Thursday | 22 July, 2010

Attitudes toward the West | Caucasus Analytical Digest

Following an article on Georgians’ attitudes toward Russia, CRRC Fellows Therese Svensson and Julia Hon have written a new piece for CAD, entitled “Attitudes toward the West in the South Caucasus”. Their article looks at citizens’ views on three areas of relations — political, economic and cultural — between the South Caucasus and the West, in particular NATO, the US and the EU. The data were derived from the South Caucasus–wide 2007 and 2008 Data Initiatives (DI), as well as from the 2009 EU survey that was conducted in Georgia.

The article highlights several figures which show that citizens in the South Caucasus, and especially those in Georgia, are keen to cooperate with the West on economic and political levels. For example, on a ten-point scale — where '10' equals full cooperation and '1' is no cooperation — 80 percent of the Georgian respondents ranked their desire for economic cooperation with the U.S. in the top five categories, compared with 71 percent in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The percentages on potential NATO membership, by contrast, vary more widely in the three countries: while 42 percent in Georgia said they are fully in favor of membership, 21 percent said the same in Azerbaijan, and only 10 percent in Armenia.

But the most fascinating figures arise when the subject of cultural relationships comes up. Although citizens in the South Caucasus are open to friendship and doing business with citizens of the West, they seem less keen on Western cultural influences, which they view as potential threats to their own cultural identity and traditions. In all, 64 percent and 63 percent in Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively, either strongly or somewhat agreed with a statement that "Western influence is a threat to [national] culture". Twenty-four percent in Georgia said the same, while 34 percent chose "neutral" as their answer.

Perhaps understanding exactly which elements of Western culture are seen to be threatening, and in what way, would be a topic of additional interest.

For the full article, go here.