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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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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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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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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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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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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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Georgia-China Relations: the Geopolitics of the Belt And Road

Joseph Larsen

China has shown a growing interest in Georgia. Cooperation is largely confined to the economic sphere. However, a stronger Chinese presence in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative could have major geopolitical significance.

This paper analyzes the current state of bilateral relations while asking a key question: Does involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative have the potential to improve Georgia’s national security situation?

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The End of Direct Presidential Elections – The Constitutional Reform Process in Georgia

Tornike Zurabashvili

As part of the ongoing constitutional reform process, the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party (Georgian Dream) intends to abolish direct election of the president of Georgia, transferring voting power from the public to a college of electors (more…)

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