‘Heartbreaking’: Brussels dashes Georgia’s hopes of timely EU accession

Georgian legislators are upset after Brussels shattered the country’s dreams of a rapid entry into the European Union.

Georgia would only be granted candidate status after fulfilling specific priorities, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Unlike Ukraine and Moldova, which were granted candidacy status, the Commission instead proposed a “European approach” for the little Black Sea republic.

“Georgia, like Ukraine and Moldova, has the same aspirations and possibilities,” von der Leyen added. “Its application offers merits, particularly in terms of its economy’s market orientation and a strong private sector.”

“In order to succeed, the country must now come together politically to define a clear route for structural reform and membership in the European Union,” she continued.

Before granting Georgia candidate status, the Commission would “come back and examine” whether it had met “a number of conditions,” said von der Leyen, without indicating when that would be.

Before joining the union, the country must address internal political polarisation, agree to “de-oligarchization,” and implement judicial reforms, according to a Commission document.

The EU’s executive body also stated that press freedoms, as well as governmental institution accountability and transparency, must be strengthened.

Irakli Kobakhidze, the leader of the Georgian Dream party, which has a majority in Georgia’s parliament, called the Commission’s decision “heartbreaking.”

“We recognise that, unlike Ukraine and Moldova, Georgia has not made the necessary sacrifices today,” Kobakhidze added.

“Unfortunately, the sacrifices and carnage of 14 or even 30 years ago, with 300,000 internally displaced people, have already lost their importance for our European allies,” he added.

His remarks were made in reference to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war and the separatist province of Abkhazia in the country’s north, which is backed by Moscow.

Georgia’s opposition utilised the Commission’s decision to criticise the administration.

The existing administration, according to Giga Bokeria, the leader of the European Georgia party, is incompatible with the country’s EU ambitions.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s United Opposition Movement head, Nika Melia, has accused the government of obstructing Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic route on purpose.

Other politicians, on the other hand, were more upbeat.

President Salome Zourabichvili remarked, “I want you to fully understand that Europe did not desert us.” “Our European perspective has been acknowledged. This is the first time something like this has happened.”

“Now we have a list of priorities that need to be handled,” she said, “and this is the responsibility of both the administration and the opposition.”

Frustrations about the verdict were felt in several parts of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, with many residents characterizing it as difficult to understand.


“I didn’t like the decision at all; everyone was shouting yes, and now this is what we have,” said Lia Partskhaladze, a 70-year-old pharmacist. “We deserved to be considered.”

Although it would be “great if they allowed the candidacy,” Georgian legislator Leqso Khalidashvili, 25, believes the decision should motivate lawmakers to do more.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to get to the required level,” the engineer added, “but that’s the path we have to pursue.”

Georgia’s government declared in 2021 that it would apply for EU membership in 2024. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, this was brought forward “quickly.”

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