Georgia: European engagement in an unstable environment

20-02-2017

Georgia is one of the European Union's advanced partners in the Eastern Partnership region. Following the Rose Revolution of 2003, the Georgian government implemented radical reforms to promote democratisation, step up the fight against corruption and liberalise the economy. However, the government's top-down approach, the 2008 war with Russia and the global economic crisis of 2009 propelled the opposition coalition, Georgian Dream, to electoral victory in 2012 and once again in 2016. The fact that, once ousted from power, the ruling party – United National Movement – did not disband but went into opposition is exceptional in the context of the Eastern Partnership countries and a sign of democratic consolidation. Since 2012, Georgian Dream has largely adhered to its policy of seeking closer links with the EU and carrying out reforms, albeit at a slower pace. Nevertheless, the government has been criticised for politicising the judiciary, especially when dealing with the opposition. Since the war between them in 2008, Georgia and Russia have had few contacts with each other at international level; nevertheless, the situation has improved in economic terms, not least because of the Georgian Dream coalition's pragmatic orientation towards Russia. However, the latter still supports the two separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and there is no improvement in this regard. In 2014, Georgia and the EU signed an association agreement, and Georgians are expected to soon be able to travel visa-free to the EU.

Georgia is one of the European Union's advanced partners in the Eastern Partnership region. Following the Rose Revolution of 2003, the Georgian government implemented radical reforms to promote democratisation, step up the fight against corruption and liberalise the economy. However, the government's top-down approach, the 2008 war with Russia and the global economic crisis of 2009 propelled the opposition coalition, Georgian Dream, to electoral victory in 2012 and once again in 2016. The fact that, once ousted from power, the ruling party – United National Movement – did not disband but went into opposition is exceptional in the context of the Eastern Partnership countries and a sign of democratic consolidation. Since 2012, Georgian Dream has largely adhered to its policy of seeking closer links with the EU and carrying out reforms, albeit at a slower pace. Nevertheless, the government has been criticised for politicising the judiciary, especially when dealing with the opposition. Since the war between them in 2008, Georgia and Russia have had few contacts with each other at international level; nevertheless, the situation has improved in economic terms, not least because of the Georgian Dream coalition's pragmatic orientation towards Russia. However, the latter still supports the two separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and there is no improvement in this regard. In 2014, Georgia and the EU signed an association agreement, and Georgians are expected to soon be able to travel visa-free to the EU.