Thursday, December 18, 2014


Caucasus Report

Could Georgians Become A Minority In their Own Country?

As of January 1, 2010, the population of Georgia numbered 4,436,400, Caucasus Press reported on June 30. That is less than 1 percent more than at the time of the 2002 census (4,400,000) and approximately 1 million less than at the time of the January 1989 Soviet census, when the figure was 5,449,000, according to "Pravda" on April 29, 1989.

That catastrophic decline is the combined result of massive emigration in search of employment and a sharp fall in the birthrate: from 92,000 live births in 1990 to 40,800 in 1999. That latter trend has now reportedly been reversed: Georgian demographers have registered a slight but steady increase in the birthrate in recent years, with 46,060 births in 2006, 48,027 in 2007, 57,263 in 2008, 61,839 in 2009, and 62,726 in 2010. But according to the daily "Rezonansi" on August 9, 2005, one child in 20 dies before the age of 5. Abortions reportedly outnumber live births by 2-to-1.

Moreover, the population increase is highest in those regions populated primarily by Azerbaijanis and Armenians, leading some specialists to warn that Georgians could become a minority in their own country by 2050. In June 2007, the Justice Ministry's Civil Register calculated that the second most common surname in Georgia was Mamedov.

At the time of the 2002 Georgian census, Georgians accounted for 83.8 percent of the population; Azeris, 6.5 percent; Armenians, 5.7 percent; and Russians, 1.5 percent. Since then, however, Georgia has experienced a steady influx of Chinese. Official statistics estimate their number in the hundreds, but the "Georgian Times" in August 2007 cited a figure of 50,000, and former President Eduard Shevardnadze told the newspaper "Mteli kvira" that there were 40,000 Chinese in Tbilisi alone.

At least two Georgian opposition parties have advocated cash incentives to encourage families to have another child. In July 2007, the New Rightists proposed that the state should assume all expenses related to the birth of a child; pay 500 laris ($290) for each newborn child and extend maternity leave from four to 12 months; and pay a monthly allowance of 300 laris for the first-born, rising by 100 laris for each subsequent child.

On March 8, Labor party General-Secretary Soso Shatberashvili said that in order to avert a "demographic catastrophe," the state should make a one-time payment of 1,000 laris to the parents of each new-born child.

Even if such incentives are introduced, however, it is doubtful whether they could fully offset the process of population aging: already some 20 percent of the population is aged over 60, "Rezonansi" reported on October 2, 2009. Taking that trend into account, the UN Population Division envisaged in 2008 that by 2020, Georgia's population would dip below 4 million, and sink as low as 3,267,000 by 2050.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
March 09, 2011 20:11
It is contingency of Russia to repopulate Georgia since 1954,
With third killed or leave, third end in death camps and the best,
Reminder, exploited and plagiareized behind the closed doors
In Getoes arround Tbilisi. Urartu "Armenians" are Russia bet,
Some others too, but many Azerbaijanis might not know it yet.

I wouldn't idealize Georgin government, as all non-Russians,
They infiltrated by Russian nazi agencies, telepats, mafia-like
Networks and official influx, aggression and blokade actions.
It comes to the dilema: CONTINUE THE PAST LOYALTIES?

OR, WHERE IT IS CALLED FOR MOVE OUT SOME BEST,
THE OLD TIMES OF KARTVELISHVILI AND BALANCHINI
TO RETURN WITH LARGER NUMBERS TO THE WEST,
ACCORDING TO CATASTROPY THAT SIMCE COMING.

Demography policy needed. Russia is "Cheremushka"!
As Georgia boast hospitality, Russia use it push Urartia,
Partners of Russian influx, to repossess it with Rushka,
And push Azerbaijan too - using lie-spy pseudo-Islamia.

by: J from: US
March 10, 2011 03:22
It depends if the number includes Ossetia and Abkhazia or not.
In Response

by: Rasto from: London
March 10, 2011 15:40
50 000 south Ossetians and about 130 000 Abkhazians do not make such a big difference

by: Merolanna from: London
March 11, 2011 14:53
This is a very dangerous article, who is writing this?! Which "experts" are saying Georgians will be outnumbered by Azeris in Georgia? In 1989 Georgians were 70% of the population, and the country was much more multiethnic. In 2002 Georgians are 84% of the population. Many communities have almost entirely disappeared from Georgia, including Russians, Jews, Greeks, not to mention Ossetians. The Armenian community is much smaller than it was in Soviet times. Politicians who exaggerate these fears are playing ethnic card because they don't have serious policies of their own. If Georgians are really worried about becoming a minority in own country, they need to concentrate on building a democratic, sensible and reliable country which people don't want to leave.

