From “peaceful protests” to “manifestation of depravity”: How did the Georgian Dream present the June crisis to the public?

Levan Kakhishvili

In the context of democratization and democratic consolidation, internal political crises, caused by either external shocks or dynamics in the domestic arena, pose a significant challenge to the stability of the Georgian political system. Such crises can jeopardize not only internal order but also Georgia’s relations with external actors. However, one of the latest crises, the June 20 and the following protests, linked the external and internal dimensions of Georgian politics. (more…)

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A New Challenger to Georgia’s Bipolar Politics: Chances and Impediments

Givi Silagadze*

Georgia’s polarized political landscape has been shaken by a newcomer—Mamuka Khazaradze. His entrance to politics coupled with a promised transition from a mixed electoral system to a fully proportional one has generated a great deal of interest in Georgian society as well as in the media.  Experts and journalists, speculating on the possible political formations that could appear following the 2020 elections, are asking whether Mamuka Khazaradze’s forthcoming party will succeed in attracting votes and whether it will emerge as a viable alternative in Georgia’s bipolar politics. Although there are no straightforward answers to these questions, it is argued throughout this blog that Mamuka Khazaradze and his forthcoming party might be relatively well-positioned to challenge the bipolar pattern and emerge as a solid political actor in the Georgian politics. (more…)

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Gauging the effects of the Eastern Partnership: Democratization efforts in Georgia

Nikoloz Tokhvadze[1]

10 years ago, when the Polish-Swedish tandem initiated the Eastern Partnership (EaP), the expectations in the region were overly hopeful. Having leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan posing together on the podium and president Lukashenko on the guest list,[2] spelled brighter future on the EU’s freshly expended eastern frontiers.

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Protests in Tbilisi: What can be learned about the role of Russia as an issue in Georgian party competition?

Levan Kakhishvili[1]

Protests and demonstrations are not uncommon in Georgia. However, the recent wave of protests that started on June 20 was still unexpected. The demonstration started against the Russian MP from the Communist Party, Sergei Gavrilov, who is also the President of the General Assembly of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). Protesters were unhappy when he addressed the delegates of the IAO in Russian from the seat of the speaker of the Georgian parliament.[2] This means that the trigger for the Georgian public’s outrage was Russia, even if the root causes were related to economic and social grievances as well as issues related to Georgian-Russian relations, which Georgian citizens expect to be handled delicately. Demonstrators’ demands shifted to internal politics, however, following the violent dispersion of the June 20 rally by the police.[3] In response, the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) made some concessions. One, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze resigned. Two, the GD committed to election reform: the majoritarian vote will be abolished for the 2020 elections and the polls will be fully proportional.[4] Although these issues require in-depth analysis, this article focuses on the spark that started the protests: Russia and its role in Georgian party competition.

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Foreign policy and domestic constraints: what political regimes can and cannot do in Georgia

Kornely Kakachia, Bidzina Lebanidze

Sparked by the presence of Russian Duma members in Georgia’s parliament, anti-governmental protests in Georgia have rattled the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and caused a political crisis. The incident, including the disproportional amount of force used in cracking down on protesters, has further tarnished GD’s already declining image. It has also laid bare the radical nature of the main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), which attempted to storm the parliament.

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The 2019 European Parliament elections – lessons for the Eastern Partnership?

Laura Gelhaus[1]

The 2019 European Parliament elections were marked by one of the most visible campaigns in the EU’s history, even declared “decisive for the future of our continent” by French president Emmanuel Macron.[2] In its immediate aftermath, much is still uncertain. This includes the final formation of parliamentary groups and the decision over posts including the President of the Commission, the Commission’s make-up, the President of the Council, as well as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Nonetheless, a broad overview and cautious look towards what the elections may mean for the Eastern Partnership and Georgia may be useful.

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What does the Dutch request to the European Commission over Albania mean for Georgia?

Jelger Groeneveld[1]

The Dutch government has decided to request the European Commission to suspend visa-free movement for Albanians, who enjoyed this since 2010. The decision comes after a group of four Dutch MPs submitted a motion to temporarily cancel visa-free traveling for Albanian nationals in the Schengen Zone, which was backed by the Dutch Parliament. Can this decision of the Dutch government influence Georgia’s visa free travel to the Schengen Zone and the challenges it faces?

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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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