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Geopolitics and Security: A New Strategy for the South Caucasus

The South Caucasus is a region at the nexus of various economic, political, and energy interests. It is currently witnessing some of the most complex and dangerous events in the world today. It features weak states, direct and proxy wars, and a confluence of great power interests. It is also a prism for fundamental challenges to the international system, including separatism, security, energy transit, and infrastructure. Strategically, the South Caucasus sits at the crossroads of vibrant global markets: Central Asia and China to the east; Turkey and Europe to the west; Russia to the north; and Iran and the Middle East to the south. However, the lack of regional unity and unresolved frozen and protracted conflicts remain the biggest hurdles to developing a functioning regional security architecture. (more…)

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GIP Interview with Dr. Barbaza Kunz on Georgia’s European perspectives within the context of current debates on the EU’s future

Europeanization is often viewed in Georgia as the process with an end goal of the membership in the European Union. How is it seen from Paris and Berlin? Dr. Barbara Kunz, a research fellow at the French Institute of International Relations’ Study Committee on French-German Relations, was kind enough to answer a few questions about Georgia’s European Perspectives. Interview by Levan Kakhishvili, GIP Analyst.

GIP also published a policy memo by Dr. Kunz – “Georgia’s European perspectives within the context of current debates on the EU’s future: A Franco-German view” (more…)

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Georgia in European Discourses: An Austrian Perspective

Johann Wolfschwenger

For the past several years, Georgia has been a ‘model student’ of EU integration. The country’s firm pro-European stance contributed to the signing of the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU in 2014. However, Georgia’s European aspirations are not always adequately reflected within the EU. This has created a gap between EU member states’ perceptions about Georgia’s EU integration and the domestic discourse in Georgia. In an effort to bridge this gap, this policy memo identifies the preferences and perceptions in Austria that determine its position towards Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. It raises the question whether Austria should be seen as an advocate or a sceptic of Georgia’s EU membership aspirations. (more…)

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Compendium of Policy Briefs 2018

Bidzina Lebanidze, Joseph Larsen,
Levan Kakhishvili, Ivanna Machitidze

Consisting of four policy briefs, the publication introduces policy recommendations on major aspects of Georgia’s Europeanization and democratization agenda,  particularly on the influence of Western political conditionality on domestic agendas; the importance of democratic consolidation at the political level; and influences from non-western regional actors (Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Russia) on Georgia’s democratization. Intended to encourage public participation in the democratic processes, this compendium creates the groundwork for government officials, field experts, civil society actors and interested stakeholders engaged in Georgia’s gradual democratic advancement.

This publication has been developed under the project – “Incentivizing Democratic Development”, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and implemented (more…)

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Georgia’s European perspectives within the context of current debates on the EU’s future: A Franco-German view

Dr. Barbara Kunz

As of 2018, the EU’s internal debate has largely emerged from the gloomy state that had overshadowed it recent years: Brussels is again looking forward rather than focusing on crisis management. After the depression caused by the Eurozone crisis, the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, much of the current debate focuses on taking European integration further in a number of fields: migration and border protection, as well as Eurozone reform and defense. The same applies to Franco-German relations. Paris and Berlin, the traditional (though not always functioning) “motor” of European integration, have formulated ambitious cooperation objectives, both in terms of bilateral relations and within the broader European context. (more…)

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Causing Trouble for Democracies: Should Georgia Look West to Learn Russia’s Strategy?

Ivanna Machitidze

The combination of democratic promotion and democratic consolidation has long become a catch phrase for states to be recognized as high-achievers and their societies to be labelled as free. The West, the driving force of both processes, has underestimated the risk that the fruits of democracy promotion would be used for more nefarious goals than to aid its direct beneficiaries. However, the democratization process opens “windows of opportunity” for external actors to meddle via political parties and vibrant civil society, and find it relatively easy to breed agents that influence public opinion through country’s media freedom. 