Shame on you RFE for reproducing this inaccurate speculation.
In Response

by: Rasto from: London
March 15, 2011 12:29
Could you please quote source of your information saying that Ossetians have almost dissapeared from Georgia. As far as I am aware Ossetians do live in areas near Kazbegi in lower Pankisi and around Bakuriani and Borjomi in rather sizeable communities. Jew population has been decreasing since 1990 due to migration to Israel and Russian population has been leaving Georgia after both Abkhazian and Civil war continuously for Russia for better opportunities. I do not thik that there is any problem with Azeri and Armenian minoritis living in Bolnisi or Javakheti except that both Azeris and Armenians do not tend to learn Georgian language and integrate to the society.

by: IJ from: UK
March 11, 2011 19:37
The article is misleading. It is true that the population of Georgia is declining: between the census of 1989 and 2002 the population declined by more than one million. However, it is incorrect to say, as this article suggests, that this is "the combined result of massive emigration in search of employment and declining birthrate".

Based on census figures, the ethnic Georgians made up only about 126,000 (12%) of these roughly one million emigrants. Meanwhile, almost 300,000 Russians left (Over 75% of Russians that lived in Georgia in 1989, or 27% of one million emigrants), almost 200,000 Armenians left (43% of Armenians that lived in Georgia in 1989, or 18% of the one million emigrants), almost 50,000 Ukrainians left (87% of all Ukrainians that were in Georgia in 1989), over 85,000 Greeks... I hope you get the picture. The massive population decline is because of non-Georgians leaving Georgia.

So then how does this relate to the Authors claim that Georgians may soon be minority in their own country? Well, share of ethnic Georgians in Georgia has never been as high as 83% (figure in 2002) in last 100 years. Georgians are actually the largest majority that they have been in at least 100 years - shares were 67% in 1926, 61% in 1939, 67% in 1970, 70% in 1989, and 84% in 2002 - the share is not declining - it is growing! I am glad that declining population is being considered a catastrophe, but let's not turn the facts upside down and claim that Georgians in Georgia are endangered now - if anything, the opposite is true. I did not make adjustment for birthrates in my calculation, nor for populations in Ossetia and Abkhazia – these adjustments would not have changed the big picture.

And also I note in passing that Azeris. Armenians and Russians that live in Georgia are citizens of Georgia and holders of Georgian passport. So if government wants to incentivize more children by cash payments - they will be entitled to this just as ethnic Georgians.

by: Asim from: London
March 14, 2011 01:58
Most comments made are accurate. During Soviet times it could best be said that Georgians were the largest ethnic minority group in Georgia and were not a clear majority—especially if Georgia was looked at region by region. In fact, even today many of these minority groups do not even understand enough Georgian to speak it properly.

Despite the fact that most of the emigration from Georgia has been demographically more non-Georgians, one very important fact has been overlooked. Georgians have been losing their Christian minorities disproportionally compared to their Muslim minorities. In fact, Georgians are encouraging immigration of Turkic people to settle in more Armenian regions—to prevent a Karabagh-ation and consequently greater Russian control of the region.

The Georgian government has been short sited. Their current attempts to stabilize the birth rate will only backfire. Once the Georgians encourage the emigration of their last non-Georgian Christians in 50 to 100 years they may become the next Lebanon which will help Turkey reestablish a permanent foothold in Georgia. This will be to the detriment of both Armenia and Russia.
Unfortunately, there is little that Georgians can do to prevent this. The Turkic and Muslim minorities have a greater birth rate then ethnic Georgians but are not given enough representation in government. Currently this is just what the Georgians want as the non-Georgian ethnic minorities overwhelmingly prefer the Russians over the Georgians.

What do you say my Azeri brothers should we rename the country and give it its proper name. Those foolish Georgians will agree to whatever we decide because they are dependent on us now and will become a vassal Turkic state soon enough. I know your answer; let’s wait until we take back Karabagh and Armenia.
In Response

by: Paul from: Minneapolis
April 03, 2011 02:30
The ethnic minorities are migrating since they have better economic opportunities in Russia and Europe. Georgia had a major civil war and many ethnic conflicts since its independence. Georgia cannot be compared to Lebanon since 84% of Georgian population is Georgian Orthodox compared to many religious sects in Lebanon.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.