Why Can’t Georgia Take Full Advantage of Opportunities Provided by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA)?

Natia Daghelishvili

The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) provides a preferential regime for trade between Georgia and the EU and creates opportunities to increase access between the markets based on harmonized regulations. More specifically, DCFTA enables Georgian entrepreneurs to sell their products in one of the biggest markets in the world – the EU single market – without tax burdens and quotas. Between 2013 and 2017, the share of Georgia’s overall export to the EU increased from 20.9% to 24%, (more…)

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Trendy Tbilisi: where Georgian fashion meets public diplomacy

Lorraine Vaney

In the last three years, the Georgian fashion scene has gone through an unprecedented development. Tbilisi became a new hot-spot for buyers and opinion makers looking for authenticity, avant-gardism and exoticism. The capital of Georgia certainly took advantage of the dynamics ruling and extending the global fashion market – as did other capitals with less success.

In a highly competitive market, it has somehow become a requisite for capital cities to have their own fashion week like those in NY, London, Milan, Paris and Berlin as a visual demonstration of wealth and taste. So why and how did Tbilisi become the new fashion destination in Europe? How could this attractive industry serve as a soft power tool on the road to European integration? Part of the answer has to do with shared European culture and public diplomacy. (more…)

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Beyond top-down democratisation: protests of Georgian students, ‘ravers’ and workers

Tornike Bakakuri

Over the last couple of years, Georgia’s protesting scene has experienced an interesting transformation – the emergence of self-organised groups and networks, exerting direct pressure on the state instead of relying on political parties and the international community. This blog post focuses on three examples of such collective action – student, ‘raver’ and worker protests.

  • Georgia’s protesting scene: turning complaints into action

From ‘Solidarność’ to ‘Gilets Jaunes’, recent European history shows the sweeping power of protest movements in the process of democratisation and social transformation. However, such developments have largely been hindered in Georgia and some other Eastern European countries by civil wars, conflicts and economic collapse in the early 1990s. (more…)

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GIP Commentary: When an Election Damages Democracy: Lessons from the 2018 Georgia’s Presidential Election 

Kornely Kakachia, Bidzina Lebanidze

Georgia’s recent presidential elections exposed many of the problems that have been aggravating the country’s democratization process over the last few years. By electing the country’s first female president, Georgia has made one step forward — but the violations that were documented during the vote represent two steps back  in its efforts to consolidate its fragile democracy. International and local observers believe that the process of democratic consolidation is slowing down even as fundamental democratic norms are increasingly under threat, including wide political acceptance of the election results and the values associated with a responsible opposition. The country finds itself stuck in a semi-democratic limbo with the ruling party caught between the conflicting objectives of completing the democratization of the country and retaining political power. (more…)

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Russia’s Information Warfare: A Menace to Georgian National Security

Irakli Jgharkava

Following the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, Russia’s Information Warfare (IW) campaign targeting Georgia has become a threat to the country’s national security and has put a damper on its European agenda.  As the Facebook pages that disseminate anti-West propaganda proliferate alongside mounting fake news, it is worth exploring how Russia conducts its IW against Georgia and in what ways it endangers Georgian national security.  

Although a decade has passed since the 2008 war, Georgia’s political agenda, with its Western leaning policies and aspirations, remain a thorn in Russia’s side. Russia continues to perceive liberal Western ideals as a threat to its sphere of influence and is particularly weary of Georgia’s pro-EU, and pro-NATO stances. (more…)

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The Future of the Eastern Partners: 6 Lessons from the Western Balkans

Frauke Seebass

In the fifteen years since the Thessaloniki declaration confirmed the European accession partnership with the Western Balkans, only Croatia has succeeded in joining the Union. However, a new momentum has emerged this year, with the Commission seeing a new “credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans”, and the possible opening of accession talks with Albania and (Northern) Macedonia in 2019.

As for the Eastern Partnership countries (EaP), none of them has submitted a membership application yet. During her recent trip to Tbilisi, German chancellor Merkel confirmed Georgia’s EU-perspectivetogether with Ukraine and Moldova promoting closer cooperation, but at the same time dimming hopes of a fast accession track. (more…)

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Closer than it may appear #GEOTAN

NATO-Georgia Cooperation since Bucharest Summit

Sophiko Kurasbediani

According to the latest poll, conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 75% of the Georgian population supports Georgia’s integration to NATO, 17% disapproves it and the remaining 8% has no clear position. Often, citizens do not have enough information about what the NATO-Georgia cooperation implies, what is being done within this cooperation and why this is important. The lack of information in the society can be explained by the peculiarities associated with the security and defense sector and by the lack of accessibility of information regarding reforms and changes. (more…)

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Media Polarization: A Challenge for Georgian Democracy?

Irakli Jgharkava

As Georgia prepares for the second round of the presidential elections, media polarization in the country has become more and more of an issue, posing an immediate threat to democracy. Acrimonious and politicizing, it is splitting Georgian society into two camps — supporters versus opponents of the Government.

No candidate received enough votes in the 28 October presidential elections to win, which led to an increase in media polarization amongst key national broadcasters as TV channels scrambled to support their favorite candidates. For example, Imedi TV has openly sided (more…)

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What could change in the composition of the European Parliament? Should Georgia be worried?

Ketevan Goletiani*

Citizens of the 27 EU member states will elect a new European Parliament in 2019. Internal tensions within the European Union and Brexit will influence these elections, as will turbulence on the international stage and migration-related and social challenges, which will result in an increase in fear, a spike in identitarian movement activity and populism. All these developments lead to a rise in populist and radical political groups that oppose European integration and, more generally, doubt the European project. This means it is unlikely that the EP elected in May will resemble the current one. (more…)

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Democratization and Europeanization in Georgia: How to lead the process?

Levan Kakhishvili, Elene Panchulidze

Despite the fact that European integration is a priority for the Georgian government, public opinion polls demonstrate that there is a lack of public awareness about the processes of Europeanization and democratization. It is not always clear to an average Georgian whether these two processes are the same or completely independent from each other; what each of them implies and whether they are imposed by outside forces or nurtured from within Georgian society. A part of the problem is that Georgian civil society is highly concentrated in Tbilisi. One can argue that most if not all discussions, conferences, roundtables, etc. are attended by the same people over and over again. (more…)

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