As far as Georgia’s path to the European Union is concerned, Georgia has not been granted candidate status like Moldova or Ukraine. Instead, they have received a promise from the European Union of a ‘European perspective’ and 12 priorities that Georgia must resolve before going forward to obtain candidate status. Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili sees the situation as unfair and unjustified. He also noted that ‘if we are talking about a merit-based approach, Georgia was and still is two to three times ahead of both countries (Moldova and Ukraine). So we would rather ask the same question of our European friends as to why they have not granted Georgia the status. We have no explanation, no arguments,” he said, adding that “Moldova and Ukraine were also given these priorities, but they were given status in advance. That is the difference.”
Among the 12 priorities that Georgia must resolve going forward is the issue of depolarisation of the country. PM Garibashvili sees the situation differently and claims that the European Union is to blame for the polarisation because it did not grant candidate status to Georgia, and it has just started the polarisation.
The thing is, however, that the Commission’s many concerns about the state of Georgia’s democracy and the criteria it wants the country to meet before achieving candidate status seem to relate to the conduct of the current Georgian Dream Party government, effectively controlled by billionaire, former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
In its opinion, the Commission states its misgivings about state capture in Georgia, citing concerns over political polarisation, “oligarchisation”, threats to the independence of the judiciary and state institutions, organised crime, corruption, and lack of press freedom, among others.
The Georgian government’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and reluctance to join in the West’s economic sanctions against Moscow, also added to concerns Brussels already had about the state of affairs in Tbilisi. Despite overwhelming public pressure to do so, the Georgian Dream Government has refused to implement meaningful sanctions on the Kremlin, professing concerns about a Russian backlash.
The PM Garibashvili wants to get candidate status by the end of 2023. He said that if the Union does not grant status to Georgia, it will make a huge geopolitical mistake, and Georgia will look for partnerships elsewhere.