On 23 September 2014, during his visit to the talk show, Choice,

Parliamentary Majority MP, Giga Bukia, stated: “We are among the ten safest countries in the world. The number of tourists has increased by 30%. More than five million tourists have visited Georgia.”

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.

When commenting upon the issue the MP indicated a Civil Society Platform article as his prime source of information. The aforementioned article is based upon the statistics published by lifestyle9.com. According to the Lifestyle9 website, a safe country must be protected from natural disasters, robbery, terrorism, corruption and economic crises. However, the website’s article bases its assessment of safety upon the criminal situation only. According to the article, Georgia holds the 8th

position in the world by safety (criminal situation).

Unlike Lifestyle9’s article, the Global Peace Index (GPI), conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an international think tank, is a reliable academic source for assessing the safety of a country. The Institute’s Index determines the safest and the most peaceful countries in the world and is recognised by major international think tanks and analysts. The GPI is calculated based upon various factors such as the number of organised conflicts, relations with neighbouring countries, the public’s perception of crime levels, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons and so on (see Table 1). The GPI is used by major international organisations such as the World Bank and the United Nations. According to the 2014 Report, Georgia holds the 111th

position out of 162 countries.

Table 1:

 Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index Factors
1 External and Internal Conflicts
2 Deaths from Conflict (Internal)
3 Deaths from Conflict (External)
4 Level of Conflicts
5 Neighbouring Country Relations
6 Perceived Criminality in Society
7 Share of Displaced Persons in Overall Number of Population
8 Political Instability
9 Terrorist Activity
10 Political Terror
11 Violent Crime
12 Homicides (per 100,000 persons)
13 Jailed Population (per 100,000 persons)
14 Share of Military Expenditure in GDP
15 Armed Services Personnel
16 UN Peacekeeping Funding
17 Nuclear and Heavy Weapons Capability
18 Access to Light Weapons
19 Number of Prisoners (per 100,000 persons)
20 Imported Conventional Weapons (per 100,000 persons)
21 Exported Conventional Weapons (per 100,000 persons)
22 Security Officers and Police (per 100,000 persons)

Table 2:

 Georgia’s Ratings According to the Global Peace Index (GPI)

Year

Rating

Peace Index

2009

134

2.842

2010

141

3.020

2011

136

2.580

2012

137

2.546

2013

139

2.511

2014

111

2.225

It should be noted that the GPI combines all of the major factors of a safe country and does not rely upon the criminal activity level only.

FactCheck looked into the research results of NUMBEO.COM as well. The aforementioned organisation measures the safety of countries based upon the criminal activity level. According to the 2014 study, Georgia holds the 5th place out of 139 countries by safety. The criminal activity level in the country has been assessed at 19.91 points whilst the safety index has been given 80.09 points (see Table 3). It should be noted that this organisation’s studies are used by major media companies and publications such as the BBC, The Economist, Forbes

and so on.

Table 3:

 Georgia’s Ratings by Criminal Activity (NUMBEO.COM)

Year

Criminal Activity

Safety Index

Position (in the world)

2012

31.33

68.67

20

2013

19.57

80.43

8

2014

19.91

80.09

5

As the table makes clear, Georgia indeed is among the ten safest countries of the world by the 2013-2014 data.

We contacted the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia in order to study this issue in detail. However, the Ministry was unable to name a study which determines the level of safety of countries based upon the criminal activity level.

The ex-President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, often used to say that Georgia was one of the safest countries in the region. Mr Saakashvili’s statements were often based upon the data of The International Crime Victims Survey

which is one of the largest projects in the field of international criminology. It is funded by the European Commission and recognised everywhere. According to this source, Georgia’s criminal activity was on the rise until 2005. Despite the fact that Georgia had a high level of criminal activity, it was still considered as one of the safest countries in the region due to its reforms. The most recent study of the aforementioned organisation is based upon the data from 1998 to 2010.

As for the number of visitors, also mentioned by Mr Bukia, a total of 5.4 million visitors entered Georgia in 2013 which was 22% more than in 2012. Georgia was visited by 4,187,595 people in the first nine months of 2014. This was 2% more than in the same period of the previous year. If we look at the growth rate of the number of visitors in recent years, the growth in 2014 has decreased. The number of visitors to Georgia was definitely more than 5 million in 2013; however, neither in 2013 nor in 2014 has the number of visitors increased by 30%. Even if we assume that the MP meant the growth of 2013 and 2014 together, it is still less than 30%.

Chart 1:

Growth of the Number of Visitors to Georgia (from 2006 to 2014)

image001

Conclusion The Global Peace Index (GPI) conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an international think tank, is the most reliable and recognised academic source for assessing the safety of a country. According to this Index, Georgia holds the 111th position out of 162 countries. However, this study assesses the level of safety based upon 22 different factors. When talking about the safety of the country, Mr Bukia meant the criminal activity level only. According to the source named by him, Georgia does indeed hold the 8th

place in the world by safety.

We checked the issue based upon the NUMBEO.COM research as well. The aforementioned research is also highly reliable and recognised worldwide. According to this research, Georgia holds the 5th

place in the world by safety.

As for the growth of the number of tourists, the MP is absolutely correct when stating that five million tourists visited Georgia in 2013. However, the growth rate of 2013 has not been 30% as stated by Mr Bukia.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Giga Bukia’s statement: “We are among the ten safest countries in the world. The number of tourists has increased by 30%. More than five million tourists have visited Georgia,” is HALF TRUE.

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