Caspian Brand: Tourism, Media, and Expert Dialogue
The International Spacebridge “Caspian Region as Our Common Home: Strategies to Form Efficient Model of Single Information Space” took place on October 26, 2016 at sites of Astrakhan (Russia) and Almaty (Kazakhstan).
The place and the role of information technologies in the development of humanitarian cooperation between the Caspian littoral countries, the current state and development prospects of the local media resources, innovative approaches in mass media activities, the role of mass media and the expert community in image-making of the Caspian Littoral Region – all these issues, as well as a number of other issues, have been under consideration at the event.
The spacebridge was arranged jointly by the Center of Eurasian Political Research of Astrakhan State University (Astrakhan, Russia) and by the Eurasian Monitoring Center of Analytical Research (Almaty, Kazakhstan). One should remark that the presentation of the Caspian Expert Club – a new format of research analytical interaction between expert communities of the Caspian littoral countries – took place the same day.
In his speech, Dr. Andrey Syzranov, Chief of the Center of Eurasian Political Research of ASU, concerned the prospects of the new expert association; he remarked that members of the Expert Club suggested streamlining of their joint work by dividing the Club’s activities into operational sections in Geopolitics, Economy, Ecology, Security, Tourism, and Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. Dr. Syzranov pointed out that it is crucial for outcomes of the joint research activities to be of hands-on character and be interesting for potential consumers of analytical products – legal authorities, business, mass media, public organizations, etc. In particular, the participants of the Caspian Expert Club were proposed to initiate joint activities to prepare the joint analytical report “Caspian Region Development Scenarios to 2020: Energy, Security, Ecology, Humanitarian Sphere”. Dr. Syzranov also remarked that development of regional information relations is already being discussed at the Club actively. “The Club participants came up with an idea to set up an integrated site in social networks in the short-term run; in a longer term, we’re planning to establish a single information hub”, he said.
Mr. Alexander Vassilyev, Editor-in-Chief of the Astrakhan 24 TV Channel and a political observer, also backed establishment of an information resource to share and exchange information. “It’s important for the Caspian Expert Club to take part in formation of agenda for mass media”, he pointed out.
Mr. Erzhan Saltybaev, Head of the Geopolitics and Regional Research Office of the Library of the First President of Republic of Kazakhstan – the Leader of the Nation, emphasized productivity of expert interaction in particular regional fields. “Kazakhstan has several fields to cooperate. The Caspian Littoral Region is one of them. I’d like to remark that unfortunately, Kazakhstan has no profound expertise concerning the Caspian Sea, and the number of our experts competent in this field is tiny”, he stated.
Mr. Darkhan Ualikhanov, Director of the Mangistau-Media LLC, pointed out that an open format of activities is the necessary condition to provide successful operation of the Caspian Expert Club. “It may include any research and analytical centers, which already specialized in the Caspian Region: first, not to let us “get unfocused”, to make us move on together as a single community without duplicating each other’s activities; second, to let the established think tanks make activities of the new expert association substantial and solid”, Mr. Ualikhanov said.
Mr. Alibek Tazhibaev, Director of the Eurasian Monitoring Center of Analytical Research, suggested optimizing activities of the Expert Club by diving it into projects. “Project work implies fixed deadlines, as well as obligatory and thorough reports. No doubt, it’d discipline the project participants. I believe if we distribute experts in different projects depending of their specializations and spheres of research interests, we’ll be able to achieve a high level of output and efficiency”, he stated.
Mr. Eduard Poletaev, Chief of the Public Fund “World of Eurasia” in Almaty (Kazakhstan), emphasized the role of mass media and the expert community in image making of the Caspian Littoral Region. “The problem is that the think tanks producing information related to this Region are located far away from it, except for Baku. In Kazakhstan, they are located in Almaty and in Astana; in Russia, they operate in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg. Consequently, the Caspian issues are regarded as provincial problems, which does not stimulate innovative ICT and expert communities to get involved in discussion of those issues. Such approaches must definitely be changed”, he pointed out.
Ms. Lidia Timofeenko-Parkhomchik, Senior Researcher of the Eurasian Research Institute (Almaty, Kazakhstan), agreed with Mr. Erzhan Saltybaev that researches related to the Caspian Region are of low priority in Kazakhstan and that there are very few experts who are competent in this sphere and who represent large national analytical centers. “That’s why I think it’ll be uneasy to select the right Kazakhstani experts for the Club. In Azerbaijan, the situation is definitely different: issues related to the Caspian Sea are of top priority there. In Turkmenistan, the expert community focuses on Ecology. As for our Iranian colleagues, we have a language barrier with them; I’d also remark that they are very reluctant to translate their papers into English”, she pointed out. Speaking about the prospects of uniting media resources of the Caspian littoral countries and creation of a single information space, Ms. Timofeenko-Parkhomchik remarked that the common language of communication is the key factor. Besides, according to her, it is quite difficult to create a single information space in the region without forming a distinct and clear determination of its boundaries.
In conclusion, the experts agreed to continue the multi-format dialogue by involving different sites, with the Caspian Expert Club definitely playing the key role among them.