Perceived Threats to Georgia’s Security
Russian aggression is a key security issue for Georgia. In August 2008, a war broke out over the South Ossetia region with Russia party to the war. Since the war, there have been attempts to restore economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries. Some in Georgia support a policy of having closer ties with Russia. Still, the April CRRC/NDI 2019 survey shows that the public continues to see Russia as a threat.
A majority of the population of Georgia (59%) perceives Russia-related threats as the top threat to Georgia’s security. About a fourth (24%) of the population named other issues. Around a fifth (18%) cannot identify a threat to national security of Georgia and answered “don’t know”.
Note: The threats to Georgia’s national security considered as Russia related include the response options: “Occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia”, “Russian propaganda”, “Russian military aggression”, “Economic dependency on Russia”, and “Energy dependence on Russia”.
Further analysis shows that threat perceptions vary with ethnicity, settlement type, sex, and education level. Compared to ethnic Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians are more likely to name other threats as the top issue for Georgia. In addition, minorities tend to report “don’t know” more often compared to ethnic Georgians. Compared to people in rural areas, those who live in the capital report “don’t know” rarely. People with secondary or lower levels of education say “don’t know” more often than people with higher education. Women are less likely to name other threats compared to men.
Note: On the above chart, base variables for each category are as follows: male, 18-34 age group, Georgian ethnicity, rural, higher than secondary education, and Georgian Dream supporter. The category “No party” consists of individuals that responded none or don’t know when asked which party was closest to them. The liberal group consists of New Rights, Bakradze-Ugulava - European Georgia, the Republican Party, the Free Democrats, the New Political Center – Girchi, the Movement State for the People, Political Platform - New Georgia, and European Democrats. The other grouping consists of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, Free Georgia, Democratic Movement – United Georgia, Left Alliance, Industry will save Georgia/Industrialists, the Georgian Conservative Party, the Georgian Labor Party, the Unity of Georgian Traditionalists, Tamaz Mechiauri for United Georgia, and Georgian Troupe.
Different political parties have different views about Georgia’s relationship with Russia. Yet, there is no significant difference between Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) supporters when it comes to threat perceptions. However, compared to GD supporters, those who identify with liberal parties are less likely to name other threats. In contrast, supporters of parties in the other grouping compared with liberal ones tend to name threats besides Russia more often. Those who report that they do not support a particular party are more likely to report they do not know what Georgia’s top security threat is, and they are less likely to mention a Russian threat.
While parts of Georgia are occupied by Russia, some do not see Russia related threats as the primary security issues the country faces. Still, a majority do. Ethnic minorities tend to name Russian threats less than ethnic Georgians. Support for different parties is also associated with threat perceptions, with parties outside the mainstream being less likely to name Russia as a threat.
Note: The above analysis is based on a multinomial logistic regression analysis, where the dependent variable is the top threat to Georgia’s national security. The independent variables are party support, gender, age group, ethnicity, settlement type, education, and household economic status. Replication code of the full analysis is available here. The data used in the blog is available here.
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By: Dustin Gilbreath
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[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.]
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