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Open Government Partnership (OGP) through the citizens’ lens – Why do we need OGP more than we think?

Ketevan Goletiani

According to the 2018 Freedom House report, Georgia remains classified as a hybrid regime with an aggregated score of 64 out of 100. Despite improvements in recent years, the country has faced setbacks in democratic development in terms of informal governance; the impact of oligarchic actors in the policy-making process; government interference with judicial independence, etc. Political corruption also remains a problem: the lack of measures to address high-level corruption resulted in a slight decline of public confidence in anticorruption institutions in 2017. Considering all these challenges, the development of democratic instruments that support open government principles is crucially important, and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) can be used as one of the effective tools in that process. (more…)

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Church and Politics or Church in Politics: How does the Georgian Orthodox Church Impact Georgia’s European Integration Policy?

Vladimer Narsia

This policy brief analyzes the role of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) in Georgian society, particularly in the context of promoting the European integration process. The paper consists of three sections: sermons and preaching that influence European integration policy; the Church-State nexus as a non-secular alliance; and the weak international links of the GOC. All three sections look at the GOC from the perspective of its level of support for Georgia’s European integration policy. While Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II can be considered an ecumenical and equivalently a European minded leader based on some of his statements, his position has not been shared by all Georgian (more…)

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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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