Georgia of emigration h1>
Guram Svanidze, Candidate of Philosophy, member of the Civil Integration Committee of the Georgian Parliament.
Konstantin Kokoev, Candidate of Technical Sciences, President of the International Center for the Peaceful Caucasus
With the liberalization and democratization of our society, Georgian citizens were given the opportunity to exercise their right to emigrate. In the early 1990s, it was helped by a sharp deterioration in socio-economic and political conditions in the former Soviet republics, including Georgia. Departure from the country became a way of survival of the population and took a mass character.
As the intensity of emigration increased, it became more difficult to keep records of it. In fact, in our country there is no organization that has accurate statistics on those who left for permanent residence abroad. Sometimes even good intentions create difficulties in establishing a record of migration processes. Thus, the abolition of the institution of propiska introduced additional problems into the sphere of statistics, reflecting the peculiarities of the population movement within the republic or in the near abroad. Emigration to non-CIS countries does not fully reflect OVIR statistics. Official data, in essence, show the repatriation of Jews, Greeks and Germans, which make up the vast majority of emigrants in the reports of this body. We have to make an amendment to such a phenomenon as “non-return”, when people who leave for work, study, on private invitations or on tourist trips do not return back and are looking for an opportunity to stay abroad. On this account, there is neither reliable statistics nor data collection methods, but there is a strong empirical sense of this phenomenon. Extrapolations, applied by various specialists, who at the same time proceeded from different premises, only confused the matter. All hopes are placed on the recently completed general population census.
A special delicacy of the problem is attached to the fact that a significant proportion of emigrants are members of national minorities. Some political forces interpreted their mass exit as a result of discrimination based on ethnicity. Here the chauvinistic rhetoric of the times of Zviad Gamsakhurdia played a role, on which some authors “got stuck”, not noticing that the emigration activity of the representatives of national minorities did not go down for a long time after its overthrow.
The organizers of the survey on emigration problems have set themselves the following tasks: to determine and trace the dynamics of the emigration intentions of the population for the period 1994-1996 -1998-2001; to record changes in the structure of emigration factors and the place occupied by discriminatory aspects in it, to analyze the correlation of the reasons for leaving and not leaving abroad; to clarify the nature of the emigration intentions of the Georgian and non-Georgian massifs. This study is the fourth of a series of issues related to the problems of emigration from Georgia. The first one was conducted with the assistance of the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Development and Democracy in 1994, the second one with the assistance of the Open Society Institute in 1996, in 1998 with the assistance of the International Agency for Migration (IOM), in 2001, with the assistance of the Department for International Development Government of Great Britain (DFID).
In this article we confine ourselves to an analysis of data obtained in ethnically mixed regions (Tbilisi, Batumi, Rustavi), where 662 respondents were interviewed.
One of the prerequisites that affect a person’s decision to leave the country is the attitude of the micro environment, his immediate environment. If among friends and friends often talk about emigration, and if, moreover, someone from the family or relatives has already left, then the higher the probability that the individual is inclined to make a choice in favor of moving abroad.
Are there people among your closest associates who are considering leaving Georgia for permanent residence (%)?
Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi.
As follows from Table 1, the environment of respondents from the non-Georgian subgroup is more “empowered” for emigration than the closest circle of interviewed Georgians: slightly more than half of the representatives of this subgroup are of the opinion that people who are thinking of leaving on a permanent basis are many. Nearly one-third of the Georgians surveyed are of the same opinion.
When analyzing the dynamics of the emigration background, a definite trend emerges. If we imagine this process in the form of a curved line, then it approaches its peak in 1994, then (in 1996 and 1998) its trajectory decreases. For example, in 1994 in the subgroup of national minorities an average of 60% believed that in their environment many people thought about leaving on a permanent basis, in 1996, 39.6% of them found themselves, in 1998 – 30.4%. A similar situation was in the Georgian subgroup: 41% in 1994, 28.3% in 1996, and 17% in 1998.
It is symptomatic that 58.3% of the polled from the sub-group of ethnic minorities, who indicated that at the time of the survey, some of their relatives were abroad, noted that these relatives moved to their permanent place of residence, against 19% of Georgian respondents (see table 2).
If one of your family members is abroad at the time of the survey, then for how long have they left (%)?
Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi.
Those who indicated the presence of relatives-emigrants, show that they left for Russia (almost half of the respondents are from national minorities and one-third are Georgians), second in the Georgian sub-mass (as in the group of ethnic minorities), the US and Germany. However, Georgians who have left for these countries are relatively more numerous than representatives of national minorities.
The geography of the countries where the family members of the respondents left the country has expanded considerably, to such remote countries as Australia, Argentina, South Africa.
An important point of our study is to determine the emigration intentions of the respondents themselves. Almost twice as many representatives of national minorities (in percentage terms) said they wanted to emigrate (28.9% versus 15.2%). In comparison with the representatives of the Georgian sub-mass (45.9%), in this subgroup there are fewer who firmly decided to stay (36.4%) (see table 3).
Which of the following persons do you belong to? (%)
Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi.
