07TBILISI2074, USAID SURVEY REVEALS POSITIVE ATTITUDES TOWARD NATIONAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2074 2007-08-17 12:23 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3175
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2074 2291223
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171223Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7348
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 002074 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KDEM GG
SUBJECT: USAID SURVEY REVEALS POSITIVE ATTITUDES TOWARD NATIONAL 
INTEGRATION IN GEORGIA 
 
 
1.  Summary:  On July 19, the USAID-funded National Integration and 
Tolerance in Georgia (NITG) program implemented by the UN 
Association of Georgia (UNAG) (http://www.una.ge/eng/) presented the 
results of a survey of national minorities in Georgia.  The survey 
revealed that the overwhelming majority of ethnic Azeri and Armenian 
minorities consider Georgia their homeland sharing a strong sense of 
identification with Georgia among ethnic minorities. However, a lack 
of Georgian language skills among ethnic minorities was identified 
as an ongoing challenge to integration. End summary. 
 
2.  The survey was based on interviews with 2,400 people throughout 
the country, monthly media monitoring, desk research, and focus 
group meetings.  The purpose of the survey was to inform the 
Government of Georgia (GoG) as it prepares to draft a strategy and 
action plan for national integration and tolerance in Georgia.  The 
research will also constitute a baseline for measuring the impact of 
the NITG program and the government's integration policies.  The 
research results highlighted attitudes on ethnic diversity and 
integration issues among minority groups in Samtskhe-Javakheti and 
Kvemo Kartli, as well across the Georgian population nationwide. 
Freedom House - Europe assisted UNAG to develop the research 
methodology and contributed to the survey report. 
 
3.  National Minorities View Georgia as Homeland: The NITG survey 
results revealed that the overwhelming majority of national or 
ethnic minorities in southern Georgia consider the country to be 
their homeland.  In the predominantly ethnic Azeri region of Kvemo 
Kartli, 98% of non-ethnic Georgian respondents considered Georgia to 
be their homeland.  In the predominantly ethnic Armenian region of 
Samtskhe-Javakheti, 80% of non-ethnic Georgian respondents 
considered Georgia to be their homeland.  Given the long history of 
political, economic, and social isolation of these regions from the 
rest of Georgia, the results show a reassuringly strong sense of 
identification with Georgia among ethnic minorities. 
 
4.  The survey also explored voter participation in the October 2006 
Local Government Elections and revealed that ethnic minority 
respondents registered high levels of voter participation in the 
elections.  In Kvemo Kartli, 76% of respondents said they voted in 
the elections.  In Samtskhe-Javakheti, 81% of respondents said they 
voted in the elections.  These figures imply a high level of 
confidence in democratic processes in these regions.  Attitudes 
toward ethnic minorities among Georgian citizens in general were 
also shown to be positive.  When asked whether minority rights 
should be protected in Georgia, 91% of respondents nationwide 
responded positively. 
 
5.  Considerable Challenges Remain:  While clarifying positive 
attitudes, the survey data also revealed numerous ongoing challenges 
facing ethnic minorities in Georgia, including geographic isolation, 
low levels of Georgian language proficiency, limited language 
accessible media availability, and poor levels of political 
representation by minorities.  The USG and GOG are actively working 
to eliminate the physical isolation of ethnic Azeri and Armenian 
communities.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation program in 
Georgia includes a project to construct a road from Tbilisi to a 
major city in the minority ethnic Armenian region of 
Samtskhe-Javakheti, and the GOG is investing considerable sums in 
road infrastructure improvement projects in both the ethnically 
Azeri Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. 
 
6. The low levels of Georgian language skills among ethnic 
minorities were highlighted in the survey results.  Among 
non-Georgian residents in Kvemo Kartli, 83% of respondents did not 
speak Georgian.  Among non-Georgian residents in Samtskhe-Javakheti, 
75% of respondents did not speak Georgian.  As Georgian is the 
official language, the low level of proficiency in Georgian among 
ethnic minorities is a clear challenge to integration into Georgian 
society which acts as a disincentive to travel and commerce. 
 
7. The survey also revealed numerous other challenges, including 
access to local media, with over 40% of respondents in both Kvemo 
Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti viewing Azeri and Armenian TV; 
unemployment; and low levels of political representation of 
minorities' communities in Tbilisi. (Note: Recently passed 
legislation requires politicians to be able to speak Georgian to 
hold office. End note.) 
 
8. Conclusion:  The NITG survey shows that Georgia is making 
progress toward greater integration of its ethnic minorities. 
Ethnic Azeris and Armenians, two of Georgia's traditionally most 
isolated ethnic minority groups, overwhelmingly identify with 
Georgia as their homeland.  Furthermore, the USG and GOG are taking 
dramatic steps to advance the physical integration of these regions 
through large scale road infrastructure proj
ects.  That said, the 
survey results also show that challenges remain, including low 
levels of Georgian language skills, poor access to local media, 
unemployment, and under-representation in the government. 
PERRY

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