NDI Poll Reflects EU Support, Disenchantment with Government
The new public opinion survey commissioned by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S. non-profit, found that a “vast majority” of Georgians support EU integration but highlighted an increasing disenchantment with state’s democratic institutions. With 92% saying it is important for them to live in a democracy, 62% say that currently Georgia is not a democratic state.
The poll found that despite a small drop, 75% of citizens support Georgia’s eventual membership in the EU. Notably, the share of people that have identified the lack of political will by the government as the key obstacle to joining the EU jumped from 11 to 25%, becoming the major obstacle named by the respondents. In previous polls, Georgia’s lack of territorial integrity was considered the main obstacle (36%).
Similarly, 69% of Georgians remain committed to NATO membership with the majority considering Russia and the occupied regions to be the main obstacle.
The poll emphasized that 62% of respondents were aware of the 24 June decision of the European Council to grant Georgia European perspective but not a EU membership candidate status until priority areas are addressed and 56% blamed the Georgian government for not doing enough to secure the candidacy.
In that context, the poll showed that while meeting the EU candidacy criterias is important for 71% of citizens, only 32% expressed confidence that the government will actually meet those requirements.
According to NDI, a record 62% of people have said that Georgia is not a democracy, while 56% stated that the country is not a good example to its neighbors.
Significantly, the poll says that a majority of Georgians “do not think anyone – neither the government nor opposition parties – is acting in their best interest.”
Overall, Georgians “remain concerned about jobs, rising prices, and poverty, with one in three citizens saying they often struggled to buy food in the last 12 months.”
CSOs Condemn Ruling Party Campaign Against Civil Society
A group of civil society organizations (CSO) released a joint statement on 15 September which condemned the campaign of accusations against Georgia’s leading CSOs by top ruling Georgian Dream party officials, and urged them to “stop attacking and harassing non-governmental organizations.”
The statement emphasized that recent comments made by ruling party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze and MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, which questioned the income and financial transparency of several organizations, are particularly “worrying.”
They highlighted that such accusations “lack a legal basis, have a discrediting effect on civil society organizations, and threaten the existence of a safe environment for civil and human rights organizations in the country.”
In that context, the CSOs stressed that such attacks are characteristic of “authoritarian regimes” and drew a parallel with countries like Russia, Azerbaijan, and Hungary, where recent trends have been to “attack non-governmental organizations, especially human rights and democratization organizations, control their financial turnover, and declare them as foreign agents.”
The organizations stressed the fact that according to various international agreements, the Georgian government has an obligation to support civil society organizations working in the country.
President of Georgia condemns escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan
President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili posted a tweet, where she deplored the “dangerous escalation between our two neighbors and friends, Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
“A peaceful Caucasus is the path towards a stronger, developed, and more independent region benefitting the future of our populations,” President Zurabishvili emphasized.
Reports first emerged early morning on 13 September that fresh border clashes had broken out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili spoke with his counterpart Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan the same day and expressed Georgia’s readiness to act as a mediator for the de-escalation and peaceful resolution of the recent flare-up of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.