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Rise of Nationalist Populism in Georgia: Implications for European Integration

Bidzina Lebanidze[1]

This policy brief explores to what extent the rising wave of populist nationalism in Georgia affects the process of Georgia’s approximation to the EU. Normatively speaking, the populist nationalist discourse in Georgia is Eurosceptic as it legitimizes itself through opposition to progressive and liberal-democratic values which are part of EU’s normative script. So far its impact on the actual process of Georgia’s European integration has been rather negligible, however. Georgia remains the most pro-European state among the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, with more than 80% of population supporting the country’s EU membership. (more…)

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Decreasing level of trust in Georgian political parties: What does it mean for democracy and how to avoid negative consequences?

Levan Kakhishvili[1]

Trust in political parties in Georgia has dropped from 21 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2017. Although the level of trust has never been particularly high, this trend should raise concern and inspire political parties to act. Political trust is mostly determined by societal beliefs and political institutions. This paper analyzes both of these dimensions to demonstrate the roots of the distrust. In terms of beliefs, the paper explores four aspects of trust as perceived by the Georgian public: competence, benevolence, integrity, and predictability. The paper also considers the role of political institutions. (more…)

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Georgia and the EU’s Eastern Partnership: a Swedish Perspective

Martin Kragh[1]

The ‘hybrid war’ waged by Russia against Ukraine since 2014, which was preceded by the short-lived Russia-Georgia War in 2008, has exposed the wider conflict between the respective goals and ambitions of the EU and Russia in their shared neighbourhood. The Kremlin’s belligerence towards Ukraine brought to the fore limitations of the EU’s traditional foreign policy approach – characterized by an emphasis on shared values, international law and norms, and a technocratic approach to reform, and forced EU governments to address the unintended geostrategic implications of the Eastern Partnership program covering Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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Social Underpinnings of Right-Wing Populism in Georgia

Salome Minesashvili

A wave of right-wing, nationalist populism is sweeping the Western world, illustrated by Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing parties across Europe. Although neither populism nor right-wing movements are new to Georgia, the combination of the two and their legitimization by legislative rights is a more recent development over the past two decades. As a result of the 2016 parliamentary elections, the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, which is commonly assumed to be a right-wing populist party, managed to overcome the 5% threshold and secure seats in the legislative body, (more…)

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A Positive Influence in the South Caucasus? Georgia’s Potential as a Regional Stabilizer

Victor Le Grix

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that erupted in 1988 may reach a new level of intensity in the coming years. Although recent developments have shown the parties’ willingness to seriously restart the peace negotiations, the situation remains fragile. The implementation of an unbalanced status quo and the political attractiveness of short-term military victories in times of economic difficulties are factors which contribute to durable instability and  may still lead to a new clash. In a region where economic interests are so interconnected and influence is so disputed, (more…)

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Conflicts in Georgia: Learning lessons, exploring alternative options

Originally published in The Slovak Foreign Policy Association
Publication title – Frozen ground: Role of the OSCE in protracted conflicts
Medea Turashvili

When discussing the conflicts in Georgia two important components should be take into account: Firstly, the wars of the 1990s in South Ossetia and Abkhazia were the combined result and logical culmination of distrust between the leadership of the central government and various ethnic groups living in independent Georgia, (more…)

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New publication – “The Struggle for Good Governance in Eastern Europe”

Originaly published by CEPS

This book contains the first comprehensive and independent comparative assessment of the fundamental political challenges facing GeorgiaMoldova and Ukraine in the context of their Association Agreements with the EU. Issues analysed in depth include the functioning of democratic institutions, the rule of law, the role of oligarchs and the advance (or not) of policies to combat corruption. Also analysed is the ‘hybrid’ aspect of the political regimes and societies in all three countries, as between their west and east European orientations. (more…)

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Normative Power vs. Democratic Backsliding

European Values in the EU and Georgia

This policy paper is the result of a collaborative effort of the authors, Polis180, the Georgian Institute of Politics and Argo. It was inspired by the discussions we had during a workshop and conference, conducted from 16-20 September 2018 in Tbilisi as part of the project “Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Georgian, German and French Perspectives on European Values and Euro-Atlantic Integration”. We would like to thank the authors, editors and reviewers for their work on this paper and the workshop and conference speakers for their inspiring inputs.

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The socializing effects of Georgian parties’ membership in European political party federations

Levan Kakhishvili

Building a functioning party political system is a complex process that is influenced by a range of factors. On the other hand, the nature of party politics also shapes the process of democratization. That means that, without the foundation of relevant political party system, it is unimaginable that Georgia will achieve a consolidated democracy. This paper focuses on party politics in Georgia and how interactions with European party federations (hereafter “Europarties”) influences Georgian political parties. (more…)

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Defining the far right in Georgia: From neo-fascists to populist parties

Adriana Stephan

As countries throughout Europe fall prey to far-right dissent, Georgia is also witnessing gains in its own domestic, far-right movement. Though still a marginal phenomenon, the burgeoning success of these movements threatens Georgia’s European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambitions, as well as the strength of its democratic institutions. Far-right groups cultivate anti-Western sentiment and employ xenophobic, racist, and nationalist rhetoric to present foreigners as fundamentally incompatible with Georgian Orthodoxy and Georgian identity. (more…)

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Not EU’s world? Putting Georgia’s European Integration in Context

Bidzina Lebanidze, Mariam Grigalashvili

One of the main shortcomings of academic and policy-relevant studies that explore Euro-Atlantic integration processes in Georgia and in the other Eastern Partnership (EaP) states is the tendency towards EU-centrism – they focus exclusively on Western actors and analyze the European integration processes in the post-Soviet region from the bilateral perspective of European Union (EU) – EaP relations (see, for instance, EaP Index or the majority of academic research). Meanwhile, recently it has become obvious that unlike Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) (more…)

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Georgia’s DCFTA Communication Toolkit

This publication is an integral part of the European Union-funded project “Georgia on the European Way: Creation of Effective Model for DCFTA and SME Strategy Implementation” launched in April 2017 and scheduled to be implemented by spring 2019. The project addresses the lack of awareness about the opportunities provided by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreement between Georgia and the EU. It seeks to increase the role of Georgian civil society organizations (CSOs) in a nation-wide DCFTA/SME communication campaign, while strengthening their capacities to assist local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their preparations to access the EU single market (more…)

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