Knowledge of visa-free requirements falls since launch of scheme
Georgian citizens have been able to travel visa free within the Schengen zone for approaching three years, the result of several years of complex dialogue and policy reform. Despite the elapsed time, and a major EU-funded public information campaign, the results of the 2019 Survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia (EU Survey) suggest that public knowledge of requirements for visa free travel have fallen since the scheme launched. Similarly, the same period has seen a large rise in the number of Georgian citizens being denied entry to EU countries, with Eurostat reporting over four thousand such cases in 2018 alone, up over a third since 2017.
For a Georgian citizen to enter the Schengen zone under the visa-free regime, the following documents are required:
- A biometric passport;
- Proof of financial means to cover expenses;
- A return ticket;
- Proof of address during stay (for example a hotel reservation).
In both the 2017 and 2019 waves of the EU survey, respondents were asked about their knowledge of requirements for documentation, length of stay, and right to work. The data suggest a marked decline in areas of knowledge asked about aside from the requirement for a biometric passport and the duration of stay. Falls were seen in awareness of the need for proof of address during the stay, proof of financial means to cover expenses, and a return ticket. In addition, there was a steep decline in knowledge of whether or not one can work during a stay.
To better understand who is more and less aware of the above requirements, a simple additive index describing an individual’s overall understanding of the EU requirements outlined above was developed. Correct responses to the above questions are counted as one point, resulting in knowledge scale from 0-6, with a score of zero representing no correct responses and six representing fully correct responses. Overall, across both waves, less than one percent of respondents answered all six questions correctly, with 13% answering none correctly. The average score on the index decreased from 2.6 in 2017 to 2.2 in 2019.
Scores on the index in 2019 are associated with the sex, age, ethnicity, employment status, education level, and internet use. After accounting for other factors, there is no significant differences in awareness between people living in Tbilisi, other urban areas, and rural areas. Younger people, men, people with tertiary education or higher, ethnic Georgians, the employed, and regular internet users are more likely to have better knowledge of the requirements for visa free travel on average, all else equal. By far the largest observed difference was for ethnic minorities, who are predicted to score one point lower on the knowledge index than ethnic Georgians.
This pattern is reflected in minorities reporting lower levels of awareness across all questions asked, except travel insurance. For example, 56% of ethnic minority respondents knew about the need for a biometric passport compared to 81% of Georgians survey – a 35 percentage point difference. Similarly large differences between Georgian and minority respondents were observed in correct responses relating to the right to work and financial requirements for entry, with minority respondents as a group respectively scoring 17 and 14 percentage points lower than their ethnic Georgian counterparts.
Although ethnic minorities are consistently less aware of visa free regulations, the overall decline in awareness appears to be driven by a fall among ethnic Georgian respondents. Between 2017 and 2019, there is a rise along some dimensions of knowledge of the requirements reported by ethnic minority groups. However correct responses from ethnic Georgian respondents have fallen in three of the six domains asked about.
While knowledge is lower among ethnic minorities, their knowledge has increased between waves of the survey along some dimensions. In contrast, awareness of the rules of visa free travel have been on the decline among the ethnic Georgian population.
With the available data, it is not possible to identify the source of the higher baseline (2017) scores for ethnic Georgian respondents vis-à-vis ethnic minorities, nor the driving factors behind their divergent changes over the past two years. This noted, this pattern would be consistent with the hypothesis that previous information campaigns may have been more effective in reaching ethnic Georgians than minority groups, and that public awareness has slipped as this issue has fallen from national headlines.
Substantial numbers of Georgian citizens have been denied entry to the EU since the introduction of visa-free travel, a process which generates significant financial costs and personal distress for the individuals concerned. In this context, it is concerning that the Georgian public’s knowledge of requirements for visa-free travel to Schengen zone countries has fallen since 2017 – suggesting a need for renewed messaging around the details of the scheme.
Furthermore, whilst there are some differences between knowledge across many demographic categories, ethnic minority groups display substantially lower knowledge than any other group. As such, for any renewed information campaign to be effective, it should take concrete steps to ensure the inclusion of ethnic minority groups.
Note: The data presented in the above blog post is available here. Replication code for the regression analysis is available here.
Interview by Dustin Gilbreath
By: Dustin Gilbreath
CRRC’s third annual Methodological Conference: Transformations in the South Caucasus and its Neighbourhood
[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]
[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the second blog post in the series. Click here to see the first blog post.]
