for proposals final



CASCADE is recruiting!

WP8 – The Caucasus and the Wider Neighbourhood
1 or 2 Researcher positions available to conduct research and prepare deliverables for the CASCADE project in cooperation with the scientific coordinator and FMSH departments.

WP10 – Dissemination and Outreach
1 or 2 Dissemination and Communication manager(s) positions available. They will be required to handle the dissemination activities of the CASCADE project in cooperation with the scientific coordinator and FMSH departments
Click here for complete details.

“Energy security in the South Caucasus: views from the region”

CASCADE working paper.

Leila Alieva and Natalia Shapovalova (Editors)
Co-authors: Vahan Asatryan, Murman Margvelashvili and Jeyhun Veliyev

The South Caucasus is often depicted as the main doorway to the energy-rich Caspian region in the energy security narratives of the European Union and of other Western actors in the region. But what are the views from the South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – concerning their own energy security? This CASCADE working paper seeks to shed light on energy security notions from South Caucasus governments and energy companies, as well as of citizens and consumers. It finds that there are significant differences in the perceptions of the different actors in the energy sector within each South Caucasus country that could lead to political conflicts over energy security strategies.

The working paper can be downloaded here: CASCADE D8.3 Working paper Energy Security


“Russia and energy security in the South Caucasus”

By Konstantin Golub, Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences

For Russia, as for many other energy-exporting countries, energy security is mainly analysed in terms of security of demand and security of transit points.

In this context, the paper examines the role of the South Caucasus for Russia’s energy security (in terms of either threats or opportunities). It also analyses the way in which Russia views its contribution to in the South Caucasus.

Russia and Energy Security in the South Caucasus