Ein Interview mit dem Politikwissenschaftler Erik Davtyan

Erik Davtyan
Erik Davtyan
Foto: Erik Davtyan

Erik Davtyan war von Ende November bis Ende Dezember 2021 Gastwissenschaftler am Institut für Politikwissenschaften. Er wurde in dieser Zeit gefördert durch ein Stipendium des DAAD-Ostpartnerschaften-Programms.

Wir führten das Interview auf Englisch.




Erik, you are currently in Jena for research and funded through the DAAD Eastern Partnership Programme („Ostpartnerschaften“). Can you describe the feeling in the moment when you received the information that you had successfully applied for the scholarship? 

It was great as it was the first time I got a grant to concentrate on my research abroad. I have been to other countries before - for conferences or teaching - but not specifically for doing research. It was very nice to hear that I have the chance to come to the Friedrich Schiller University and to concentrate on my research for three weeks. When something happens for the first time you are always going to remember that! I‘m sure, I will remember this moment for a very long time.

Where did you work on your research before you came to Jena? Which is your home university?

I‘m from Armenia and I‘m an assistant professor at the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Yerevan State University. I‘m based in Yerevan and I‘m doing my research there.

I can imagine that the process from writing the letter of application for the scholarship to your arrival in Jena took some time. Can you give anyone who is also interested in this scholarship programme some advice on how to best approach an application? What were your personal milestones on your way to Jena?

First of all, you should be informed about all these opportunities. In my case my home university has a well established cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University. I know lots of colleagues from my faculty who have been here and I always knew that there were opportunities to come here and do research. The second step is to have a research proposal: You should clearly know what to focus on when you are in Jena, because this is a research programme and you should have a clear cut proposal. You should also know whom you want to contact here and who you would like to work with during your stay.The programme also requires that you choose a host professor. He or she will support you with your research project and facilitate the organisation of your stay. I think these are the basic steps that all applicants should consider when planning their application.

Can you give us an idea of how long this planning process took before you applied?

Well, it depends on the state of your research proposal. I had a ready research proposal, so it didn’t take a long time for me to prepare one for this application. It’s basically about research proposals, because once it is ready, you can proceed with the rest of the paperwork easily. You have to think about your research proposal, about the ideas you are going to research anddiscuss them with your potential host professor.  So in my case it did not take long to prepare the application, and once I had the positive answer, I just proceeded with the paperwork, getting my visa and so on. The whole process  took about two or three months.

The goals of the Eastern Partnership Programme are intensifying research, connecting international researchers, supporting intercultural dialogue and using research to deal with conflicts. To what extent does your research contribute to these goals? Can you sum up your main researh interests for your stay in Jena?

My research proposal is about Georgia’s  Russian policy under the Georgian Dream. My research interests focus on the South Caucasus region, including relations between Georgia and Russia. South Caucasus is part of the Eastern Partnership, so three out of six countries in the programme are from this region, and one of these countries is addressed in my research. Coming to Jena through the Eastern Partnership Programme  is a good opportunity to meet people  who work on Eastern Europe, on Eastern Partnership and topics related to these countries. It‘s a great chance to expand your network and meet professors, PhD-students and research fellows in that field. The programme helps you to meet and network with many researchers in your field in a relatively short time. Of course, the pandemic situation makes it very difficult to meet people, but still you can establish contacts, let them know that you are here and can become part of the network . 

What are the best places for you to work on your research in Jena?

Most of the time I work at the Institute of Political Science on campus. I was given an office there. The conditions are excellent for scholars to focus on their research, and it is easier to communicate with people if you want to meet someone nearby.

Where do you live in Jena and what do you like about living in Jena?

Jena is  a small, beautiful city and very calm. It reminds me of my home country which is very mountainous as well. The mountains and the forest near Jena are excellent places for hiking and spending some time during the weekend. I stay at the university guest house „Am Herrenberge“. The guest house is located in a very beautiful district which is close to the mountains and the forest. Every time I go to the university I discover very beautiful places and buildings. A part of the road passes through a mountainous  area, you can hear birds singing, no cars, no traffic jam. You feel relaxed when you come to the university!

Can you describe your first impression of Jena when you looked it up on the internet in the preparation of your stay? Did this impression change when you arrived here?

Interesting question! When I heard the name Jena I already knew that it is situated somewhere in the middle of Germany. When I googled Jena and I looked at it on the map I noticed that the city is small and long, because it is situated between mountains, it‘s a kind of valley. That was my first impression when discovering Jena on the map.

I woudn‘t say that my experience was completely different from my expectations. When I googled Jena, I saw some pictures, so I was quite familiar with the architecture in Jena, I mean the streets, the buildings, the most famous sights. I noticed that there are a lot of green spaces around the city. My expectations were fully met. Everything was just great.

Could you imagine to stay in Jena longer for your research?

Yes, I  would  love to come back again for a longer research stay. I feel very good in Jena, I like the city, the weather, the opportunities the university offers. It is a very good university for foreign researchers to come here to focus on their research and spend some time travelling, exploring cities around and Germany in general. I definitely recommend to others to come to Jena!

Erik, thank you very much for your time and all the best for you!

Thank you too for the opportunity to have this interview! It was a pleasure to share my experience here in Jena. I am very sad to leave Jena, but I hope to come back again in the future.