CRRC’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) was launched in 2009 as a Carnegie Corporation initiative within the CRRC, with the goal of providing on-the-job training opportunities in applied research for young social scientists.
In August 2012 CRRC launched the study of Georgia’s Workforce Development system, commissioned by the World Bank. Document review and key informant interviews have been used as main research methods in this study. On 19th of December, the World Bank office in Tbilisi hosted a workshop which aimed at presenting and validating the preliminary finding...
As Georgians prepare for parliamentary elections set for October 1, 2012, political parties have entered the final stage of the pre-elections race. One of the important attributes of active citizenship and civic engagement is voting in elections. This blog explores Georgians’ attitudes toward voting in elections based on age group and gender differences. In this r...
By Till Bruckner
By Nino Zubashvili
By Dustin Gilbreath
In terms of the business findings, CRRC's Media Survey (undertaken in September/October 2009) generated extensive data that is available to help media make good business decisions. One recent presentation, summarized here, focused on showing the diversity of data that is available.
Food Safety in Georgia: views from retailers, producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti
Book Review | The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict and Nationhood in the Caucasus | Christoph Zürcher
Brookings Index of Regime Weakness | State Rebuilding or State Collapse in the Caucasus | The Annals of Data
Here are some basic tips and tricks we found useful.
Book Review: Georgia Diary: A Chronicle of War and Political Chaos in the Post-Soviet Caucasus | Thomas Goltz
Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
On December 1-13, 2016, CRRC-Georgia asked the population of Georgia about their New Year’s plans. Unsurprisingly, people mostly follow established traditions. A large majority (73%) plan to ring in the New Year at home. Nine per cent will meet it in a friend’s or a relative’s home. Meeting the New Year in the street or in a restaurant or a café is not yet common, and only one per cent of people in Georgia plan to do so. Another 15% had not decided in the first half of December where they would celebrate the New Year.
What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.
In the December 2017 CRRC/NDI survey, pollution was the second most commonly named “infrastructural” issue, with 23% of the population choosing it in the respective show card. Only roads were named more often, by 33%. Approximately equal shares of men and women named pollution: 25% of women and 20% of men; similarly, there was no difference in the frequency of naming this issue by age.
The Caucasus Barometer survey regularly asks people, “Which of the following statements do you agree with: “‘People are like children; the government should take care of them like a parent’ or ‘Government is like an employee; the people should be the bosses who control the government.’” Approximately half of the population of Georgia (52%) agreed in 2017 with the former statement and 40% with the latter. Responses to this question have fluctuated to some extent over time, but overall, attitudes are nearly equally split.
In early December 2017, two schoolchildren were killed on Khorava Street in Tbilisi. On May 31st, 2018, Tbilisi City Court announced the decision on the Khorava Street murder case. The announcement caused mass demonstrations led by Zaza Saralidze, a father of one of the murdered children.On June 19-26, 2018, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey on people’s knowledge about the Court decision and their evaluation. The survey resulted in 1005 completed interviews, and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.8%.
Livestock care and livestock-related decision making in rural Georgia: Are there any gender differences?CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted in August 2017 for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked about livestock owned by rural households in Georgia, including cows, bulls, buffalo, pigs, sheep, and goats. Cows and bulls were reported to be owned most commonly. Some of the questions the project addressed the division of tasks between men and women in taking care of livestock, while other questions tried to find out whether there were gender differences in making major decisions related to livestock and livestock products.
The 2018 presidential elections, and particularly, the events surrounding the second round, have come to be considered a setback for Georgia’s democratic trajectory. Between the first and second round, it was announced that 600,000 voters would have debt relief immediately following the elections, leading some to suggest this was a form of vote buying. A number of instances of electoral fraud were also alleged. The use of party coordinators around election precincts was also widely condemned.
But what do people want?
Georgians are enthusiastic in supporting the country’s accession to the European Union. Since 2012, when the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia started tracking attitudes, three quarters of Georgians approved of the government’s goal of joining the EU, on average. What motivates Georgians to support the Union, or alternatively, to abandon support? A survey experiment included in the latest CRRC/NDI poll suggests potential economic burdens have a modest yet significant effect on support for membership. Results do not support the common belief that a potential military threat from Russia dampens Georgians’ support for the EU.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
The 2019 survey on Knowledge and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia which CRRC Georgia carried out for Europe Foundation suggests that this trend is continuing in Georgia.