Experts from Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan met in Astrakhan to discuss the overall agenda, goals and objectives, the range of topics to be discussed in a multilateral format of the new expert association – Caspian Expert Club. This community will have a huge potential, which can be the foundation for the formation of a new model of “Caspian cooperation”. This idea has become a leitmotif of the first meeting of the Caspian Expert Club.
Andrey Syzranov, head of the Center of International and Public Policy Research “Caspian-Eurasia”, opened the meeting of experts. “The idea of creating a new platform for dialogue was proposed at the Second Caspian Media Forum recently held in Astrakhan. Representatives of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan unanimously supported the idea of forming a permanent expert center in which it would be possible to conduct a joint study of the most topical issues of the Caspian region. Turkmenistan and Iran expressed interest in the work on joint expert projects. Our task is to work together to identify issues that have real, practical value for the Caspian states, to prepare a plan of joint intelligent products for a wide range of issues oriented on the subject of education, and humanitarian problems. However, this does not mean that “eternal” issues of the Caspian region – environment, safety, settlement of the legal status – will stay out of expert sight. The expert community, in particular, in close relationship with the media, should contribute to the formation of a common agenda for the countries of the Caspian region and the formation of a common information space”.
Political observer, editor in chief of “Astrakhan-24” TV channel Alexander Vasilyev told about the existence of the editorial staff for the Caspian states on the basis of the channel, the main purpose of which is to create a multi-level communication network between the countries of the region. “The editorial office is now in its second year of operation, but according to the results of its operations, it became clear that modern media require relevant agenda, which must be formed by experts. That’s why we need the Caspian Expert Club”.
Ali Hajizade, head of the “Greater Middle East” project, expert-political analyst from Azerbaijan, noted that the information on the life of the region in the Caspian states themselves have long moved to the background due to the active work of the European and Middle Eastern media. So, one of the challenges for the new expert club is to make local and regional news relevant and demanded. “I work in the media and see that people from the United States, European countries who are interested in the Caspian region, often simply cannot find relevant and reliable information on the environment, economy, and geopolitics of the region. And if as a result of expert discussions we will manage to fill this gap by providing those who are interested with quality content, it will be a significant contribution of our club”.
Head of the Division of Geopolitics and Regional Studies at the Library of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Leader of the Nation, Yerzhan Saltybaev noted that people living in the neighboring border areas of the Caspian region are so similar, but know little about each other. “Creating a common expert platform – it is only the first step, because in order to have a real community of experts with a lively effective communication, one meeting is not enough. We have a lot of work ahead”.
Darkhan Ualikhanov, director of “Mangistau-Media” LLP, stressed that the Caspian Expert Club requires the most serious approach to the definition of areas of responsibility for each region and the drafting of the general Charter. “Formal meetings do not form the areas of responsibility, therefore the meetings of the expert community should be legally registered. Then there will be the effect. Even now, in the first meeting, it is necessary to discuss specific issues and possible solutions. But most importantly, we need to interest authorities, the business community, the media in our assessments and analytics, and then the work of the experts will benefit all of society”.
Marina Zaitseva, Head for Communications and Mass Media Agency of Astrakhan region, proposed to hold one of the meetings of the Caspian Expert Club as part of the next Caspian Media Forum. “I, as an organizer of the Caspian Media Forum, concluded that the expert discussions are interesting for all. Therefore I propose to hold a meeting of the Caspian Expert Club at the next media forum. This could be a panel discussion, roundtable – model of work can be discussed, and we will be happy to add it to the action plan”.
Head of Department of media relations and public organizations of the Special Economic Zone “Lotus” in Astrakhan region Dmitry Averkin put forward the idea of creating a separate economic direction within the framework of the Caspian Expert Club, experts of which would study the potential of economic cooperation between the Caspian littoral states. “This will contribute to the effective work of the Special Economic Zone for the benefit of all countries in the region”.
Astrakhan political analyst Eduard Zakharyash identified key strategic and application areas for future work of the Caspian Expert Club, noted that its framework must include sections or areas on specific issues.
Ilya Toropitsyn, Head of Information-analytical and Organizational Work Department of the Ministry of International and Foreign Economic Relations of the Astrakhan region, assured that the executive authorities of the Astrakhan region will lend their full support to the club. He also stressed that the expert studies will be the impetus for the development of economic partnership.
Kazakhstan expert, project coordinator at «Caspian Bridge» Information and Analytical Center Rustem Buzhenov proposed the creation of a common platform in virtual space for communication between the experts of the Caspian Club. “It will be a platform for exchange of opinions online. We are all in different cities and countries, and now, in the age of modern technology, there is no need to overcome hundreds and thousands of kilometers for scientific communication”.
At the end of the meeting moderator Andrey Syzranov invited participants to start working on joint analytical reports, in particular, the report on “Scenarios for the development of the Caspian region until 2020: energy, security, environmental, humanitarian sphere”. The idea was supported, and the experts decided that it would be appropriate to hold a presentation of the project in Astrakhan in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Astrakhan Gubernia in 2017.