On April 13, Civic IDEA contributed to the National Endowment for Democracy’s roundtable on Georgia, current challenges, foreign policy trajectories and the role of civil society in a captured state:
CSO as a Remnant of Democracy in a Captured State: The Case of Georgia
Georgia has struggled to create a modern, European sovereign state for 30 years. The journey was rough, full of well-crafted obstructions built by Russia through violent interference or by fueling domestic conflicts. Since Russia’s brutal aggression in Ukraine started, politics in Georgia have become even uglier. The government in Tbilisi proved to be absolutely unable to operate under pressure and gave up the fight. There is a general agreement that there is a Georgia blueprint modeled after the Kremlin used by the government in Tbilisi in dealing with media, NGOs, expert community, and, more generally, all active citizens aimed at discrediting them, thus neutralizing from vibrant public life. It is all happening parallel to unprecedented opportunities for EU integration. It looks as if the Georgian government does all for not allowing progress on the European path. Over the last year and a half, we have forced the government to change or withdraw multiple outrageous decisions due to the resilience of civil society and massive peaceful protests.
It is also essential to notice that Russia is not the only player in Georgia anymore, causing worries for civil society. Year after another, China emerged as a core partner and model friend of the Georgian government. All the warning signs are enshrined in dozens of MoU, decisions, and friendly exchanges. While Georgian civil society tried its best to navigate the rather tricky and frequently dangerous environment, we constantly seek expertise, advice, and discussion with our partners and friends in search of better choices and alternatives. Abandoned by the government for the third time, we search for an answer to whether Georgian civil society can change the course of developments in Georgia once again.