“Georgian-German relations: partnership review” – GIP and IEP present a joint policy paper
On July 18, 2019 the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) hosted an event – “Georgian-German relations: partnership review” – at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. The event highlighted the particular role of Germany for Georgia’s European aspirations as well as possible ways to align mutual expectations.
GIP, together with the Institut für Europäische Politik (Berlin, Germany), presented a joint policy paper – “Georgian-German Relations in the Context of Euro-Atlantic Integration – How to Align Expectations?”. After presenting the paper, Dr. Kornely Kakachia (Director, GIP) and Viktoria Palm, (Research Associate, Institut für Europäische Politik) invited the audience to discuss the challenges and ways to advance relations between the two countries.
The discussion, moderated by Dr. Stefan Meister (Director, South Caucasus Office, Boell Foundation) featured H.E. Hubert Knirsch (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Georgia) Sophia Katsarava (Chairperson, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Parliament of Georgia), Dr. Sascha Ternes (CEO, German business Association) andDavid Usupashvili (Chairperson, “Development Movement”).
After signing the Association Agreement Georgia has reiterated its commitment to follow the European way, pushing forward with the reforms necessary for closer integration with the EU and expanding functional integration. However, while Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration continues at political level, on the societal level we can witness an increasingly visible fatigue with certain European values, such as open society and democracy, reinforced with the effects of Russia’s propaganda.
One of the major weaknesses of the current Europeanization process is the gap between Georgian society and the rest of the EU, which exists because of lacking common experiences, participation in common public debates. The Georgian public often perceives Germany as a sceptical and hesitant partner concerning Georgia’s European aspirations. For instance, the delay in granting visa-free travel to Georgian citizens was partly based on German concerns. Angela Merkel’s visit to the South Caucasus in August 2018 raised hopes in Georgia for an increased interest and support from the German side towards Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, but these expectations were largely disappointed.
At the same time, Germany was the first country to recognize Georgia’s independence and is Georgia’s largest bilateral partner in development cooperation. Furthermore, the German government supported the creation of the Eastern Partnership in 2009 and strongly advocated the signing of the Association Agreement with Georgia.