Why Biden‘s Democracy Agenda Matters: the View from a Small State

Kornely Kakachia, Bidzina Lebanidze

After turbulent years of transactional policies under Donald Trump, the revitalization of the US democracy agenda under Joe Biden has given a new hope to democracy supporters around the world including small Post-Soviet countries in the Russian neighbourhood.

While the new US democracy agenda is understandably linked to great-power rivalry and the fight against major transnational scourges, normative/value-based struggles between democracy and authoritarianism in small states do also require attention. (more…)


At the Crossroads of Consensus-Based Political Culture: Can Georgia Overcome the Polarization Trap?

Nino Samkharadze [1]


In Georgia’s endless political crisis polarization is cited most widely as the explanatory factor. The 2018 Presidential, 2020 Parliamentary, and 2021 Local elections were all characterized in international and local reports by aggressive rhetoric, verbal and physical confrontations and negative campaigning. In the prolonged post-electoral political crises, it has proved difficult to break the deadlock of destructive rivalry between the dominant powers and political turbulence still lasts. So, it is timely to discuss what exactly drives polarization in Georgia and what are the gateways to overcoming the polarization trap. (more…)


Georgia’s 3+3 Dilemma: Regional Leadership or Falling into the Aggressor Neighbor’s Trap?

Nino Samkharadze [1]

Since the 2020 Karabakh War, Turkey’s initiative to create the 3+3 regional cooperation platform has been viewed in a less positive light in Georgia because it involves Russia, alongside Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and Iran. At the same time, almost after a year from the war, in the interview with Georgian Public Broadcaster, the Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani raised the issue of importance of participating in similar regional initiatives. This statement became the subject of societal concern.

Hypothetically, among both great and small actors, the idea of cooperation may look attractive. However, despite the official position of MFA which strictly opposes the 3+3 platform, it is important to discuss whether this format is in compliance with Georgia’s national interests and threatens our strategic regional goals in the region. (more…)


The post-Merkel Germany and the Eastern Partnership: 5 Take-aways from Germany’s parliamentary elections

Bidzina Lebanidze[1]

On September 26, 2021, national elections took place in Germany. The election results were close, with the German Social Democrats (SPD) emerging with a slight lead (25.8%) over Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) (24.1%). The Greens (14.6%) finished in third place, followed by the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) (11.5%) and the far-right AFD (10.6%) (Figure 1).

The elections signal that Angela Merkel’s 16-year-long era is drawing to a close; a new government and chancellor will soon take over to guide Germany and the EU through these turbulent times. German elections matter a lot for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries too. Germany significantly shapes EU policies towards Russia and has a significant impact on the Union’s enlargement and neighborhood policies. (more…)


Op-ed: From poster child to problem child: Georgia’s democratic crisis threatens its European future

Kornely Kakachia & Bidzina Lebanidze

The recent decision of the Georgian government to refuse the second tranche of the EU’s Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) marks a new low in EU-Georgia relations amid Georgia’s declining democracy.

It was preceded by another disappointing decision of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party to withdraw from the EU-mediated agreement between the government and the opposition signed in April amid government fears of having to hold snap parliamentary elections if the GD did not receive 43% of the vote in the upcoming municipal elections slated for October 2, stipulated by the same agreement. (more…)


What Threats Does the Rejection of the EU Financial Assistance Contain for Georgia?

Photo: European Union

Nino Samkharadze[1]

[This publication was produced with the financial support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation. The views, opinions and statements expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs only and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foundation. Therefore, the Open Society Georgia Foundation is not responsible for the content of the information material].

After meeting with Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, the President of the European Council Charles Michel gave a reminder of the conditionality of the EU financial assistance on his own Twitter account.  A few days later the leaders of Georgian Dream stated that a decision had been made that Georgia might reject Brussel’s macro-financial assistance. (more…)


A Look Beyond the Red Lines in Georgian Politics: 5 Major Risks Following the Annulment of the April 19 Agreement

Nino Samkharadze[1]

On July 28, the ruling Georgian Dream party withdrew from the April 19 Agreement, a deal which had been brokered through a long mediation process with the direct involvement of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The annulment of the agreement further destabilized the existing turbulent and deeply polarized political environment in the country.  Although the EU mediation should have been a privilege for Georgia in terms of internal development, as well as (more…)


Spoiler or Ambivalent Partner: the GOC and the Fate of Georgia’s European Future

Bidzina Lebanidze[1] Shota Kakabadze[2]

The Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) has long served as both a social glue in Georgia and a significant marker of the contemporary Georgian national identity. However, over the last few years, the GOC has been drifting away from its historical position of moral superiority and political neutrality towards something more radical. This was confirmed by the involvement of some clergy members in recent violent anti-LGBTQI protests and the adoption of anti-liberal and anti-Western (more…)


State vs. Social Protests: Why Is the Protest Against Namakhvani HPP Unique?

Salome Kandelaki[1]

A group calling themselves the “Rioni Gorge guards” have been protesting against the construction of the Namakhvani Hydro Power Plant (HPP) for more than six months. The state did not communicate with the locals until the first large-scale demonstration was held in Kutaisi, which ended in vain, and the protestors’ questions remained unanswered from the authorities. In fact, the government resorted to violence to end the unrest, and dismantled the protest tents in response to (more…)