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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. (more…)


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…)


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…)


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…)


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…)


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. 



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…)


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…)


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…)


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…)