The FINANCIAL -- About 9 months ago, we were already discussing the oddities of egg prices in Georgia (“The Georgian Egg of Discord”, by Giorgi Kelbakiani and Eric Livny, to be found on the ISET Economist Blog). At that time, a huge volatility in the egg prices could be explained by interesting political dynamics. Under the UNM government, local producers of eggs were largely protected from external competition through non-tariff import barriers, called by the ministry of agriculture a “complete violation of law and international agreements”. However, through these measures, a relative stability of egg supply (and thus prices) in the Georgian market was achieved, though at a relatively high price level (see the chart). 

Job approval ratings arrived in Georgia 60 years after George Gallup originally introduced this type of survey in the mid 1930s. They were conducted for the first time in Georgia following the 1991 presidential elections, itself a first for the country as it emerged from the dying USSR. Georgians have since elected a three more presidents, and without interruption GORBI has measured their public approval ratings. Until recently, these ratings served as a good yard stick of public trust in the existing system and thus a strong predictor of possible social and political unrest in the country. But today, these ratings are more than just about job approval and will reflect how the government tackles none political issues.

The FINANCIAL -- As promised in my previous column, this week I present comparative data about Georgians’ sentiment towards the two countries that “should be friends” and their top politicians. The trend data is based on GORBI’s nationwide representative surveys conducted among 1,000 or more adult Georgians per wave since 2009. 

The FINANCIAL -- So far, many Georgians solved minor health problems in a non-bureaucratic way. Instead of consulting doctors, they asked friends, relatives, and the internet what medicine should be taken as a remedy for a given issue. Once they had received enough information, they went to a pharmacy, and, with some additional advice from the pharmacist, bought the medicine they expected to be helpful.

Not surprisingly, the recent NATO summit in Wales has dominated headlines in the Georgian press. Unlike in previous years, officials in Tbilisi stuck to promises that Georgia was primed to receive something “better than a MAP.” Russia’s involvement in shaping a “frozen conflict” in Ukraine only raised expectations that the alliance would offer Georgia greater integration. More importantly, however, Moscow’s new “deniable warfare” has prompted NATO members to finally follow their own rules - devote at least 2% of their countries’ GDP for their militaries - and not rely solely on Article 5. Ukraine’s fate notwithstanding, Russia’s recent aggression may be a blessing in disguise for Georgia’s security: a wakeup call within NATO and the realization that words of assurance continue to have zero value.

Countries participating (or at least included) in European Union’s Eastern Partnership program (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Russia and Moldova) share similar pasts but all face different and myriad challenges (some related to security, others economic and political), which undoubtedly affect public mood. It follows that while citizens in some countries are rather satisfied with everyday life, people of other states feel as if their luck has run out.

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