Friday | 04 March, 2011

Understanding Georgian EUphoria: I am Georgian, therefore I am European! But am I also then an EU supporter?

Georgians are in a state ‘EUphoria’. That is one of the claims made by academic Martin Muller in his article entitled “Public Opinion Toward the European Union in Georgia” in the latest edition of Post-Soviet Affairs (2011 27,1 pp. 64-92). Data used in this article are based on a 2009 CRRC survey called “Knowledge and Attitudes Towards the EU”. With 77% of the population in favor of EU membership, positive attitudes to the European Union (EU) in Georgia ‘dwarfs’ those in the other countries that constitute the EU’s Eastern Partnership – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. Given this ‘Euro-enthusiasm,’ Muller’s paper asks: What are the determinants of positive attitudes to the EU amongst Georgians?

Muller explores a range of possible explanatory factors for pro-EU attitudes in Georgia including socio-cultural background (age, sex, education, ethnicity), economic situation, knowledge of the EU, political beliefs, cosmopolitanism (foreign languages, study abroad etc.), instrumental gain from closer ties to the EU, and attitudes to Russia. Conducting a multivariate regression of CRRC data the study isolates key predictors of pro-EU attitudes. The results turn up some surprising relationships between the variables that will be potentially of interest to the wider public as much as to policy-makers.

For one thing, on Muller’s analysis, late Prime Minister’s Zurab Zhvania’s proclamation that ‘I am Georgian, therefore I am European’ does not translate into ‘I am Georgian, therefore I am European and therefore an EU supporter’. In fact, Muller’s conclusions suggest that cultural identification with Europe is a weaker predictor of EU support than a range of other factors. What are these factors? A fear of Russia? Economic status? Support for the ruling party? To find out the answers to these questions, the article can be accessed at: