Alexander Wolters: We are interested in what Russian researchers think on regional integration

Dr. Alexander Wolters, Director of the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, gave an interview to press service of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Foundation.

- What issues are of most relevance for the OSCE Academy in Bishkek at present?

- In terms of academic topics, security is considered to be the most important issue. Security problems are becoming more diversified and multi-faceted. In the past we have looked into “hard security” issues, such as ethnic clashes and violent conflicts. Now we focus upon human security, cybersecurity, trying to define unconventional security issues.

Another important topic for the Academy is Afghanistan. It had been addressed before, but now it is becoming more and more interesting for the academic society of Central Asia. First of all, for the international relations experts, who see Afghanistan not as a security problem, but as a potential partner, who can help to increase security in the region. The majority of applications we receive now are actually from Afghanistan, which makes the Academy, in terms of the student body, quite focused on Afghanistan.

Our economics and politics master's programmes also pursue issues related to Central Asia's governments. We consider best trajectories for reforming the government and efficient ways for developing the region. We analyze the role of pro-active civil societies in the region's countries, particularly in Kirgizstan, the ways to involve them in decision-making processes. On the one hand, the countries are liberalizing now, developing their market economies, on the other hand — social patterns are still greatly influenced by the past impressions.

- Speaking of Afghanistan, what opportunities open to the Afghani graduates of the Academy?

- There are several career prospects: they can return for civil service in their native country, work for international and civil society organizations, go into private business, or proceed to research degree. Besides, there is a number of activities for our alumni aimed at sustaining connections with the representatives of the Central Asian region.

- What issues are of most interest to the Academy in terms of cooperation with Russian experts?

We would like to know the view of Russian researchers on regional integration: how the integration processes are being perceived and studied in Russia. Also, Russian perspective on the processes in Kabul, which has traditionally been an area of interest for Moscow.

It would be interesting to hear the opinion of Russian experts on different international actors in regional processes of transformation and integration.

*Note: OSCE Academy in Bishkek is an educational project established by OSCE in Central Asia in 2012, with the mission of promoting regional cooperation.

Translation into English by Natalie Ageyeva