An analysis of the dynamics of emigration intentions shows that if in the Georgian sub-mass the data differed in certain constancy (11% in 1994, 8.2% in 1996, 8.5% in 1998), then in 2001 they increased significantly 15.2%). Previously, there was a decrease in the number of people wishing to emigrate from the country in the sub-mass of national minorities (on average about 30% in 1994, 22.3% in 1996, 16.7% in 1998), then in the last study growth 28.9%), almost approached the level of 1994.
When asked about where potential emigrants would go, the answers were as follows. In the subgroup of Georgians: 35.2% in the USA, 13.6% in Germany, and 12.5% in Russia. In the subgroup of non-Georgians: to Russia – 32.2, in the USA – 16.6%, to Greece – 8%.
On this site, it was important to find out whether the relatively high emigration potential of representatives of national minorities was due to discriminatory factors. When analyzing the views of respondents on the reasons for leaving the country, the rank system was used.
Why, in your opinion, do people emigrate from Georgia?
Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi.
Thus, Table 4 shows that, according to representatives of both subgroups, the main reason for emigration is unemployment. Unanimity was also noted with regard to a number of other factors: the decline in the standard of living (the second rank), the inability to realize one’s abilities (third rank), the uncertainty in the future (fourth rank), the political crisis (fifth rank). As for the factors of discriminatory order regarding the representatives of national minorities: the unfavorable attitude of the authorities and (or) the population to ethnic origin, the inability to realize the needs in the language and / or culture, the inability to satisfy religious feelings, then for the respondents from this subgroup they were among the least significant.
If we talk about the dynamics of the importance of factors, then the rise in rank such as the inability to realize one’s abilities (third rank), in comparison with the position of the factor, is uncertain – tomorrow’s uncertainty (fourth rank).
Judging by Table 5, which reflects the respondents’ opinion, the reasons why people do not want to leave the country do not differ much in groups.
Why, in your opinion, do some people refrain from emigration?
Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi.
At 1 and 2 places in groups of Georgians and non-Georgians – lack of material opportunities and reluctance to leave relatives. Moreover, the reluctance to abandon the acquired economy was relegated to the secondary level (in comparison with previous studies) to the second plan (the 7th – the 8th ranks among the national minorities and the fifth rank among the Georgians). Apparently, there is nothing left. Attention is drawn to the third rank of the factor “weak health” – for national minorities and the fourth rank of the factor “obstacles imposed by consular services.” According to Georgian respondents, patriotic feelings and ignorance of a foreign language (third and fourth ranks) keep from emigration.
The study separately considered data on the subgroup “potential emigrants” (132 respondents). It was assumed that the planned trends will be most visible in this subgroup, which was confirmed by the results of the survey. For example, among potential emigrants, relatively more people aged 18-35 years than in the entire sample (50% and 37.5%), which is quite natural, since people of this age are the most mobile. However, if in general a little more than a third of respondents in the study of ethnic minorities, then in the allocated subgroup they are 50%, that is, it is confirmed that emigrant intentions are more pronounced among minority representatives.
71.2% of the respondents of this subgroup indicate that in their immediate environment there are many people who are thinking of leaving on a permanent basis, while this point of view is shared by 38.8% of the respondents throughout the array. And 68.9% of them note the presence of close relatives abroad (49.2% for the entire sample). Potential emigrants make up one-fifth of all respondents, but the number of their relatives who were absent at the time of the survey is one third of all those who were named as retired. 54.6% of the families of the respondents from this subarray left forever (the corresponding figure for the whole array is 38.2%). From this it follows that the indicators of the emigration background in this subgroup are much higher than in the whole array.
There were no large differences between the array and the given subarray in relation to the causes of emigration. In the second case, only the factor of family reunification was more significant. In this subgroup, the second rank of the factor “obstacles imposed by consular services” attracts attention, which is the reason for not leaving the country. At the same time, it is the fourth most important in the whole array.
A study conducted in 2001 showed a marked increase in the sentiment of the microenvironment for leaving for a permanent residence abroad in a group of respondents interviewed in places with a mixed ethnic composition of the population compared to data obtained in 1994, 1996, 1998. In the sub-mass of national minorities, this background is still “thicker” than in the subgroup of “Georgians”. In addition, respondents – national minorities are relatively more numerous than among Georgians, relatives who have left for permanent residence abroad.
The geography of the countries to which the relatives of the respondents left, is more extensive in the Georgian subgroup, although the Russian Federation is undoubtedly leading in both subgroups. Ethnic-oriented emigration is weakly expressed in relation to Armenia and Azerbaijan. There is an increase in the number of potential emigrants. In the group of Georgians, he reached the highest level in comparison with previous studies. If you compare the willingness to leave the country forever, then it is higher among the national minorities. As for the geography of potential emigration, the share of far abroad countries is growing in it.
Among the reasons for emigration, socio-economic factors put the respondents first. Aspects of the discriminatory plan do not have high ranks.
An analysis of the reasons restraining people from leaving the country showed that the one who was well-off and physically healthy had already left. This is especially true for a group of national minorities. Thus, the emigration resources of the population are depleted.