The European Parliament yesterday heard debates in preparation of the European Council meeting on June 23-24, when the Council is expected to make the final decision on granting candidate status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
In her address to lawmakers, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission spoke of “wind of change” blowing across the continent, stressing that “with their applications, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are telling us that they want change, they want more democracy, they want more freedom and stronger reforms.”
“They are telling us that they want Europe. We have the responsibility towards them, but we also have the responsibility towards ourselves to make the right choices.”
The Commission Chief said Georgia shares the same aspirations and potential as Ukraine and Moldova, and that Georgia’s application has strength, particularly regarding its market orientation and strong private sector.
- Conditions First, Candidate Status After – EU Commission Recommends on Georgia
- European Commission’s Memo Detailing Recommendations for Georgia
To succeed however, she reiterated, “the country must come now together politically and design a clear path towards structural reforms and towards the European Union; a path that concretely sets out necessary reforms, brings civil society on board and benefits from broad political support.”
“This is why we recommend to the council to grant Georgia a European perspective but to come back and assess how the country meets a number of conditions before granting it candidate status.”
According to the European Commission President, how far and quickly Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia will proceed “will depend first and foremost on their actions and their progress. It is a merit based approach.” “But how we respond to their passion and their progress is our choice, and ours only.”
MEP Rasa Juknevičienė (LT; EPP) hailed “largest demonstration in the history of modern Georgia” — a pro-European demonstration on June 20, stressing that “the people sent us a signal from Tbilisi that they are determined to follow the path of Europe and I say very clearly, we are with you Georgians.”
However, according to the MEP, “unfortunately, it seems that Georgia’s government did its best not to make the EC recommendation more favorable for Georgia.” She urged Georgian politicians, both the ruling party and opposition, to “find the strength for a strong European agenda.”
MEP Juknevičienė also reiterated that the release of imprisoned ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV chief Nika Gvarmia would be an important step towards the “European way of life.”
MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Greens/EFA, DE) called on “European leaders to take political responsibility and shape the Europe of tomorrow where the Western Balkans, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia have a place.”
She proclaimed that the world is witnessing “a once-in-a-lifetime shift in Europe’s history” as Ukraine fights against the Russian invasion of its country.
MEP Cramon-Taubadel acknowledged the sacrifice made by both Ukrainians and Moldovans, who have accepted thousands of refugees since the conflict started. She also stressed Georgia was “the first one in the region punished by Russia for its legitimate wish to become European.”
MEP Sven Mikser (S&D, EE) said that the realistic way of dealing with Russian aggression is the “full integration” of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia into European economic and security structures.
He acknowledged that while none of these three countries were ready to be a full EU members today, “we must be clear and sincere with regard to the final objective which is membership.”
MEP Mikser emphasized that while each country must be judged on its own merit, the “danger of splitting the three eastern partners up at this juncture and therefore leaving one or two more vulnerable” must not be ignored as all “three peoples deserve a place in Europe.”
- Reports: EUCO to Grant Georgia Candidacy Once Conditions Met
- EU’s Michel Addresses Council Over Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine
- Georgia Gets ‘Last Wake-Up Call’ from European Parliament