Georgia’s President launches appeal for EU membership

Georgia’s President launches appeal for EU membership

EP Plenary session — Formal sitting with Salome ZOURABICHVILI, President of Georgia

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili addressed the European Parliament on May 31 in a bid to reassure the European Union of her country’s commitment to membership, warning also that repeated delays may empower Russia and illiberism in the country.

Zourabichvili told the parliament that “not only is our European choice legitimate, but there is also no alternative to it because it is based on our values, our history, our struggles, our determination, and our vision for the future.” Her 35-minute speech received a standing ovation by MEPs in the parliament.

Currently Georgia is seeing setbacks on the way to membership, with the country told in 2022 to work on 12 reforms in order to fulfill minimum candidacy requirements. The country’s government has been slowly slipping towards a more anti-EU and anti-Western stance, with prime minister Irakli Garibashvili parroting Russian narrative about the causes of the war in Ukraine, in addition of jailing pro-opposition journalist Nika Gvaramia and trying to pass a controversial law on foreign agents. Despite these sretbacks, support for EU integration remains high among Georgians.

According to the EU, Georgia’s alignment with EU foreign policy decisions and declarations dropped significantly to 31% from an already low 44% in 2022. Georgian government officials are defending the policies as a “responsible policy of strategic patience towards Russia.” Critics are worried about backsliding on democratic and liberal values and led some to believe the ruling party is trying to sabotage the country’s candidacy in the EU.

Zourabichvili has been trying to patch things up with the EU and her efforts are generally viewed positively in Georgia by all major political parties. In her speech in Brussels, she reiterated Georgia’s support for Ukraine and warned that “leaving us behind would only encourage Russia to seek compensation for its own failure to win a war it started but cannot end.”


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