On September 15th 2011, the former American Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, delivered a speech at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies about NATO’s past development, present capabilities and future challenges. The second part of the speech addressed relations between NATO and Georgia. According to Ambassador Volker, the enlargement of the alliance will not be on the agenda during the next summit in Chicago.
Even though there is no indication of Georgia’s possible membership in the near future, the majority of Georgians continue to support their country’s membership in NATO.
So what does the data tell us about Georgian support for NATO membership? Data from the 2009 and 2010 Caucasus Barometer (CB) again allows a closer analysis of three aspects that influence Georgian attitudes: age, education and trust towards the executive government.
According to the 2010 CB, 70% of Georgians support NATO membership and this number has increased by more than 10% since 2009 (from 59%).
Additionally, full support for NATO membership has increased among young people. The 2009 CB shows that one third (33%) of Georgians between the ages of 18 to 35 fully supported Georgia’s NATO membership, followed by 31% between the ages of 36 to 55 and 20% for those aged 56 or more. However, according to the CB 2010, full support among the younger generation has increased to 44%, while this figure is 29% for the other two age groups, respectively.
Apart from age, education level influences support for Georgia’s accession to NATO. People with higher education are more supportive of Georgia’s NATO integration. Specifically, 44% of Georgians with higher education fully support Georgia’s membership in NATO (37% in 2009). There is a small difference between people with secondary education (29%) and those with secondary or lower (32% and 22%, respectively in 2009) education.
Trust towards the Georgian executive government is a third pattern that affects support for membership. 61% of Georgians who fully trust the executive government fully support Georgia’s membership in NATO. This figure is 34% among those who fully distrust the executive government.
Thus, the majority of Georgians support joining NATO even though Georgia does not have official candidate status for membership and will not obtain candidacy status during the next NATO summit in Chicago.
The dataset is available online, if you want to pursue further analysis on factors influencing. [LINK]