SSCN – Swiss South Caucasus Net

Supporting projects in the South Caucasus

On the basis of its foundation charter, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, in conjunction with «Swiss South Caucasus Net» (SSCN), has a commitment to Eastern Europe, centred on the South Caucasus with its ethnic, politcal and economic problems. The SSCN was initiated in 2017 to replace the previous programme «Academic Swiss Caucasus Net» (2009–2017), which worked to promote young researchers in the humanities and social sciences in the South Caucasus.

Gebert Rüf Stiftung’s commitment to Eastern Europe

As well as «promoting Switzerland as a top location for business and as a place to live», since 1999 Gebert Rüf Stiftung has committed 5 to 15% of its support funds to Eastern Europe, in accordance with its purpose article. Heinrich Gebert, himself a globally active businessman, regarded the re-Europeanization of the former Eastern bloc and Soviet satellite states as an important task for the whole of Europe. In this respect, the support programmes of Gebert Rüf Stiftung aim to provide targeted support to transition processes through education and development projects.

From the «Swiss Baltic Net» to the «Academic Swiss Caucasus Net» (2009-2017)

Between 1999 and 2011, Gebert Rüf Stiftung ran the «Swiss Baltic Net» (SBN), a broad-based scheme to foster young academic researchers in the three Baltic states. From 2009, this programme was gradually replaced by the «Academic Swiss Caucasus Net». With the establishment of the EU cohesion policy, Gebert Rüf Stiftung’s commitment to Eastern Europe shifted from the Baltic to the South Caucasus.

The Eastern European countries outside the EU (i.e. Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia) today create crucial links between Europe and Russia. They differ in terms of their level of democratization, and their social, political and scientific development is fragile. The South Caucasus region is being supported in its transition processes through targeted support programmes.

Swiss South Caucasus Net – SSCN

The SSCN seeks to contribute to the region’s development by means of wide-ranging financial support focused on basic training and fundamental needs – not primarily on research and knowledge. Educational development projects promote key areas such as agriculture and tourism, while support is also given to projects in risk areas.

All projects are designed to develop potential and encourage independence. The support does not take the form of grants, and avoids leading to dependency.

Ethnic and national conflicts can be bitter throughout the region. In order to protect individuals and property and avoid superficial comparisons, therefore, only selected support projects are publicized. The safety of the people involved outweighs the justifiable requirement for maximum transparency in the foundation sector.

The programme has been outsourced by Gebert Rüf Stiftung and is operated as a fund (dependent foundation) of the Swiss umbrella foundation «Fondation des Fondateurs», in the same way as «Venture Kick». The foundation, which accepts funding from third parties, «aims to support transitional processes in the South Caucasus through initiating, supporting and implementing educational and development projects with practical applications».

Program management

The Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) of the University of Fribourg/Freiburg ran and coordinated the ASCN until the end of 2016. Since 2017 Philipp Egger, Gebert Rüf Stiftung’s new delegate for Eastern Europe, has been responsible for all matters connected with the two Eastern Europe programmes:

Annual reports ASCN