Re/Constructing ‘We’ and the ‘Other’ in the Context of Europeanization in Georgia

    • Presentation speakers
      • Yelda Karadağ, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey


    On January 27, 1999 the former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania declared his famous phrase “I am Georgian, and therefore I am European” at the Council of Europe; which became a clear motto of the political path of Georgia over years. Later, on 27 April 1999 when Georgia became a member state of the Council of Europe, the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Russell-Johnston, addressed the Georgian delegation with the following words – “Georgia, welcome back home!” Depending on “coming back home” claims of the both sides, the bilateral relations between Georgia and the EU had become stronger since the Rose Revolution in 2003. Georgia has significantly deepened its ties to the EU through being a part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership and the Black Sea Synergy, which have proven Georgia’s willingness to become a EU member state as well as underlining its self-proclaimed place in the ‘European family’. Although Georgia has been going through serious legislative and institutional reforms through the path to Europe, after a series of setbacks started with the 2008 War between Georgia and Russia, the Vilnius Summit in 2013, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea; the shortfall of Eastern Partnership to stimulate a more democratic environment in the signatory countries, the relations between Georgia and the European Union entered into an ambiguous process, which revealed the criticisms about the pro-European course of the country since its independence. However, currently, the European Parliament has approved a proposal on visa liberalization for Georgia, allowing conditional visa-free travel for the Georgian citizens in the Schengen area, started in March 2017. The decision of visa liberalization undoubtedly opened up a new phase regarding the Europeanization process in Georgia, as it was heralded as a remarkable victory both by the political elites and the Georgian society strengthening its self-identification/belonging with Europe as a ‘successful’ post-Soviet country. In this presentation, I will try to trace the process of Europeanization/European integration in Georgia as a post-Soviet country, yet, it identifies itself ‘as a part of Europe’ in order to reveal which norms, ideas and beliefs influence the Georgian path towards Europe. This presentation will rely on the data obtained during the field research in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with the political party members, academicians and civil society organizations. The political discourses and interactions appeared in the Georgian political environment regarding its ‘belonging’ to the Europe will be examined. Also, ‘the vocabulary’ and ‘signifiers’ articulated by the actors such as political parties, academicians, civil society members for the Georgian self-identification as ‘being European’ will be elaborated in order to unravel the dynamics/origins behind the questions that to what extent Europe has a transformatory role for Georgia considering its transition and on what basis its national identity converges and is constructed with/by Europe.