Attitudes towards Europeans and Americans among Georgian Youth

On November 29, Georgia initialed an Association Agreement with the European Union at the EU-Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Latvia. This represents a step toward closer economic integration of Georgia into the EU. According to CRRC’s 2012 Caucasus Barometer (CB), 72% of Georgians fully or rather support Georgia’s membership to the EU, and 67% of Georgians fully or rather support membership in NATO. This would imply that Georgians have generally positive attitudes towards a political and security-based relationship with the West (i.e. EU and the United States). In addition, 59% of Georgians (especially those between 18-35 years old) agree with the statement, “I am Georgian, and therefore I am European.” Using data from the CB 2012, this blog shows that positive attitudes towards Americans and certain Europeans, such as the English and Greeks, are higher among Georgian youth.
Overall, Georgians have positive attitudes towards doing business with Americans, the English and Greeks. 79% of Georgians approve of doing business with Americans. 77% feel the same with respect to the English and 75% with Greeks. When split by age groups, approval is highest among Georgians 18-35 years old for all three nationalities. For example, doing business with Greeks has 80% approval among 18-35 year olds, 76% among 36-55 year olds, and 70% for those 56+. Approval for doing business with Americans and English follows a relatively similar trend.

Socially, approval of Georgian women marrying foreign men is relatively low (36% for Americans, 36% for the English and 35% for Greeks). However, younger Georgians are slightly more open to Georgian women marrying within these groups, than Georgians 56 years and older.

When it comes to politics, young Georgians are also more trusting of the EU, which is not surprising since 67% of Georgians between 18-35 years old see themselves as European. A caveat in these responses is that 12% of Georgians believe that Georgia is currently a member of the EU, including 17% of those aged 18-35 years old (CRRC EU Survey 2011, Georgia).

In line with their greater trust of the EU and approval of doing business with Americans, slightly more young Georgians believe that the United States is the biggest friend of Georgia, than older Georgians. In contrast, 41% of young Georgians (18-35 years old) believe that Russia is the biggest enemy of Georgia, whereas 32% of all Georgians 36 and older agree.

Younger Georgians, 18-35 years old, appear to show slightly higher approval of cooperation with the West on these specific questions. The same trends of approval exist with respect to knowledge of English and personal income. That is, in Georgia, higher levels of education, knowledge of English, and personal income are related to higher rates of approval for certain Europeans such as English and Greeks, and Americans with respect to the economic, social, and political aspects discussed above.