IRI Poll: Absolute Majority of Georgian Citizens support EU Membership
A new public opinion poll commissioned by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and released on 25 April shows strong support of Georgian citizens for EU membership, disapproval of Russian citizens within the country, and a lack of faith in political parties.
62% of respondents said that the country is heading in the wrong direction, while 30% noted that it is going in the right direction. The figures remained unchanged compared to the previous poll conducted in September 2022. 36% of respondents consider unemployment to be the most important problem facing Georgia, followed by cost of living, high prices (19%), poverty and other economic problems (9% each), internal conflicts (5%).
When asked which party, if any, they would vote for if parliamentary elections were held next Saturday, 19% of respondents named Georgian Dream as their first choice; 14% – the United National Movement; 3% each for former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia party and Girchi – More Freedom; 2% each for Labor Party, Lelo for Georgia and Girchi.
Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia ll retained his place as the most favorably viewed public figure, with 91% favorability, followed by Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze with 52%; Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili – 48%; Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili – 43%; former PM Giorgi Gakharia and imprisoned ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili – 36% each; Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder of Georgian Dream, and Shalva Natelashvili, leader of Labor Party – 35% each.
63% of respondents consider the European Union the most important political partner for Georgia; 47% name the United States; 27% – Ukraine; 18% – Turkey; 16% – Azerbaijan. 87% of respondents said that Russia poses the greatest political economic threat of Georgia; 8%-8% – the United States and Turkey; 4% – Iran; 3%-3% -Armenia, Azerbaijan and the EU.
10% of respondents assess very positively, 30% positively, 20% somewhat negatively, and 30% negatively the government’s handling of Georgia’s relations with Russia. 10% either don’t know or refused to answer.
34% of respondents strongly oppose further dialogue with Russia; 27% – somewhat support; 26% – fully support; 9% – somewhat oppose, and 4% do not know or refused to answer.
89% of respondents fully support or somewhat support Georgia joining the European Union; 8% strongly oppose or somewhat oppose; 3% do not know or refused to answer. 80% of respondents fully support or somewhat support Georgia joining NATO; 14% strongly oppose or somewhat oppose; 6% do not know or refused to answer.
Asked whether they have heard about the draft law on “foreign agents” withdrawn by the ruling party amid mass protests, 46% of respondents said that they have heard about it and 31% noted that they have not. 42% of those respondents who have heard about the draft law said that adoption of the Law on “Foreign Agents” will undermine Georgia’s Western aspirations. 38% of respondents noted that the law is intended to silence civil society organizations and media in Georgia. The same number of respondents believe that the law brings Georgia closer to Russia and 13% think that its adoption is in Georgia’s national interests.
ECHR orders Russia to pay over 129 million Euros to Georgia
In a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the case of Georgia v. Russia (II), the Court examined the question of just satisfaction (Article 41) concerning allegations made by the Georgian Government against the Russian Federation. The case revolved around administrative practices, in connection with the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, that violated various provisions of the Convention.
The Court affirmed its jurisdiction to handle the applicant Government’s claims for just satisfaction under Article 41, despite Russia’s cessation of membership in the Council of Europe. The respondent Government’s failure to cooperate did not hinder the examination of the claims. The Court emphasized that “regarding the consequences of the respondent Government’s failure to participate in the proceedings, the Court observed that the cessation of a Contracting Party’s membership of the Council of Europe did not release it from its duty to cooperate with the Convention bodies”.
Article 41 of the Convention was deemed applicable to the victims of various administrative practices, including the killing of civilians, torching and looting of houses, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, torture of prisoners of war, prevention of return, and failure to conduct adequate investigations.
The Court ordered Russia to pay over 129 Million Euros to Georgia.
The original judgment, delivered on 21 January 2021, had already established several violations by the Russian Federation, including killings of civilians, torching and looting of houses, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, torture, prevention of return, and failure to conduct adequate investigations.
Two Georgians were detained by the Russian occupying force
According to Georgia’s State Security Service (SSSG), on 30 April representatives of the Russian occupying forces illegally detained two Georgian citizens in the occupied area near the village of Dvani, Kareli municipality.
Upon receiving information about the incident, the State Security Service activated the EU Monitoring Mission’s hotline. International partners and the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions were immediately informed of the incident.
The State Security Service says all existing mechanisms were activated in order to release the illegally detained persons as soon as possible.
According to the statement of the SSSG, “the responsibility for all destructive acts committed in the occupied territories of Georgia and along the occupation line lies with the occupying power”.
PM Garibashvili to address ultra-conservative CPAC
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvilil will participate in and address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest on 4-5 May, which will gather ultra-conservative politicians. “United We Stand” is the motto of the second annual CPAC. The first one, which also took place in Budapest last year, was centered around the values of “God, Homeland, and Family.”
Like last year, Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary will deliver the keynote address. Among other speakers are the former Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Jansa, leader of the extreme-right Austrian Freedom Party Herbert Kickl, former Czech PM Andrej Babis, and President of the Heritage Foundation, Kevin Roberts.
The Budapest Center for Fundamental Rights, a quasi-state foundation, in its tweet, hailed the participation of Irakli Garibashvili in the event and noted: “He believes that Georgia is a conservative society with unique values based on Christianity.”
The organization further noted that “gender propaganda has not been kind to Georgia, but Garibashvili believes that activists and politicians have a duty to respect the will of the majority, and the vast majority of Georgians reject propagandistic, demonstrative LGBTQ pressure.”
The Socialist Party of Europe (PES), of whom “Georgian Dream” is an observer member, strongly criticized this report. “If a prime minister from a PES observer party wants to share values with Viktor Orbán and the American Conservative Conference, then we should officially discuss the status of this party,” stated PES Executive Secretary General Giacomo Filibeck.
In addition, according to the European Socialist Party, the issue regarding the membership of the “Georgian Dream” observers was raised by PES President Stefan Lofvenm back in March. This was the time when the “Georgian Dream” was going to adopt the so-called “Russian law”.
According to PES, the revision of the status of the observer member of “Georgian Dream” will be discussed in June.