Who believes Georgia will regain its territorial integrity?
Georgians are split in their expectations about whether the country’s territorial integrity will be restored: when asked in the March 2018 CRRC-Georgia/NDI survey whether they agree or disagree that Georgia’s territorial integrity will be restored in the next 15 years, 35% agreed and 38% disagreed (the rest didn’t know or refused to answer). What might explain this variation in attitudes towards the future of Georgia’s territorial integrity? To find out what predicts these attitudes, this blog uses multinomial logistic regression analyses and data from the March 2018 CRRC-Georgia/NDI survey.
Beliefs about whether territorial integrity will be restored are likely to be related to a more general optimistic or pessimistic outlook on Georgia’s prospects: it is plausible to assume that people who think the country is going in the right direction are more likely to agree that territorial integrity will be restored and vice versa. Evidence from the analysis supports this: a person who believes that Georgia is going in the right direction is more likely to agree that territorial integrity will be restored compared to someone who believes that Georgia is not changing at all, and a person who believes that Georgia is going in the wrong direction or not changing at all is more likely to disagree that territorial integrity will be restored.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the analysis also suggests that support for joining the European Union and NATO and a belief that US military assistance to Georgia has increased are good predictors of a belief that territorial integrity will be restored. Even controlling for a general attitude about the direction in which Georgia is going, respondents who approve of the government’s aim to join NATO and the EU and who believe that US military assistance has increased are more likely to say they agree that territorial integrity will be restored.
Support for joining the EU and NATO are highly correlated, so two separate models were run – one using a question on approval of NATO membership, and one using a question on approval of EU membership. In model 1, approval of joining NATO is positively associated with a belief that territorial integrity will be restored. Those who believe US military assistance has increased are also more likely to have this belief. In model 2, which includes the question on EU rather than NATO membership, we see a similar pattern: support for EU membership and a belief that US military assistance has increased are both positively associated with a belief that Georgia’s territorial integrity will be restored. The effect of NATO support on believing territorial integrity will be restored is stronger than the effect of EU support on this belief.
It should be noted that the absolute number of respondents who believe that US military assistance has increased is quite small (19%). Still, 50% of this group believe that Georgia’s territorial integrity will be restored. Another variable from a question relating to defence issues provides some further insights. In both models, a belief that Georgia’s defence capabilities have worsened is associated with being less likely to agree that territorial integrity will be restored compared to those who believe those capabilities have stayed the same. However, believing that Georgia’s defence capabilities have improved is not associated with agreeing that territorial integrity will be restored.
One possible interpretation of these findings is that attitudes about the prospects for territorial integrity are not about military capabilities per se, or about international alliances and Euro-Atlantic integration alone, but more specifically about external military support. While the association between support for EU membership and believing territorial integrity will be restored may cast doubt on this interpretation, there is some evidence from the same survey that people support EU membership not only because of the potential economic benefits, but also for the prospects of greater security and, albeit to a far lesser extent, as a way of helping restore territorial integrity. However, respondents were not asked how they thought territorial integrity would be restored (or what would prevent it from being restored), so it is not possible to draw such conclusions from this survey and further research is necessary to fully explain these attitudes.
Note: The analysis uses multinomial logistic regression. The dependent variable is belief in whether territorial integrity will be restored in 15 years (‘Agree’, ‘Disagree’, ‘Don’t Know’). The base category is ‘Don’t Know’. The tables show the predicted probabilities for the following independent variables (with base category in parentheses): political direction the country is going in (no change), EITHER approval/disapproval of the government’s goal to join the EU (don’t know) OR approval/disapproval of the government’s goal to join NATO (don’t know), if Georgian defence capabilities have improved/worsened (stayed the same), if US military assistance to Georgia has increased/decreased (stayed the same). The other independent variables are sex, age group, settlement type, ethnic minority domain, and party support. The following variables were recoded as dummy variables and tetrachoric correlation was used to test the extent to which pairs of variables were correlated with each other: approval/disapproval of NATO membership, approval/disapproval of EU membership, country direction, US military assistance, and Georgian defence capabilities. The relatively high correlation between support for NATO and EU membership meant that they were not used in the same regression. All other pairs are independent of each other.
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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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