How far can Georgia move from the West (and can it be reversed)?


The ruling Georgian Dream party’s anti-Western rhetoric and democratic backsliding has diverted Georgia down a road away from its key Western allies, argues analyst Ghia Nodia, professor of politics in Ilia Chavchavadze State University in Tbilisi, Georgia, and head of the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD).

Until this is rectified, Georgia may be stuck on the waiting list for some time yet. But all hope is not lost – regardless of the government’s current actions and contradictory statements, Georgia’s highly active and pro-European civil society may hold the key in getting their country back on track towards its European future, he writes for the Center for European Policy Studies:

To be sure, important as this is, the government’s anti-Western rhetoric is not Georgia’s only or gravest problem. Its gravest problem is the continued trend of democratic retrenchment and the unwillingness of the ruling party to recognise the problem and deal with it. It is this that made the EU decide not to grant Georgia official candidate status. … Issues linked to the development of democratic institutions in Georgia and attitudes to Europe have, however, always been interlinked. The current government, as well as its predecessors, have also exhibited autocratic instincts and public institutions and civil society have not been powerful enough to effectively contain them.

Georgian society’s determination to pursue a European path is the chief ground for
optimism, adds Nodia, a former Reagan-Fascell fellow and Lipset lecturer at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Therefore, there is a chance that the negative trend will eventually be reversed. Georgia’s highly active and pro-European civil society, including the opposition parties, may hold the key. RTWT

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