Thursday, June 23, 2011

Foreign Policy Perceptions in Turkey | new TESEV report

TESEV’s Foreign Policy Programme recently published a report entitled ‘Foreign Policy Perceptions in Turkey’, which analyses Turkish attitudes towards international relations with several countries, including Armenia. The main finding of their survey regarding attitudes towards Armenia is that Turks are more supportive of undergoing various kinds of rapprochement with Armenia than they are of fully re-establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border.

Turkish perspectives on re-establishing diplomatic relations and rapprochement vary greatly depending on region. The greatest level of support for re-establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia comes from those residing in South East Anatolia, with 59% of respondents expressing their support. The most opposition comes from those residing in the Black Sea region, with 60% of respondents expressing their opposition.

Respondents from South East Anatolia also express the greatest support for economic, political and cultural rapprochement with Armenia; 62% of respondents support economic rapprochement, 60% support political rapprochement and 60% support cultural rapprochement. Respondents from South East Anatolia appear to support across the board reconciliation with Armenia, while those from other regions are more mixed in their attitudes.

Regarding attitudes towards European Union membership, 69% of respondents want Turkey to join while 26% are opposed to joining. The main reasons for supporting EU membership are the easing of visa restrictions and economic benefits. Worth noting is that respondents, by a large number, feel the greatest obstacle to EU membership is Europe’s Islamophobia.

When asked about the United States, over half (52%) of respondents feel the US is unfriendly towards Turkey, the primary reason for this being that the US thinks only of its own benefits. Despite this, more than half (53%) of respondents feel the future of relations between Turkey and the US will be positive.

Turks have very strong opinions on foreign policy in the Middle East. Respondents feel that Israel is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region (23%), followed by the US (12%) and terrorism (7%). Many Turks feel that Turkey could be a model for other countries in the Middle East, politically (72%), economically (80%) and culturally (82%). Three quarters of respondents support Turkey playing a role in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Akgün M., Gündoğar S.S., Görgülü A., Aydın E.E. 2011. 'Foreign Policy Perceptions in Turkey', TESEV.

Follow this link for the full report. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seminar Report: Perceptions about Georgia: Leading or Loosing the Struggle for Democracy

A joint seminar on May 10th by Clingendael Institute and the Eurasian Partnership Foundation (EPF), and co-sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, debated the state of the rule of law and democracy in Georgia, and the possible application of a “Georgian model” in the wider region. Following a keynote speech by Robert de Groot, Dutch Director General for European Cooperation, high level speakers and participants from the Georgian government (including Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze), parliament (including opposition leader Irakli Alasania), media and civil society, from EPF’s regional network, and the European Union were asked to present their views in three panels. These different views generated an impressive and constructive debate on the state of democracy in Georgia. The final question about a Georgian model and its applicability elsewhere in the region led to interesting, multifaceted responses. In conclusion it can be said that the debate about sensitive political issues in Georgia took place in a truly constructive atmosphere of which all participants can be proud.

A report and data presented by EPF can be downloaded from the Cringendeal website.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Works in Progress Series | List and Stats

In Georgia, we are close to wrapping up the Works-in-Progress series for this semester, which we have been organizing in collaboration with American Councils. It's been a successful run with a range of different topics and speakers.

Donnacha O Beachain comparing Georgian and Kyrgyz revolutions

Here are our stats, thanks to Timothy Blauvelt.
Presenters:   Georgians - 15%
                    US - 30%
                    UK - 25%
                    Other EU and Canada - 30%
Topics:         Politics, Policy, Political Science - 55%
                   History - 15%
                   Archeology, Ethnology, Musicology - 15%
                   Other (Economics, Social Media, Healthcare) - 15%

Ideally we would like some more Georgians to come forward and present their ongoing research projects in the future. For now, see the program we had below.

