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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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GIP Interview w/ Luke Coffey on NATO-Georgia Relations

A case for Georgia’s membership in NATO by Mr. Luke Coffey, Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National security and Foreign Policy, at the Heritage Foundation. Recently, Mr. Coffey authored a report “NATO Membership for Georgia: In US and European Interest”, which sparked great interest among the Georgian audience. Attending a conference in Tbilisi on February 8, organized by Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), Mr. Coffey was kind enough to answer a few questions about NATO-Georgia relations. Interview by Levan Kakhishvili, GIP Analyst.

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Making Georgia’s democracy work: Western political conditionality and domestic agendas of Georgian political parties

Bidzina Lebanidze

External democracy promotion has not brought any tangible results to most countries in the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), contrary to Western expectations. Georgia has been one of the few exceptions to that trend, however. The Black Sea country has advanced in terms of good and democratic governance over the last ten years and, even though the democratization process in Georgia remains unfinished, the country has experienced a number of democratic breakthroughs and, overall, democratic quality has increased. (more…)

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Assessment of 2017 by Georgian and international experts

The Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) conducted a survey to sum up 2017 as part of the “expert polls” project. The poll collected opinions and assessments about the ongoing political and economic processes in the country and its future prospects from 20 well-informed Georgian and international observers. Both Georgian and international experts expressed similar opinions, which served as a good reflection of the ambivalent results achieved by the Georgian government in terms of democratization, social, economic and foreign policies in 2017.

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Mitigating Russia’s Borderization of Georgia: A Strategy to Contain and Engage

Kornely Kakachia, Levan Kakhishvili,
Joseph Larsen, Mariam Grigalashvili

Russia’s use of military, political, and informational tactics to manipulate unresolved conflicts is a dynamic process. One novel warfare tactic Russia has employed since 2009 is the “borderization” of Georgia’s territory. The tactic of borderization serves Russia’s strategy of undermining Georgia’s sovereignty, including its democratic development and independent domestic and foreign policies. Borderization is a new phenomenon, (more…)

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Life Without EU Membership: The Case for a Multi-Speed EaP

Bidzina Lebanidze

The recent Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Brussels highlighted once again the gap between the expectations of the Eastern partners and the European Union. The advanced Eastern partner countries aspire for nothing less than full EU membership – something which the European Council is not ready to offer. Yet, the exclusive focus on the rather distant membership perspective has overshadowed more acute problems: for many, the EaP format itself is considered inherently ineffective undermining of the EU’s soft power in Eastern partner countries. (more…)

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