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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The last president elected by people? A review of the 2018 presidential elections

Ketevan Goletiani*

On October 28, 2018 Georgia will elect a head of state by popular vote, most likely for the last time. After the president’s swearing-in ceremony, the new version of the Georgian Constitution, which calls for indirect president elections, will go into effect. Political uncertainty during the pre-election period, together with the president’s reduced powers, has diminished voter interest in this election and added to the number of undecided voters, despite the fact that the outcome of the elections may have a serious impact on the country’s internal political life, the democratization process and foreign affairs (more…)

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The Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU: Messages for Georgia #EU2018at

Natalia Tchamiashvili*

In July 2018 Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The driving motto of the Austria’s EU presidency is “A Europe that protects,” an objective that it wants to achieve using the principle of subsidiarity. On the level of the European Union, the emphasis will be put on the issues that require joint actions from member states. Among Austria’s top priorities are: security and the fight against illegal migration; securing prosperity and competitiveness through digitalization; and stability in the neighbourhood – with a focus on the European perspective of the Western Balkans. Austria will be the president country until December 1, 2018. In light of Georgia’s European aspirations, it is crucial to learn more about the priorities and the main messages of the Austrian Presidency. (more…)

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GIP commentary: The Treaty on Open Skies and the Causes of Russian-Georgian Confrontation

Mariam Grigalashvili
  • What is the treaty on Open Skies?

Access to neighboring states’ military intelligence data is an important element in international politics. In 1955, in order to obtain such information legally, the treaty on Open Skies was proposed. The aim of Open Skies, which was initiated by then-US President Dwight Eisenhower, was to remove the international community’s doubts about individual country’s military arsenal for armed confrontations, and to restore mutual trust. Initially, it was intended to be a bilateral agreement between the US and the Soviet Union. However, despite the enthusiasm of the US, the Soviet Union did not agree to sign the treaty. (more…)

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3 reasons why the Armenian revolution means nothing for the foreign policy of the country and 3 reasons why we thought it would

Shota Gelovani*

The significance of the April 2018 events in Armenia will become clearer in the months to come. However, the fact remains that Armenia is the second Caucasian country that has succeeded in peacefully replacing its authoritarian government following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The civil disobedience campaign organized by Nikol Pashinyan, an MP from the Civil Contract party, lasted more than a month and cost Serzh Sargsyan, now former Prime Minister of the country, his position. (more…)

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Workplace Drug Testing: A Blind Spot of the Drug Policy Reform

Lorraine Vaney

The Georgian zero-tolerance drug policy, inherited from the Saakashvili administration, has faced wide criticism lately. Revisions are currently being discussed at Parliament, based on the recommendations of the  Georgian Drug Policy Platform. In the context of a tense social debate, punctuated by street demonstrations, the question of mandatory drug testing, together with criminal liability, is a key issue. However, little has been said about Georgia’s policy of mandatory Workplace Drug Testing (WDT) which is much stricter than the accepted practice in neighboring countries, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan. In both European countries and Georgia, WDT is a complex topic to address. The issue of administrating drug tests to civil servants, which is mandatory according to Article 18 and 25 of the Law of Georgia on Public Service is thus even more sensitive. (more…)

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P3’s Military Airstrikes in Syria: Cui Bono?

Irakli Sirbiladze*

On April 13, 2018, in response to reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Douma, Syria, the United States, United Kingdom and France (Three out of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, hereinafter referred as P3) launched ‘precision strikes’ on the chemical weapon facilities in Syria. The joint military action was preceded by a series of UN Security Council meetings and an exchange of threats between Russia and the United States over the consequences of the anticipated strike. Similar, albeit smaller, military strikes were already carried out by the United States in 2017 in response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack executed by the Syrian regime.

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Threats to Georgia’s Visa-Free Regime: Perspectives from European Capitals

Casper Wuite

Nearly one year ago, on March 28, 2017, Georgian citizens received the right to travel to the EU’s Schengen Area without a visa. Prior to granting visa-free travel, the EU put a suspension mechanism in place that would allow for visas to be reinstated under certain circumstances.  

The European Commission’s first report under the visa suspension mechanism found that, in general, Georgia has been meeting the visa liberalisation benchmarks. The December 2017 report also noted, however, that “further improvement of the implementation is expected,” (more…)

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To Snitch or Not to Snitch? Explaining Non-cooperation with Police in Georgia

Dr. Alexander Kupatadze*

On December 1, two schoolboys were stabbed to death in a violent incident on Khorava street in downtown Tbilisi. The day before, on November 30, the court hearing for Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted from Tbilisi in May allegedly by members of Georgia’s security services, concluded in the Belakan province of Azerbaijan. These two events are seemingly unrelated, but in fact they are interlinked in fundamental ways.

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Georgia is Returning to Its Place at the European Table

Joseph Larsen*
Originally published in Emerging Europe 

When the Soviet Union dissolved on New Year’s Eve, 1991, it was replaced by 15 newly-independent countries with vastly different cultures and levels of development. One of those countries, Georgia, emerged with the determination to shed its Soviet baggage and return to Europe as a modern, functioning nation-state. For this country, Europeanisation became synonymous with “desovietisation.”

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