January 26: Donnacha O Beachain, Dublin City University – Kyrgyzstan 2005 and 2010
February 2: Gavin Slade, Oxford University – Overturning the Criminal Nobility
February 9:  Koba Turmanidze, CRRC – Assessing the State of Democracy: Citizen Outlook from the South Caucasus.
February 16: Tom De Waal, Carnegie Foundation – Georgia's Choices of State Models
February 23: CRRC Junior Fellows – Economic Conditions of Households in Georgia
March 2: Ryan Hughes, University of Michigan – An Archeological Survey of the Vani Site
March 9: Sonya Kleshik, CRRC – Language Policy in Georgia
March 16: John Graham, Princeton University – Pencils and Erasers: Harmonizing Georgian Chant in the Early 20th Century
March 23: Kevin Tuite, University of Montreal – Khevsur Shrine Invocations: Poetics, Performance and Agonism
March 30: Hans Gutbrod, CRRC – Social Capital in Georgia
April 6: George Welton, GeoWel @ CRRC Project – Access to Justice in Central Asia
April 13: Oliver Reisner, EU Delegation to Georgia – Contemporary Georgian Historiography
April 27: Onnik Krikorian, Global Voices – Social Media in the South Caucasus
May 4: Dan Healey, Swansea University – Medical Research in Stalin's Gulag: A Scientific Culture Behind Barbed Wire, 1930-56
May 11: Paul Crego, US Library of Congress – Strategic Patience: A Way Forward?
May 18: Thijs Rommens, K.U. Leuven – The European Neighborhood Policy and Civil Society in Georgia
May 25: Michaela Ferrari, Fulbright Fellow – Assessing Clinicians' and Women's Attitudes Toward Family Planning in Georgia
June 1: Krista Goff, University of Michigan – The Georgian-Speaking Minority in the Azerbaijan SSR
June 8: Giorgi Khelashvili, Tbilisi State University – The Soviet Legacy and Post-Soviet Foreign Policy in the Caucasus
June 15: Peter Rozic, Georgetown University – Lustration Politics: Comparative Analysis of Post-Communist Countries

If you'd like to present, let us know. Otherwise, to hear about the events, follow Works-in-Progress on Facebook.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Georgian Social Capital in the Media!

We have previously highlighted the research on social capital that CRRC has undertaken with the generous support of USAID. As we said at the time, and have argued in subsequent presentations, social capital is a missing link in Georgia. Its absence impedes social, economic and political development.

Our research has recently been picked up by media outside Georgia, providing summaries on our findings. Two of these articles begin with familiar images. “Georgia’s Not So Big Society,” in The Economist’s blog, compares generous Georgian hospitality with its hectic and impatient traffic. Thomas de Waal, in his article, “The Anatomy of Apathy,” published in The National Interest, begins his reflections with the contrast between the run-down facades of buildings and the warm and welcoming apartments within.

To read these broader reflections on social capital research in Georgia, please visit the article on the Economist website, and you can find de Waal piece's in the National Interest here.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

What’s behind the May 2011 protests in Georgia?

There have been three main protests since 2007 that have demanded the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakhashvili, to step down. These three protests have been described in detail in international and qualified local coverage, such as that on EurasiaNet and So what, from the point of view of research, are the main differences between the protests in 2007, in 2009 and in 2011?

There are a number of striking differences. First, the most recent protest has been the least attended. Reuters reported that around 10,000 people protested at the peak of the May 2011 protests. According to CRRC estimates, subsequently picked up by a lot of media, up to 60,000 people did so in 2009 and between 50,000 and 100,000 people participated in the 2007 protest.

Second, this decline in protest numbers is mirrored by a change in national sentiment about the direction in which Georgian politics is going. A March 2011 survey conducted by CRRC for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) shows that the percentage of people who say Georgian politics is going in the wrong direction has diminished since 2007.

In 2007, 40% of respondents thought that the direction of politics in Georgia was going mainly or definitely in the wrong direction, whereas in March 2011, that number was 19%. In other words, since 2007 the number of people who thought Georgia is going in the wrong direction has halved. As the slide shows, many more people now also think that Georgia is definitely going in the right direction.

Third, several media outlets have highlighted that the majority of protesters in May 2011 seemed to be above 50 years old. As Koba Turmanidze, CRRC Georgia Country Director, notes, the results from a 2011 CRRC media survey show that older people (who are not retired) continue to be less employed than younger people, and are less happy with their own and Georgia’s economic conditions than younger people. Their unhappiness may also reflect that they have been less engaged in post-Rose Revolution Georgia.

