Friday, October 26, 2012

Corruption in the South Caucasus

Corruption and paying a bribe was not uncommon in the former Soviet Union. However, following the collapse of the USSR, rampant corruption began to permeate virtually every aspect of daily life in newly independent Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia (Sandholtz and Taagepera 2005). Reports by international organizations, such as Transparency International and International Alert, have revealed perceptions about the high level of corruption that has affected political, social, and economic live throughout the South Caucasus. Since the late 1990s, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have engaged in several anti-corruption campaigns (e.g., the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Implementation Action Plans in Georgia and Armenia, USAID Mobilizing Action Against Corruption (MAAC) in Armenia, and the 2012-2015 National Action Plan to Combat Corruption in Azerbaijan) that have yielded varying results. Bribing is one form of corruption that CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer has addressed. Since 2007, CRRC has been conducting the Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey on social, political, economic, and cultural processes in the South Caucasus region, and has asked several questions on bribing over the years. This blog explores data on these questions in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia based on the 2008, 2010 and 2011 surveys. The 2009 CB did not include any questions on bribes.

According to the 2008 CB survey data, 34% of the Azerbaijani population said that they, or members of their household, had been in a situation during the last 12 months when they had to pay a bribe in order to get a service or preferential treatment. In Armenia, 9% of the adult population said that they or their relatives had to pay a bribe during the last 12 months, and 4% of Georgians said the same.    

Figures may not sum to 100% due to “Don’t Know” and “Refuse to Answer” responses.

Data from the 2010 CB survey show some change in corruption rates for Azerbaijan and Georgia. In 2010, 30% of Azerbaijanis said they had paid a bribe during the last 12 months.  The rate for Armenia remained unchanged (9%), while only 1% in Georgia reported paying a bribe within the previous year.    

The 2011 CB reveals decreasing rates for all South Caucasian states. Based on the most recent CB survey, 27% of the Azerbaijani population said they paid a bribe during the last 12 months, followed by 6% of people in Armenia. Georgia seems to have been the most successful in fighting corruption with no person saying they had paid a bribe during the last 12 months.  

Even though corruption persists in many forms in the South Caucasus, the CB data show that between 2008 and 2011 the percentage of people who reported paying bribes decreased in the South Caucasus. With such a sensitive question, it is important to pay attention to the proportion of responses between the countries. What factors do you think have contributed to such differences in the region?

You can further explore the CB data sets by visiting CRRC’s interactive Online Data Analysis tool at

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Georgian Foreign Policy: Continuity or Change?

The results of the October parliamentary elections in Georgia have raised questions regarding the future trajectory of Georgian foreign policy. One of the priorities of Georgian foreign policy has been European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Will the new Georgian government initiate major changes and redirect Georgia’s foreign policy that has been supported by the National United Movement? Will Georgia promote closer cooperation with Russia? What do Georgians think about the direction of the country’s foreign relations in general? This blog specifically explores Georgians' attitudes toward the importance of strengthening ties with the EU, NATO, Russia, and the US using data from CRRC’s 2011 survey on Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia. As the CRRC data show, half of Georgia’s population is interested in the country’s foreign policy. Moreover, Georgians support closer cooperation with the EU, NATO, CIS, the US, and Russia.   

The EU survey reveals that 51% of Georgians show an interest in the country’s foreign policy. Similarly, half of the Georgian population is interested in Georgian domestic policy.

When split by age groups, about 31% of Georgians aged 18 to 35 show interest in Georgian foreign affairs. Up to 54% of the Georgian population between 36 and 55 years old tend to be interested in these matters. Finally, Georgians aged 56 or more seem to be most interested (56%) in Georgian foreign policy.

When asked about the importance of strengthening ties between Georgia and a number of political, economic, and intergovernmental organizations, 95% of Georgians believe that it is important to promote closer cooperation with the EU. The majority of Georgians (90%) also think that Georgia should strengthen ties with NATO, and although Georgia withdrew from the CIS in 2008, over half of the population (78%) thinks that Georgia should strengthen ties with the CIS.   

Georgian attitudes about political and economic cooperation between Georgia, the EU, the US, and Russia is also noteworthy. Over half of the adult population thinks Georgia should have closest political cooperation with the US (58%) and the EU (54%). In addition, 50% believe Georgia should have closest political cooperation with Russia.    

With respect to economic relations, a high percentage of the population thinks that the country should establish closest economic cooperation with the US (71%), the EU (66%), and Russia (47%). Many Georgians are also open to the prospect of having business relations with Russians. In this regard, 81% of the Georgians note that they would approve of people of their ethnicity doing business with Russians. 

In sum, data from the 2011 EU survey reveals that many Georgians show an interest in the country’s foreign policy, and consider the US, Russia, EU, NATO, and the CIS to be important to Georgia’s political and economic development. 

To learn more about the 2011 EU Survey, click here