The majority of people in ethnic minority groups believe that Russia is in a better position to help Georgia than the European Union
‘How well-informed are residents of Georgia about the European Union and how do they relate to it?’ A survey on this topic has been conducted for the fifth time in Georgia. As before, the research was conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) on behalf of the European Investment Fund.
A total of 2258 people were surveyed in the latest survey.
Help from the EU is important
Of all the people surveyed 45 percent were positive about the European Union,10 percent were negative and 40 percent felt neutral.
Only two percent of the population of Georgia believes that help from the EU bears no significance, while eight percent said that this help is not very important. The majority (84 percent) are convinced of the importance of such aid, of which 38 percent believe it to be ‘extremely important.’
Moreover, 41 percent of the population believes that Europe is a threat to Georgian traditions, while 49 percent of those surveyed did not agree with this analysis. The researchers reported that in 2015, the number of people with such beliefs was 15 percent higher.
Residents of Georgia first view the European Union as a political organization and then as an economic association.
The majority of those questioned (74 percent) said they associated the European Union with peace, safety and democracy.
Lack of information on the European Union
The survey revealed positive attitudes of the population of Georgia towards European integration. However, the results of the survey also show that this enthusiasm mostly reflects the hopes and expectations of the population rather than their level of information and knowledge of the European Union and its institutions.
According to research from the CRRC, 16 percent of those that were surveyed said that Georgia is currently a member of the EU. From 2009 – 2015, the number of people that believe this has steadily declined. However, in 2017 the indicators slightly increased as the same survey in 2015 found that only five percent of the population believed that Georgia was a part of the EU.
“A certain part of the Georgian population may associate the visa-free entry into EU countries with membership of the European Union,” suppose the researchers.
Differences between Georgians and ethnic minorities
The ethnic minorities of the country are less well-informed. The majority of the people who fall into these groups have trouble answering the question: What is the European Union?
As much as 54 percent of ethnic minorities believe that Russia is in a better position to help Georgia than the European Union, whereas 35 percent of the Georgian-speaking population say the European Union. Approximately one fourth of Georgian-speaking respondents believe that both Russia and the USA (24 percent and 23 percent respectively) are in a better position to help Georgia.
The research also indicated that representatives of ethnic minorities are less likely to choose the European Union than Georgian-speaking people are (15 percent compared to 35 percent) and about four times less likely to choose the USA (5 percent compared to 23 percent respectively).
- On 1 July 2016 an association agreement between Georgia and the European Union came into effect. From March 2017, citizens of Georgia received the ability to travel to the Schengen Zone without a visa for a maximum stay of 90 days.