Moreover, results from the 2010 CB also show that the poorer a person considers the economic level of his/her household to be compared to most of the households around them, the more they agree that people should participate in protest actions against the government since the people should be in charge.

2010 CB-Georgia
The numbers do not sum to 100% because the ‘don’t know’ and ‘refuse to answer’
categories have been removed. Note that few people characterize their own
economic condition as "very good", thus the results are less representative.
More details on request.

This may be important in a country where 91% of the population consider rising prices to be worse than in 2008.

Next to the differences that we have identified, do you think there was anything that made the 2011 protests different to previous waves of demonstrations? (Note that you can also do some analysis yourself on our data interface ODA).

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Conference on Social Protection and Social Inclusion in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

The South Caucasus Social Protection and Social Inclusion regional conference was held in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 19th and 20th. Both the CRRC-Armenia and CRRC-Azerbaijan offices presented country reports on these issues.

Supported by the European Commission (EC), the reports provide overviews of the economic systems, labor markets and education systems in the South Caucasus. The research outlines demographic trends, and examines the modernization of the social protection systems in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Moreover, they address issues of poverty, pensions and healthcare.

Attendees of the conference, organized by the EC as well, were mostly Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian government officials from relevant ministries and agencies, as well as NGOs and research organizations.

The country reports (in English) can be downloaded from here. You will find them useful reference documents on all the issues of social protection and social inclusion in the three countries. Executive summaries are available in Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani as well as in Russian.

Friday, June 03, 2011

CRRC Starts Youth Engagement Research | European Project

As of June 1, CRRC has started work on a collaborative project on youth engagement, called MYPLACE. MYPLACE is an FP7 Collaborative Large-scale integrating project funded under the 2010 Social Sciences and Humanities call ‘Democracy and the shadows of totalitarianism and populism: the European experience’. It brings together a consortium of 16 research institutions from 14 European countries as well as 14 stakeholder public institutions (museums, NGOs, archive and document centres).

The coordinating institution is the University of Warwick. The coordinator is Professor Hilary Pilkington (Department of Sociology).

In addition to CRRC, the other project partners are:
  • Tallinn University, Estonia
  • University of SS Cyril and Methodius, Trnava, Slovakia
  • University of Bremen, Germany
  • Jena University, Germany
  • University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  • University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • ISCTE, Lisbon University Institute, Portugal,
  • ‘Region’, Ul’ianovsk State University, Russian Federation
  • Daugavpils University, Latvia
  • Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
  • University of Debrecen, Hungary
  • Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
  • Panteion University of Athens, Greece
The project runs from June 1st 2011-31 May 2015.

MYPLACE stands for Memory Youth Political Legacy And Civic Engagement. The project investigates how young people’s social participation is shaped by the shadows of totalitarianism and populism in Europe.

Why is this an important question to ask? The current generation of young people is united by the experience of growing up in a Europe that is largely free of both right and left-wing authoritarian regimes. They also share the lack of any first-hand memory of the cold war and the associated fears and prejudices that divided Europe or direct experience of living under a communist, authoritarian or fascist political regime. At the same time, they share the experience of growing up in the first global economic crisis in the post-World War Two period, which we might expect to provide the far right a fertile ‘recruitment’ ground. Moreover, because the current generation of young people in Europe has little or no experience of extremist and populist politics, it may be particularly vulnerable to radical political agendas.

Why is it important to ask this question now? In the current context of economic recession political parties and movements of the far right are becoming increasingly visible. In the 2009 European parliamentary elections, far-right political parties won substantial support in a number of EU member states. They also made parliamentary representation breakthroughs in countries where they have had little previous success. This is a pattern repeated in a number of European countries in national and regional elections.

In this context MYPLACE asks how young people’s engagement with the past is likely to shape their reception to contemporary populist political agendas. It draws no simple ‘straight lines’ from ‘authoritarian’ pasts to precarious democratic presents or futures. It is premised on the assumption that radical and populist political and philosophical traditions are pan-European and cyclical rather than embedded in discrete national ‘political cultures’ or based on rigid classifications of political heritage (‘totalitarian’, ‘communist’, ‘fascist’) and open to ‘healing’ through ‘democratization’. This makes the project genuinely trans-European.

