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Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia. Trends and Variations 2009 – 2015

On November 25, 2015, Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF)  presented its  survey report entitled Knowledge and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia: Trends and Variations 2009 – 2015

The report presented the results of a study into the Georgian citizens’ knowledge of and attitudes towards the European Union. and looked at the results of the four waves of surveys conducted in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, attempting to identify trends and highlight changes in both knowledge and attitudes of the population of Georgia. Ms. Ketevan Vashakidze, President of Eurasia Partnership Foundation presented the major findings of the survey and respond to questions from the audience. Mr. Janos Herman, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia, Ms. Martina Quick, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Georgia, Mr. Johannes Douma, the Ambassador of the Kingdom if the Netherlands to Georgia, provided their opinions regarding the findings of the survey.

The following are some of the findings that EPF would like to highlight:

  • Georgian citizens associates the EU with democracy. A vast majority of citizens agree that the EU is a source for peace and security in Europe and that it is a democratic union that promotes democracy in countries outside the EU.
  • The citizens are now better aware of the EU, than they were in 2009. However, the population’s knowledge of a number of issues is still limited; for example, Georgians require more information about the EU institutions, agreements reached between Georgia and the EU, and the projects implemented in Georgia with support from the European Union.
  • As expected, there are disparities between the levels of knowledge between the country’s rural and urban populations, with the widest gap observed between the knowledge reported by the residents of Tbilisi and ethnic minorities residing outside Tbilisi.
  • The majority of Georgian citizens believe that they do not receive sufficient information about the EU, with almost half of the respondents noting that they would like to receive more information about the EU.
  • The majority of the Georgian population believes that, compared with the United States and Russia, the EU can better assist Georgia. However, a large segment of ethnic minorities disagrees with this view.
  • The majority also believes that Georgia needs the EU’s assistance. However, the population believes that the EU support primarily benefits high-ranking public officials and questions the purposefulness of EU assistance.
  • The direct support of the Georgian population for the EU integration has decreased from 78% to 62% since 2013.However, the overall attitude towards the EU is still highly positive and Georgians strongly support the country’s European integration.
  • Territorial conflicts are named most commonly (43%) as the factor impeding Georgia’s accession to the EU, distantly followed by political instability, an underdeveloped economy, and problems with Russia.
  • Even though 56% of the Georgian population agrees with Zurab Zhvania’s famous statement “I am Georgian, and therefore I am European,” European identity does not represent even a somewhat significant, let alone key, element of the population’s self-identification.
  • The share of Georgian speakers who think that the government should be like a parent rather than an employee hired by the citizens, has remained unchanged since 2009. However, the corresponding share of ethnic minorities has decreased between 2013 and 2015.

The survey was conducted with support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Netherlands to Georgia. The survey was conducted by CRRC Georgia.

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