Beka Liluashvili: “In 2022, Georgians left the country in the biggest numbers for the last ten years – slightly more than 100,000.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Beka Liluashvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.

Dimitri Khundadze: “If someone leaves, this does not mean he does not return… In terms of net migration, the worst years were 2009-2011.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Dimitri Khundadze’s statement is Mostly False.

Resume:

When speaking about migration figures, it is relevant to discuss the net migration (the difference between emigrants and immigrants) in order to see the real picture.

In 2022, Georgia’s net migration rate was positive which was precipitated by the influx of foreign nationals to the country with the majority of them being Russian citizens. If we discuss only Georgian nationals, the net migration rate will be negative. In 2022, the number of Georgian nationals who left the country was 46,400 more as compared to those who returned which is the worst figure for the last ten years.

In his statement, Beka Liluashvili speaks only about the number of emigrants (those who left the country) and disregards the figure of those who came/returned to the country which is an exaggeration and shows the reality to be even worse than it really is. However, the context of his statement that the year 2022 saw the largest number of Georgians leaving the country in the past ten years is correct. Therefore, his statement was given a verdict of HALF TRUE.

The context of Dimitri Khundadze’s statement that highlighting the emigration figure alone is misleading and net migration should be discussed in order to see the real picture is right. However, the part of Mr Khundadze’s statement where he speaks about net migration for some specific years is manipulative. This is because prior to 2012, migration flows were not recorded because of a lack of a measuring system and so figures from before this time are largely drawn from assessments.

At the same time, Dimitri Khundadze underlines the fact that Georgia had a positive net migration rate for the first time in 30 years in 2020. The fact that people were not able to go anywhere because of closed borders cannot be considered as something positive.

Therefore, Dimitri Khundadze’s statement was a given a verdict ofMostly False.

Analysis

On 30 May 2023, at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, Beka Liluashvili, For Georgia party MP, stated: “In 2022, Georgians left the country in the biggest numbers for the last ten years. That was 100,000 persons and slightly more.”

One of the leaders of the Power of the People, Dimitri Khundadze, claimed that Beka Liluashvili’s statement is a lie. According to his statement, the opposition voiced such lies many times in the past. In particular, Mr Khundadze stated: “They were saying that 100,000 people left the country but nobody says that after those 100,000 who left, 75,000 returned. Therefore, it does not mean that whoever leaves does not come back. However, migration is certainly rising especially when the country gets visa liberalisation and there are more opportunities. However, the most people that the country lost in terms of net migration was in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In the last 30 years, 2020 was the only case when 15,000 more people came to Georgia as compared to those who left, they were our citizens travelling for this or that purpose.”

Firstly, it should be clarified that both emigrants and immigrants could be either Georgian citizens or citizens of foreign countries. A person is considered an emigrant if he left Georgia in the last 12 months, stayed in another country for at least 183 days and his permanent place of residence prior to leaving the country was Georgia. A person is considered an immigrant if he spent at least 183 days in Georgia after crossing the border and Georgia was not a place of his permanent residence prior to crossing the border.

Emigration is indeed one of Georgia’s major challenges. However, when we speak about migration figures, it is relevant to discuss net migration; that is, the difference between emigrants and immigrants. To only highlight the number of those who left the country and disregard the numbers of those who left and returned distorts a real picture and is manipulative. Dimitri Khundadze is correct to point this out, although comparing net migration to periods before 2012 is manipulative as well.

Given the lack of a relevant measuring system prior to 2012, it was impossible to accurately keep track of migration flows and data before that period are largely drawn from assessments. Since 2012, a new methodology was introduced which made it possible to identify emigrants and immigrants. Therefore, discussing the migration figures for specific years prior to 2012 and comparing them to the periods after 2012 is manipulative and does not reflect an objective reality (see FactCheck’s article for more details).

Generally, migration has been one of the biggest challenges for Georgia since the 1990s and more people are leaving the country every years as compared to those who enter. The only exception was 2020 when net migration was registered which was precipitated by the pandemic and closing down the borders. Therefore, it is not clear from Dimitri Khundadze’s statement why net migration was positive in 2020. The fact that people were not able to go anywhere because of closed borders cannot be considered as something positive.

In 2021 when borders of foreign countries were reopened, emigration surged sharply whilst the number of immigrants (people who enter the country) dropped. In 2021, 25,966 more people left Georgia than those who entered the country. Since 2012 the accurate identification of emigrants and immigrants started, the highest figure of net migration was registered in 2021 (see Graph 1).

In 2022, Georgia’s net migration rate was positive and the number of immigrants (people who came to Georgia) was 54,500 more as compared to the number of emigrants (those who left the country). The net migration rate in Georgia was precipitated by the influx of foreign nationals, most of whom are Russian citizens. However, if we discuss the number of Georgian nationals only, net migration would be negative.

Graph 1: Migration Figures in 2012-2021

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

In 2022, the number of Georgian nationals who left the country was 46,400 more as compared to those who returned which is the worst figure for the last ten years (see Graph 2). In 2013-2022, the total number of Georgian nationals who left the country is 213,800 more as compared to those who returned.

In his statement, Beka Liluashvili speaks only about the number of emigrants (those who left the country) and disregards the figure of those who came/returned to the country which distorts the real picture and is manipulative. However, the context of his statement that in 2022, Georgians left in the biggest numbers for the last ten years is correct.

Graph 2: Difference between Emigrant and Immigrant Georgian Nationals

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia


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5401 - Verified Facts
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26%
True
17%
Lie
11%
Mostly True
10%
Manipulation
9%

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