Ruling Georgian Dream party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze has pledged that the government would “do everything” needed to improve its democratic institutions and join the European Union in response to the European Commission’s Opinion today which recommended that Georgia should meet conditions before being granted a candidate status.
“Georgia has been waiting for the recognition of its European perspective by the European Union for many years. We are pleased that today this perspective has been officially recognized by the European Commission and has offered us this guide to obtaining candidate status,” he said.
But citing recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, MP Kobakhidze laid blame on geography, rather than the country’s democratic performance for the failure to immediately obtain candidate status, unlike Ukraine and Moldova. He expressed hopes that geography would “no longer be a reason for Georgia to be denied candidate status or membership status.”
Albeit noting that “candidate status does not give a country any financial or other material privileges,” MP Kobakhidze emphasized that “not receiving the status at this stage is, to some extent, disappointing for us.”
MP Kobakhidze said against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as subsequent economic and humanitarian consequences for its neighboring Moldova, the two countries received candidate status as a “small incentive” from the European Union.
“We understand, however, that Georgia, unlike Ukraine, and even Moldova, has not made the necessary sacrifices to obtain this status today. We understand that the sacrifices and bloodshed 14 years ago [meaning Russo-Georgian War of 2008 – editor] and even 30 years ago and 300,000 IDPs, unfortunately, have already lost their relevance for our European partners.”
Asked whether the ruling party would take responsibility for carrying out the reforms recommended by the Commission, MP Kobakhidze said the outlined requirements coincide with existing conditions in the Association Agreement, which the government had already taken responsibility for. “Relevant reforms will be implemented according to each of these points.”
In reference to political polarization in the country, highlighted in the Commission’s Opinion as one of the key issues, the governing party chair emphasized that not one but “absolutely all political entities” are responsible.
Adding to his point, MP Kobakhidze pointed accusatory fingers at the pro-Europe June 20 rally planned by activists, claiming that the United National Movement, the former ruling party is mulling the government overthrow. “It is clear as day who seeks polarization.”
When asked if the Commission is referring to Bidzina Ivanishvili, GD founder and ex-PM under “de-oligarchization,” Kobakhidze responded that imprisoned ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, as well as former Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili, are the ones that can be described as oligarchs.
“We have very famous oligarchs in Georgia and these are the people who robbed the Georgian people and state for 9 years,” he said, pointing to the UNM government of 2003-2012.