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Opposition Leaders Visit Brussels as Georgia Eyes EU Candidacy

As the European Commission is expected to deliver its opinion on Georgia’s EU candidacy in late June, Georgian opposition politicians are frequenting Brussels with an overarching message that the country deserves membership perspective despite recent controversial steps by the Georgian Dream authorities.

“Despite wrongdoing by the Georgian Dream, their anti-European steps and completely insane statements, our country and our people should not lose the European perspective,” Lelo party secretary general Badri Japaridze said outside the European Commission’s Berlaymont building.

Japaridze, who traveled to Brussels with his party colleague MP Salome Samadashvili, Georgia’s former envoy to the European Union, noted that “our country and our people had deserved to return to the European family.”

He also said now the Georgian opposition’s main task is to inform “most loyal friends of our country, western partners, that the statements and actions by the Georgian Dream should not jeopardize the interests of our people – that is the beginning of Georgia’s European integration process.”

Lelo leaders were the latest Georgian opposition figures to travel to the EU capital, where they held meetings yesterday with representatives of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, several key MEPs on EU-Georgian relations, as well as Steffen Elgersma of NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Division.

Earlier, on May 15, For Georgia MPs Ana Buchukuri, Giorgi Khojevanishvili, Aleksandre Motserelia and Amiran Daushvili, led by their party leader ex-PM Giorgi Gakharia also arrived to Brussels.

They had exchanges with key MEPs on EU-Georgia affairs, including Sven Mikser and Marina Kaljurand (S&D, EE), Frances Fitzgerald (EPP, IE), Andrius Kubiljus (EPP, LT), Viola von Cramon (Greens/EFA, DE) and Marketa Gregorova (Greens/EFA, CZ), as well as Luc Devigne of the European External Action Service.

MP Buchukuri, told Formula TV from Brussels on May 17 that the attitudes toward Georgia are aggravated and that the European officials she met with complained that “over the last year the country in terms of democratic development and reforms has experienced serious backsliding.”

“We are asking them to support granting Georgia candidate status because this will be during these difficult times, in light of the situation in the region, an additional mechanism to protect the country’s sovereignty,” she said.

“Granting us candidate status… would give us an additional tool to force Georgian Dream to enact the changes and reforms,” MP Buchukuri added.

Georgia and Moldova submitted formal applications to join the 27-member-bloc on March 3, following the suit of Ukraine, which has been fighting Russia’s bloody invasion since February 24.

Georgia followed up by delivering the second part of its EU Questionnaire on May 10, with the European Commission’s opinion expected to be delivered in late June.  

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