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Georgia’s Regional Balancing Act

Dr. Tracey German

As a small state in an unstable neighbourhood, Georgia faces significant external challenges to its ongoing democratisation and Europeanisation projects. The environment in its immediate neighbourhood has become increasingly unfavourable with a rise in illiberalism across the wider Caucasus, reflecting broader global trends. In recent months both the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have won their fourth terms of office, whilst in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to consolidate his already strong grip on power. Armenia has provided a small ray of democratic hope after Serzh Sargsyan was forced to resign as the newly installed prime minister in Armenia (after two consecutive terms as president), following the #RejectSerzh movement and widespread popular protests.

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Challenges for Georgia’s Visa Liberalization: Political Context and Statistics

Mariam Grigalashvili
Mikheil Sarjveladze

One year after the EU’s visa-free travel for Georgia went into force, visa liberalisation remains a hot topic in the country and abroad. The main challenge related to visa-free travel is the threat that the EU could suspend this regime, a possibility that has already been raised by several EU member states.  The possibility of revisioning the visa liberalization for Georgia was proposed by some EU member states due to the increased number of asylum seekers, increased crime rates and Georgian citizens’ involvement in criminal activities.

The aim of this research paper is to analyze the threat Georgia’s visa-free regime is facing and determine if the statistical data, (more…)

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Democratic consolidation in Georgia: Why does consensus matter?

Levan Kakhishvili

The lack of democratic consolidation in Georgia has become an increasingly important challenge against the background of rising populism and democratic backsliding in Europe and North America. It is widely believed that the European Union’s (EU) policy of conditionality has been the primary driver of Georgia’s democratization and advancing its reform agenda. It is vital, however, that the uncertainty in the world today does not harm the process of democratic consolidation in the country, especially as it appears that the EU has already given Georgia the most significant short-term carrots. Consensus among the political elite and Georgian society on the significance of liberal democratic values and democracy for the development of the country is a major factor in the continuation of domestic support for democratic reforms. (more…)

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Avoiding Gridlock: a Strategy for Georgia to Engage with Eurosceptic Europe

Bidzina Lebanidze
Elene Panchulidze

While EU’s door remains open to further accessions from Western Balkan countries, with current state, EU lacks the political will to give the same promise to EaP countries. For the Union the main dilemma is how to treat countries that are European but lack an immediate EU membership perspective due to EU’s current enlargement fatigue. While on the other hand, for Georgia and other EaP countries, the most important issue is how to live through the “transitional period” without losing the momentum for reforms. The uncertainty of the “transitional period” may lead to negative consequences for both Georgia and the EU, expressed in a democratic backlash, rising anti-reform and anti-EU sentiments, as well as EU’s diminished influence over the neighborhood. (more…)

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Results of the DCFTA Related Mappings of Georgian SMEs and CSOs

This publication is an integral part of the project “Georgia on the European Way: Creation of Eff ective Model for DCFTA and SME Strategy Implementation” launched in April 2017 and to be implemented by Spring 2019. The Project addresses the lack of awareness about 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 in a nation-wide DCFTA/SME communication campaign and their capacities to assist local small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) in their preparations to access the EU single market.

The project is implemented by an international consortium of non-governmental organizations and think-tanks under the leadership of the Eastern Europe Studies Center (EESC, Lithuania) (more…)

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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: How Georgia Can Resist Authoritarian Pressure

Joseph Larsen

Georgia is at a crossroads regarding its democratic development and European Union (EU) integration. Despite being a poster child for democratization in the post-Soviet space, its progress in consolidating democratic institutions has stagnated since the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party won a constitutional supermajority in 2016. Untrammeled by parliamentary opposition and operating within a system of weak checks and balances, GD’s parliamentary majority has made a number of moves that cast doubt on its commitment to further democratic consolidation. Making matters worse, Georgia is being pressured by two authoritarian neighbors—Azerbaijan and Turkey—to flout its human rights obligations. (more…)

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