In a letter to the Georgian people, MEPs Andrius Kubilius and Rasa Juknevičienė (EPP, Lithuania) have warned that Georgia’s EU aspirations may come to a point when Georgians will have to choose between “the current political structure with [Bidzina] Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream in the lead of the country, or the European future of Georgia.”
The two parliamentarians said the EU candidate status could not be achieved by words but through “a matter of real commitment and united effort that has to be demonstrated by the Government, the political opposition, and the people.”
“All in all, sometimes we cannot help but think that somebody in the ruling circles in Georgia is actively doing everything to stop Georgia from joining the EU. If they succeed, this will be a terrible loss not only for Georgia, but also for the EU, and big win for Putin’s regime.”
The MEPs stressed that such non-democratic tendencies could put the country’s EU accession on hold, bringing the example of Slovakia from 1997, when the Central European country was not invited for accession negotiations unlike its neighbors.
Against this backdrop, the lawmakers urged Georgia’s political powers and the people “not to be disappointed in case the result will be less optimistic, but instead, to finally join forces for common work to bring Georgia to the EU.”
“The Georgian Government must realize that a solution to Georgia’s problems is in Tbilisi, not in Brussels. If this challenge is too big for this Government, there are democratic ways to pass it over to others, without grabbing onto the chairs at all costs.”
At the same time, the missive urged the opposition parties to “find the strength to rise above separate issues and propose a credible strategy of European integration to the people of Georgia.”
Alleged Deteriorating Perception of Georgia
The MEPs said while Georgia had been a frontrunner on the path towards EU integration for years, “today the prevailing perception in the European Union, and the European Parliament, is that the situation in Georgia has deteriorated in the last couple of years.”
“Despite many warnings, the current Government did not do a proper job to maintain Georgia at the forefront of EU integration” as a result of which the MEPs say the “picture is rather bleak at this time.”
The lawmakers cited controversial moves by the Georgian Dream Government, including the imprisonments of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and the failure to implement EU-brokered April 19, 2021 deal.
Moreover, just as the European Commission started drafting the opinion on EU candidate status for Georgia, government-critical media outlet chief Nika Gvaramia was sent to prison, “adding yet another dark mark to the picture of Georgia,” the MEPs noted.
In reference to Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian Dream founder and ex-PM, the MEPs also noted, “the oligarchization and consequently, polarization in Georgia remains high and concentrated in the hands of one person who is not accountable to the people through democratic elections.”
Ukraine, Russia Sanctions
The MEPs expressed further dismay regarding Georgian Dream’s stance on Ukraine and EU sanctions on Russia.
They said it was “difficult to understand” since Ukraine is defending both its land and “democracy, freedom, and European values, which are important to Georgia too.”
“Ukraine merits unwavering support from every one of us and a simple understanding that Ukraine, as an icebreaker, is also opening the doors towards candidate status for Moldova and Georgia.”
Responding to the missive, the Georgian ruling party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze said the letter has “no meaning whatsoever, not for us and not for Georgian society.”
Referencing Georgian opposition MPs, the GD chairperson added “there is no difference whatsoever between Andrius Kubilius and Gubaz Sanikidze, between Rasa [Juknevičienė] and Salome Samadashvili or Nona Mamulashvili.”
Georgia’s Vice PM, Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani said the two MEPs had gone too far and are “attacking the government elected by the people,” as cited by Georgian Public Broadcaster.
“They are directly and aggressively interfering in the internal affairs of our country, and Mr. Kubilius and that other woman, do not seem to care at all about who the Georgian people are and what the Georgian people think,” she said.
Georgia is waiting for the European Commission to deliver its opinion on the country’s candidacy bid soon, with the European Council expected to make a final decision by the end of June.
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