Ruling Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze has announced Georgia will file for the EU membership tomorrow, following the suit of Ukraine.
“We call on the EU bodies to review our application in an emergency manner and to make the decision to grant Georgia the status of an EU membership candidate,” MP Kobakhidze said in a special briefing on March 2 evening.
He said the Georgian Dream made a political decision “considering the overall political context and the new reality, based on consultations with the party’s political council members and first of all, the Prime Minister.”
“Filing a strong application in 2024, backed by new reforms, as it was envisaged by the Georgian Dream’s election program would have had an advantage over applying hastily,” he stressed, however.
“It is our dream and political goal for Georgia to become an economically strong and safe European country,” MP Kobakhidze asserted. “Every move of our government, including the decision today, serves this aim.”
The ruling party chair also argued the GD government has had “multiple impressive achievements on the path of integration with the EU,” including the signing of the Association Agreement in 2014 and getting visa-free regime in 2017.
According to MP Kobakhidze, integration with the EU is a “path that shall lead our country to overcome poverty, to a qualitative increase in our population’s well-being and security and to de-occupation.”
The move marks a u-turn in Irakli Kobakhidze’s rhetoric over the day. Yesterday he defended the stated goal to apply for the membership in 2024, arguing “a hasty initiative could be counterproductive because we have to satisfy certain terms over the [next] two years.”
Facing domestic calls to follow the footsteps of Kyiv, he said yesterday that the 27-member bloc had offered Ukraine to review a candidate status in an expedited manner, but the offer did not stand for Georgia or Moldova.
- Georgia Reacts to Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
- Georgians Overwhelmingly Support Joining EU
- EU Condemns ‘Fifth Setback’ in Georgian Judiciary
Noteworthy, the decision comes during President Salome Zurabishvili’s trip to Brussels, where she met European Council and Commission Presidents, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, respectively yesterday.
Recently, the relations between the GD government and Brussels have been somewhat strained, the least because of the controversial Supreme Court and High Council of Justice appointments, GD’s preemptive refusal of conditional EU loan, and Georgia’s alleged spying on western diplomats.
Deepening hiatus in relations, GD unilaterally quit the EU-brokered April 19 deal between governing and opposition parties in July. It also failed the pledge to undertake legal changes under the deal, prompting EU and U.S. criticism.
- Kobakhidze Lashes Out at EU Ambassador
- MEPs Cancel Tbilisi Visit as Georgian Speaker “Didn’t Find Time to Engage”
- EU ‘Taking Appropriate Steps’ on Georgia’s Alleged Spying on EU Diplomats
NB: This article was updated.