De facto states research unit

Our team


Eiki BergEiki Berg is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Tartu. He has published widely in leading peer-reviewed journals on different aspects of de facto state dynamics. He is co-editor of The Politics of International Interaction with De Facto States: Conceptualising Engagement without Recognition (Routledge, 2018) and co-author of De Facto States and Land-for-Peace Agreements: Territory and Recognition at Odds (Routledge, 2022). In 2012, he received the National Science Award in the field of Social Sciences, for the research in “Identities, Conflicting Self-Determination and De Facto States”.


Scott PeggScott Pegg is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is the author of International Society and the De Facto State (Routledge 1998/2019) and has published in such journals as African AffairsExtractive Industries and SocietyForeign Policy AnalysisGeoforumInternational Studies Perspectives and Journal of Modern African Studies. Dr. Pegg served as an international election observer for Somaliland’s presidential election in 2017 and its parliamentary and local council elections in 2021 and Somaliland’s political development remains one of his central research interests.


Raul ToomlaRaul Toomla is a Lecturer of International Relations at the University of Tartu. He defended his PhD thesis on De Facto States in International System: Conditions for (In-)formal Engagement (University of Tartu, 2014). His main research focus is on the engagement of de facto states. Using set-theoretical methods, he attempts to determine their position in the international system. His other interests include international political economies and system level approaches to international affairs.


Ana Maria AlbulescuAna Maria Albulescu is a Research Fellow in Conflict Studies at the University of Tartu. She defended her PhD in War Studies (Kings College London, 2019). Her research focuses on dynamics of frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space, de facto states, democratisation and international peace-building efforts. She is the author of Incomplete Secession After Unresolved Conflicts: Political Order and Escalation in the Post-Soviet Space (Routledge, 2021).


Shpend KursaniShpend Kursani is a Lecturer at the University of Tartu. He defended his PhD thesis on Contested States: The Struggle for Survival and Recognition in the Post-1945 International Order (European University Institute, 2020). He has published on coordinated recognition practices of de facto states and has ongoing works on conceptual, theoretical, and methodological aspects of the study of de facto states.


Kristel VitsKristel Vits is a PhD researcher at the University of Tartu. Her research interests include de facto state agency and international engagement. She has published on foreign policy endeavours of Post-Soviet de facto states. Currently, she works on her thesis project on De Facto States and Dependences: Disentangling the Interrelationship Between De Facto Statehood and Patronage.


Butrint BerishaButrint Berisha is a PhD researcher at the University of Tartu. He is primarily interested in de facto states foreign relations strategies. His thesis on Exploring the Role of Civil Society Organisations in the Foreign Policy of De Facto States: An Analysis of Kosovo, Palestine and Taiwan Since 2010 investigates how different actors in de facto states, such as civil society organisations, attempt to become diplomatic agents by engaging in recognition efforts.


Izzet Yalin YoukselIzzet Yalin Yüksel is a PhD researcher at the University of Tartu. His research interests consist of de facto states, identity politics, patron-client relations, ontological security, security studies and conflict resolution. Currently he works on his thesis project on Navigating the Perils of Statehood: International Patron-Client Relationships of De Facto and Microstates.