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Georgian foreign policy and NDI survey

By Messenger Staff
Monday, July 15
Certain aspects of Georgia’s foreign policy were in the scope of interest of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) research. Georgia’s foreign policy has become a hot issue since the Georgian Dream coalition won the parliamentary elections on October 1, 2012.

Immediately the defeated United National Movement (UNM) activists launched a huge propaganda campaign accusing the Georgian Dream of Russian sentiment. Despite the fact that the coalition leaders repeatedly stated numerous times that the country would not deviate from its Western orientation and it will continue striving towards the European Union (EU) and NATO integration, the UNM activists still continue criticizing the Georgian Dream leadership for its Russian orientation.

The UNM criticism was mainly based on the steps determined by the common sense approach of the new leadership towards the Georgian-Russian relationship.

First of all, the new administration started to reduce the aggressive and provocative terminology used with Russia that Saakashvili was so fond of. Secondly, the Georgian leadership repeated its commitment to the regulation of the relations with Russia on all different levels. Thirdly, the Georgian government facilitated the return of Georgian wines and mineral waters, as well as other agricultural products back onto the Russian market. In addition, the new leadership provided assurance that the Georgian government would not boycott the Sochi Olympic Games and other details, which clearly showed Georgia’s sincere intention to improve its relationship with Russia and through these regulations, achieve its essential goal of the restoration of its territorial integrity.

With such a background, the current Georgian leadership continues moving to fulfill its commitment towards the EU and NATO requirements. The recent polling carried out by NDI showed that Georgia’s pro-Western orientation is supported by 73% of the people questioned during the survey while 79% supports Georgia’s integration to EU. The polling also showed that there is a more skeptical approach towards NATO.

However, overall the report showed that NATO and EU membership are still popular in Georgia; while Russia remains the major threat for the country as the polling suggests.

Observation of the polling results revealed that Georgians have become more rational in their answers; they have become rather skeptical towards Georgian-Russian relations as well as towards Georgia’s relations with the EU and NATO. Some analysts attribute this to the fact that the Georgian population became more aware of their essential freedoms; they can answer the questions without being afraid of state repression as it had been exercised during the UNM regime.