Less and less Georgians consider Russia an “enemy”

Less and less Georgians consider Russia an “enemy”

Georgian organization "Caucasian Studies Center" has published results of a public opinion poll on how Georgian citizens view Russia, which Georgian considers "occupying coutry" since 2008. This center is considered to be professional and authoritative sociological service, and the last survey was conducted under the auspices of the "Transparency International Georgia", one of the main pillars of pro-Western forces in the country. That's why the results of this survey became a surprise.

After all, both this center and Transparency in particular cannot be accused of being “pro-Russian”, they simly tell about latest trends in public opinion, one of which is that less and less citizens of Georgia consider the Russian Federation an “enemy and occupier”.

Respondents were asked simple question that only had clear answers. Sociologists asked to choose one of two options:

1) Do you think that Russia is a neighboring, orthodox state, which historically has many common values with Georgia and that, despite occupation, Georgia should have good relations with it?

2) Do you think that Russia is an enemy and an occupier, so Georgia shouldn't have good neighborly relations with it until complete de-occupation of Georgian territories - Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

44% of respondents agreed with the first answer, while 46% answered that they consider Russia an “enemy and occupier”. However, according to sociologists, the most remarkable thing about this poll is not that the second option was more popular, but a trend that can be seen in recent years. Indeed, during five or six years after the five-day war of 2008 the number of Georgians who considered Russia an enemy was much larger.

In numerous comments, representatives of the Caucasian Studies Center and the Transparency International Georgia admit that they specifically chose the most “harsh version” of question they asked and explained results by the fact that citizens who chose first option “may still not like Russia and are not pro-Russian," but remember the events of 2008 and don't want another conflict with huge neighbor. In other words, they chose this answer not because they believe in it, but because they wanted to express their desire to keep peace.

However, not everyone agrees with this interpretation. Political analyst David Avalishvili told Vestnik Kavkaza that the main factor was not the fear of another war with Russia (after all, this fear was much stonger in the first years after five-day war, but at that time majority responded positively to second option), but the events of recent years, when Moscow’s Georgian policy went through major changes, and Russia began to use “soft power”: tourism is booming, Russia has opened its markets for Georgian goods, air traffic has resumed, and situation around conflict zones - although there are certain tensions - is more or less stable.

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