Monday, January 15, 2018

One in six in Georgia think the country is a member of the EU

[Note: This article was co-published with OC-Media and written by Dustin Gilbreath, a Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia or any related entity.]


Recent years have seen Georgia’s ties to the European Union grow, with the Association Agreement, including the preferential trade regime it introduced known as the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area signed in 2014 and the granting of visa liberalisation for citizens of Georgia in 2017.

Both represent significant steps towards integration with the EU for Georgia. As part of reaching these milestones, Georgian legislation is being harmonised with the EU’s in a number of fields. The country, however, is currently neither a member of the EU nor even a candidate for membership.

Recent steps towards closer EU integration may have lead some in Georgia to mistakenly believe the country is an EU member. Sixteen percent of the population of Georgia reported in May 2017 that the country was a member of the European Union, and a further 10% answered ‘don’t know’, according to the fifth wave of the Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU survey), which CRRC-Georgia carried out for the Europe Foundation.

By comparison, in 2015 only 5% of the population thought Georgia was a member and 12% reported not knowing. While the data show no notable changes over time for people of different age groups (2015, 2017), the answers provided by men and women, as well as those provided by ethnic Georgians, did change between 2015 and 2017.

The increase in thinking the country is a member of the EU is mainly among the ethnic Georgian population. While in 2015 the ethnic minority population reported that Georgia was a member of the EU slightly more often than the rest of the population, in 2017 ethnic Georgians reported that Georgia was an EU member at the same rate as the ethnic minority population. The share of the ethnic minority population who reported that they didn’t know whether Georgia was or was not a member of the European Union increased by 11 percentage points between 2015 and 2017.


Ethnicity aside, it also appears that women were more likely to be mistaken about Georgia’s EU membership than men in 2017. While only 6% of women thought that Georgia was a member of the EU in 2015, 22% did in 2017. By comparison, 5% of men thought that Georgia was an EU member state in 2015 and 10% reported so in 2017. This increase has no clear explanation and requires further research.


This misperception suggests that clearer communications are needed about Georgia’s relationship with the EU, and Georgia’s status in the EU integration process.

The data used in this article is available from CRRC-Georgia’s Online Data Analysis Tool.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Visa liberalization: Which groups in Georgia are expected to benefit most from it?

The introduction of visa free travel to the Schengen zone countries for Georgian citizens was one of the most prominent news stories in Georgia in 2017. It was also highly publicized and presented by the country’s government as a significant achievement on the way to European integration. Do people in Georgia agree with this assessment? And which groups of the population does the public think will actually benefit from the opportunity? CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey results shed some light on these questions.

In Fall 2017, 40% of the population reported not personally knowing any Georgian citizen who had traveled to the Schengen zone countries visa-free in the six months since visa liberation came into force on March 28, 2017. Another 40% reported knowing such people or traveling themselves. Since the question addressed a rather short period of time (six months), the latter 40% can be considered a rather large share. Unsurprisingly, this share increases to 59% in the capital. While 20% answered “Don’t know” at the national level, only 7% did so in the capital, compared with 27% in other urban settlements and 23% in rural settlements. Quite unexpectedly, whether a person knows or does not know those who have benefited from visa liberalization does not seem to be explained by reported assessments of household’s economic situation.

CB also asked which groups of the population will benefit most from visa-free travel to the Schengen zone countries. No answer options were provided during the survey. The respondents could come up with up to two answers. According to 10%, everyone will benefit from visa liberalization, while 3% reported that no one will.




Interestingly, in a number of cases these expectations are quite different for people who personally know beneficiaries of visa-free travel or have benefited themselves, and for people who do not know those who have benefited from visa liberalization. The differences are especially prominent with students, potential short-term visitors, and the unemployed. Those who personally know beneficiaries of visa-free travel or have traveled themselves believe more that students, potential short-term visitors, and the unemployed will benefit from visa liberalization. Those who personally do not know any beneficiaries of visa-free travel have a rather pessimistic view, reporting that rich people, politicians and high level officials will benefit most from visa liberalization. Notably, they also answer "Don't know" more often.




These findings suggest that a lack of exposure to people who have actually benefited from visa liberalization may lead to a more pessimistic view of visa liberalization’s potential for citizens of Georgia. In contrast, personally knowing those who have traveled visa free appears to be connected to the belief that it’s not just the rich and powerful who will benefit from the chance to travel to most of the EU countries visa free.

To have a closer look at CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data, visit our Online Data Analysis portal after February 1, 2018.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year twice, even if you don’t believe in Santa [Re-post]

[Note: This week, we are re-posting our New Year’s 2016 blog post. Happy New Year from the CRRC-Georgia team!]

December. Cold. Christmas decorations in the streets. New Year. Champagne. Satsivi and gozinaki. Presents. Santa Claus. December 25. Or January 7? Then New Year once again, but the old one. Resolutions for the New Year and the wish on New Year’s Eve that is bound to come true.

On December 1-13, 2016, CRRC-Georgia asked the population of Georgia about their New Year’s plans. Unsurprisingly, people mostly follow established traditions. A large majority (73%) plan to ring in the New Year at home. Nine per cent will meet it in a friend’s or a relative’s home. Meeting the New Year in the street or in a restaurant or a café is not yet common, and only one per cent of people in Georgia plan to do so. Another 15% had not decided in the first half of December where they would celebrate the New Year.



Since a large majority of people celebrate New Year’s Eve at home, holiday decorations are important. Only 4% of the population does not plan to have a Christmas tree. A large majority (76%) will have an artificial tree and about one tenth (13%) a natural tree. Almost two thirds (59%) also plan to have chichilaki.

Traditionally, one of the main components of New Year’s Eve celebrations is the feast. Of the dishes from the New Year’s table, over one third of Georgia’s adult population prefers satsivi, about a fourth gozinaki, and about one tenth fried piglet.


For many, New Year’s Eve is associated with presents. About two thirds (62%) of Georgia’s population plan to buy presents for family members. Some people used to believe or still believe that presents come from the Georgian version of Santa, tovlis babua. It appears that about one third of Georgia’s adult population believed in Santa through the age of 10. However, almost one fourth (24%) never believed in Santa. Despite this, the magic of New Year’s Eve is not lost on the majority. Two thirds of the population (66%) have made a wish on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve, with its feast, tree and fireworks, is celebrated twice in Georgia. An absolute majority of people (88%) say they celebrate the so called Old New Year on January 14 as well as the ‘regular’ one, on January 1. People also seem to be interested in the Chinese calendar and closely follow which animal is the symbol of the coming year. Last year, a majority (68%) planned to or already had bought a rooster souvenir for 2017, the year of the rooster.

Just as New Year is celebrated twice, so is Christmas. About two thirds of the population (64%) believe Christmas should be celebrated on January 7, when the Orthodox Church celebrates it. However, about one tenth of people (12%) say Christmas in Georgia should be celebrated on December 25. At the same time, not so small a share of the population (18%) says that Christmas, like New Year’s Eve, should be celebrated on both these days in Georgia.