The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) in close cooperation with its long-lasting partner Europe-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) throughout 2018-19 supported the latter’s fellowship programme by hosting and training so far three groups of young Central Asian fellows in policy-oriented research and outreach in Brussels and it will continue to do so in 2019-20 as well. The fourth group, composed by Muslimbek Buriev (Tajikistan), Bermet Zhumakadyr kyzy (Kyrgyzstan) and Zhypariza Zhumagazieva (Kyrgyzstan) and a Ukrainian fellow Taras Yemchura visited Brussels from the 30th of September until the 4th of October to have meetings with representatives of EU institutions and experts dealing with Central Asia.
The fellows started their week with an intense 3-hour training session by Tika Tsertsvadze (IPHR Advocacy Director/Gender Adviser) and Samuel Doveri Vesterbye (ENC Managing Director) on how the EU works, inter-institutional cooperation, the EU’s foreign policy, EU-Central Asia strategy and advocacy-related interactive tasks.
The following days the fellows had the chance to meet and exchange views with desk officers from the Central Asia Division at the European External Action Service (EEAS) and advisers from the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Amb. Peter Burian’s office. Among other things they discussed about the new EU Strategy for Central Asia, the EPCA with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and the role of the region in the EU’s sustainable connectivity strategy. On the latter topic, the meeting with connectivity advisers, Asad Beg and Marcin Kacperek and in-house experts on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Eva Gross, provided interesting views on the pros and cons for Central Asia and Afghanistan.
In addition to unlocking the workings of the EU, our fellows find out ways to access funding for civil society organisations. European Endowment for Democracy (EED), a grant-giving organisation supported by EU member-states, hosted our young fellows and informed them about their mandate, how they operate and what kind of projects they finance.
Along with their networking activities, Bermet, Zhypariza and Muslimbek presented their research – part of their fellowship programme – in order to get feedback and guidance to the Central Asia Coordination Group in Brussels, composed by NGOs/think tanks such as, OSEPI, IPHR, ILGA Europe and Human Rights Watch. Bermet had the chance to discuss her research project about privacy and security and the impact of Chinese-imported monitoring technology in Kyrgyzstan with Maria Karampela, Doctoral Researcher on Data, GDPR and Privacy at IT University of Copenhagen.
The agenda included among other things a short tour at the European Parliament and a brief meeting with newly elected MEP Niklas Nienaß with the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and DCAS member.
The group continues the work based in Groningen and will be back to Brussels during the week of 11-15 November in order to present their research findings during a closed doors (invitation only) roundtable discussion at the European Endowment for Democracy on the 12th of November. Save the date and stay tuned for more ENC research, events and podcasts regarding developments in Central Asia.