Expertise in youth studies of the project partners means we start with a clear understanding of young people not as passive objects of political manipulation but as active political agents. Evidence from a number of ‘colour revolutions’ in countries of former communist Europe as well as anti-globalization, anti-poverty, anti-war and anti-cuts campaigns, indeed suggests that young people’s political consciousness is not a blank canvas and that young people are not only mobilised but can effectively network, organise and lead major political actions.

MYPLACE is interdisciplinary, bringing together researchers trained in a range of social sciences (sociology, politics, anthropology, psychology and cultural studies). It will include a large scale survey in 14 countries to measure young people’s political and civic participation and attitudes. Interviews and focus groups will be used to understand the meanings young people attach to such participation as well as to explore how these meanings are transmitted across generations. Around 50 ethnographic case studies of young people’s actual civic participation and political activism will also be conducted across the countries of the project.

Policy makers and practitioners are involved in the project from its outset through nationally based Youth Policy Advisory Groups. Through these groups, the project will implement its objective of creating an active and sustainable dialogue between academic, public and policy institutions. The project’s findings will feed into regional, national and EU level policy making centres as well as a range of youth activist, anti-racism/xenophobia networks. An important objective of the project is to inform policy-makers about the range of political and civic activities in which young people are involved, rather than focusing on ‘problems’ in the youth sphere.

If you want to know more, the contact details for further information about the project are the following:
  • Project Coordinator: Hilary Pilkington, Dept of Sociology, University of Warwick, h.pilkington [att]
  • Project Manager: Martin Price, Dept of Sociology, University of Warwick, M.R.Price [att]

Project website: 

For CRRC Tina Zurabishvili will be the lead on most of this project, and we will inform you about further updates through our blog. Get in touch if you want to find out more. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ask CRRC | Population Sizes and Sample Sizes

Q: The 2010 Caucasus Barometer includes about 2,000 completed interviews in each country: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. However, the three countries vary in size; the population of Armenia is just under 3 million, Georgia has a population of about 4.6 million, and the population of Azerbaijan is about 8.4 million (according to the CIA World Factbook). How can the same or a similar sample size be appropriate for each country?

A: Great question! Contrary to popular belief, the total population size has little effect on the necessary sample size. Necessary sample size is more dependent on the amount of variability between members of a population. Only one person would need to be sampled if there were no variability in a population and every member would give identical answers.

Let’s use a physical example to make this more clear:

The two populations above have the same average height, but the members of Population B have much more variability in height than the members of Population A. Thus, if you were sampling Population B you would need a much larger sample size in order to reach the same level of certainty about the population’s average height than you were if you were sampling Population A. In short, the greater the amount of variability in the population, the larger your sample size needs to be in order to capture that variability.

Other issues that affect sample size include how accurate you want conclusions drawn from the sample to be and how certain you want those conclusions to be. In making a precise statement, you could say, for example, that “from the 2010 Caucasus Barometer, our best estimate of the proportion of Tbilisi residents who have travelled to another country is 18.5%, and we are 95% sure that the true value is between 15.5% and 21.5%.” Technically speaking, 95% is our confidence level and our margin of error is 3%. Therefore, we are 95% sure that the true value lies within the range of our best estimate plus or minus 3%. To increase your level of confidence or reduce the margin of error, you would need a larger sample size -- and more money to pay for the extra interviews.

Here is one more thing worth knowing about sampling. Imagine a country of 5 million people, and a village of 500 inhabitants (both with the same amount of variability). Let’s say you require a sample of 200 from the country to reach a 95% level of confidence and a 3% margin of error. How many inhabitants of the village should be sampled to reach that same level of confidence and the same margin of error? Take a guess.

Done? The number is surprisingly high: we still need to sample one hundred and forty three inhabitants from the village. So while the country is 10,000 times the size of the village, it only requires an extra 57 people in the sample to achieve the same margin of error at the same level of confidence. In other words, one entirely counter-intuitive aspect about sampling is that small populations may still require a large proportion to be sampled to get representative findings.

In summary, while population size is one of the four factors that influence the necessary sample size for any survey (and even more factors have to be considered for complex surveys like the CB), its influence is relatively negligible.

Do you have further questions? Write a comment and let us know.