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university of tampere: faculty of social sciences: research: tampere peace research institute (tapri): research projects:
Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Social Sciences
Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI)

Proactive Conflict Management at post-Soviet Deep Borders (Academy Project)

In Finnish: Ennakoiva konfliktinhallinta Venäjän syvillä rajoilla (Akatemiahanke)

Project Leader: Dr. Helena Rytövuori-Apunen

Research Theme:

The European Union’s Eastern Partnership and Central Asian policies have created a zone of ‘extended neighborhood’ which in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia overlaps with Russia’s ‘near abroad’. The policy problems relating to these geographic areas, commonly considered the ‘fault lines’ of world politics, increase the relevance of gaining knowledge and understanding of the multiplicity of practices, habitual and policy-related, which within the ‘post-Soviet space’ contest or consolidate borders. The project includes three interrelated domains of research:

  • policies and action in the settlement of the conflicts of Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh, analyzed against the backdrop of the already ‘deep-frozen’ contested settlement in Abkhazia and South-Ossetia;
  • trans-frontier networks and narratives of legitimacy and discourses of control by the central state in Kyrgyzstan and its immediate borderlands in the tri-partite Ferghana Valley and along the Kazakhstani border;
  • the transformation of the political landscape in Central and South-Central Asia in the moment created by the gradual withdrawal of the Western coalition forces from Afghanistan, with focus on the interplay of borders, security and development.

The research results assess regional dynamics of conflict and development connecting external interests and bordering policies with national and local interests. Relevance for policies relates to:

  • development in the context of state-building processes entailing factors of instability such as highly permeable or practically non-existent borders, fluid state-periphery relations, omnipresent but dwindling Soviet legacies of administrative and political practices and new models of state- and nation-building based on territorial exclusion; and
  • the question of how the EU’s policies can best communicate with the Russian approaches, concerning both substantive points of settlement (content, design) and the procedural aspects of management and resolution of conflicts.

The key analytical concept in the research is pragma (instructed by C.S. Peirce’s semeiotic); other main concepts are interest, vertical power and legitimacy. In the methodological sense, the project develops applications of pragmatist research.


Academy of Finland (Research Council for Culture and Society, Development Research): 1.9.2012-31.8.2016.

Research Group:

Researchers at TAPRI:

Helena Rytövuori-Apunen, Dr Soc Sc, Docent (International Relations), university researcher, principal investigator in the project
Steven Parham, PhD (Social Anthropology), postdoctoral researcher in the project
Vadim Romashov, M Soc Sc. (International Relations), researcher in the project
Simbal Khan, PhD, Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Department at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. Visiting senior researcher in the project at TAPRI, Autumn 2013.

Other Researchers:

Dr. Mika Aaltola (Finnish Institute of International Affairs)
Professor Tahir Amin (Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad)
Elnara Bainazarova, PhD (Astana)
Professor Renée Marlin-Bennett (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore)
Slavomír Horák, PhD (Institute of International Studies, Charles University, Prague)
Juha Käpylä, MA, doctoral researcher (Finnish Institute of International Affairs)
Associate Professor Dmitry Malyshev (Lomonosov Moscow State University)
Jan Sír, PhD (Department of Russian and East European Studies, Charles University, Prague)
Professor Jeremy Smith (University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu)
Furugzod Usmonov, PhD, (Tajik National University, Dushanbe)

TAPRI interns:

Marikki Rieppola, BA; Michael Roush, BA; Patrick Wagner, BA;
Joshua Rose, BA

Recent publications (selected):


Conference panel (‘After Outside Presence Wanes: Negotiating Borderlands and Locating Security in Central Asia’) at the ABS 2014 World Conference, Joensuu, Finland and St. Petersburg, Russia, 9-13 June, 2014,


Helena Rytövuori-Apunen
tel. +358(0)40 190 1593
Tampere Peace Research Institute TAPRI



Visiting address: Linna building, 6th floor
Postal address: TAPRI, School of Social Sciences and Humanities
FI-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
tel. +358 (0)3 355 111
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