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Giorgi Vashadze: “According to the Eastern Partnership Index, Georgia is ranked in the third position and Ukraine is in the first. We are third as Armenia overtook us in the judiciary, media freedom and fighting corruption.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Vashadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE

Resume:

The Eastern Partnership Index, named by Giorgi Vashadze, is divided into two sub-indices – the Index on Approximation with Europe and the Index on Linkage. The index is measured by aggregating and processing the assessments of multiple experts. Mr Vashadze’s statement is in line with the Approximation with Europe Index where Georgia is indeed ranked in the third position after Ukraine and Moldova. Georgia has been ranked since 2015 and its position has not worsened vis-à-vis the other countries. At the same time, the Approximation with Europe Index is only a part of the entire index. Georgia was a frontrunner in the Index on Linkage.

Georgia never ranked in the first position in the Approximation Index whilst Ukraine and Moldova have been the frontrunners. At the same time, Georgia was the leader in terms of the Linkage Index according to the latest data (2018-2019). Of those components mentioned by Giorgi Vashadze such as: independent media, fighting corruption and the independent judiciary, Armenia is indeed ahead of Georgia. In particular, Armenia overtook Georgia in the components of independent judiciary and fighting corruption as compared to previous rankings whereas Armenia was ranked above Georgia in the component of media freedom.

Giorgi Vashadze’s statement is true, although focusing on a single sub-index out of two fails to show a full picture and it is evident that the statement needs additional specifications. Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Mr Vashadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE because the statement is accurate, albeit in need of additional information or/and clarification.

Analysis

Giorgi Vashadze, Member of the Parliament of Georgia, stated the following about the Eastern Partnership Index on air on TV Pirveli: “According to the Eastern Partnership Index, Georgia is ranked in the third position and Ukraine is in the first. We are third as Armenia overtook us in judiciary, media freedom and fighting corruption.”

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a programme as a part of EU Neighbourhood Policy which was launched in 2009 on the initiative of Sweden and Poland. This was an attempt to tailor a different format for the post-Soviet space, although today it is considered as the Eastern direction of the EU’s neighbourhood policy. The Eastern Partnership consists of six nations: Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus.

The Eastern Partnership Indices show the state of democracy and European integration across the six Eastern Partnership countries. According to the methodology, the indices are based on several stages such as basic research design, data collection, qualitative and quantitative analysis and verification. Over 50 experts from all of the Eastern Partnership countries are involved in the survey. At the first stage, experts award points in line with a detailed set of indicators after which the results are analysed and synthesised into a broader regional perspective.

The Eastern Partnership Index is divided into two parts: Approximation and Linkages. In turn, the Approximation Index is divided into three sections: Democracy, Eurointegration and Sustainable Development whilst the Linkage Index consists of the International Security, Political Dialogue and Cooperation, Sectoral Cooperation and Trade Relations as well as Citizens in Europe components. Of note is that the Approximation and the Linkages Indices were both published in 2015-2016 (joint period) and 2017 (separate year). However, only the Index on Approximation with Europe that was published in 2018-2019 (joint period) whilst only the Linkage with Europe Index was published in 2020-2021.

Giorgi Vashadze’s statement is in line with the Approximation with Europe Index where Georgia is indeed ranked in the third position after Ukraine and Moldova. However, of mention is that Georgia has been ranked since 2015 and its position has not worsened vis-à-vis the other countries. However, at the same time, the Approximation with Europe Index is only a part of the entire index. Georgia was a frontrunner in the Linkage Index.

Table 1: Eastern Partnership’s Approximation and Linkage Indices for 2015-2021

Source: https://eap-csf.eu/

Of note is that Giorgi Vashadze also made a statement on the Eastern Partnership Index in the near past as well. FactCheck verified that statement and since Mr Vashadze incorrectly compared the figures of two sub-indices two each other, giving the statement a MOSTLY FALSE verdict. Mr Vashadze, similar to this case, also sought to draw parallels with Armenia. The Index on Approximation consists of three components and 18 sub-components and Armenia is ahead of Georgia in eight of these. Armenia is indeed ranked above Georgia in those components which he named such as the independent media, fighting corruption and the independent judiciary. In particular, Georgia had more points than Armenia in terms of the independent media component in 2015-2016 and 2017 rankings and, therefore, Georgia’s position has worsened. When it comes to the independent judiciary component, Armenia was ahead of Georgia in 2015-2016 and 2017, although Armenia’s points decreased by 0.03 in 2020-2021 and Georgia’s points decreased by 0.06 as compared to the 2015-2016 ratings. The fighting corruption component was not assessed in 2015-2016 and Armenia overtook Georgia as compared to 2017.

Table 2:

Source: https://eap-csf.eu/

Of note is that the 2020-2021 index was processed from the second half of 2020 to mid-2021. Therefore, it does not reflect the number of occurrences both in Georgia and across the region where the situation deteriorated and could possibly have had a very negative impact on index components. At the same time, Giorgi Vashadze’s statement is true, although focusing on a single sub-index out of two fails to show a full picture and it is evident that the statement needs additional specifications. Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Mr Vashadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE because the statement is accurate, albeit in need of additional information or/and clarification.


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