Thursday, June 13, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Georgians Far Less Worried about Territorial Integrity than Azerbaijanis Are, CRRC Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 13 – Despite the de facto independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since 2008 and more recent turmoil in their country, Georgians are far less likely to say they are concerned about issues of political and territorial stability than are Azerbaijanis, according to a new survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center.

            The survey, the latest in a series begun in 2004 by this international social science group, found that 43 percent of Azerbaijanis said political and territorial stability was the most important issue facing them at present while only 12 percent of Georgians made a similar declaration (

            This was just one of the intriguing findings that the CRRC poll concerning social, political and economic stability in the three countries of the south Caucasus found. As the Center’s Ewa Jarosz notes, Georgians and Armenians are more likely to be concerned about employment and social-economic issues.

            She notes that people in all three countries are concerned about the risk of unemployment but “even those who have a job are more likely to be dissatisfied with it in Armenia, comparedto Georgia where more people are neutral about their job, and Azerbaijan in which the majority says they are satisfied with their job.”

            Armenians and Georgians put the situation in the labor market at the top of their list of concerns, with 55 and 54 percent respectively saying they were most worried about it, while only 27 percent of Azerbaijanis did so. In the case of Azerbaijan, 43 percent said that political and territorial stability was their biggest concern. In Armenia and Georgia, only seven and 12 percent listed that issue as the most important.

            Significantly, the CRRC survey, which was conducted in 2012, found that employment issues outweighed concern about other social and economic issues in all three countries and dramatically outweighed concerns about rule of law, tolerance and human rights, and international relations.

            Twenty-nine percent of the Armenians, 19 percent of the Azerbaijanis and 26 percent of the Georgians listed social and economic issues as their greatest concern. Regarding rule of law, the corresponding figures were seven, six and three. With regard to tolerance and human rights, they were two, two and three; and with regard to international relations, one, one and two.

            Variations in the level of unemployment and income explain some of this, Jarosz suggests. In 2011, unemployment in Armenia was 19 percent, in Georgia 15.1 percent, and in Azerbaijan 5.4 percent, according to the World Bank. And incomes in Azerbaijan were significantly higher than those in the other two countries.

            The CRRC analyst also pointed out that the data from the three countries in the southern Caucasus show that residents in their capital cities are “least likely to put labor market-related issues first on the priority list, while inhabitants of rural areas do so significantly more often,” a reflection of both economic conditions and political communications.

            The survey also found significant differences in job satisfaction among employees and workers in the three countries.  Seventy percent of Azerbaijanis said they were “satisfied” with their jobs, while only 33 percent of Armenians and 37 percent of Georgians said the same. At the other end of the scale, 35 percent of the Armenians, 15 percent of the Azerbaijanis and 15 percent of the Georgians said they were “dissatisfied” with their places of employment.

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