On November 8, 2023, a momentous announcement reverberated across Europe, heralding a historic milestone for Georgia. The European Commission, under the leadership of President Ursula von der Leyen, formally recommended granting Georgia the coveted status of Candidate for European Union (EU) Membership. This pivotal step is poised to shape Georgia’s future, further underlining its commitment to the values and principles of the European Union.
The European Council will take the decision on granting the status in December 2023.
In her statement, President Ursula von der Leyen articulated the Commission’s resolute support for Georgia’s European aspirations, emphasizing the need for specific reforms to accompany this journey. She lauded the positive steps taken by Georgia, particularly highlighting the active involvement of the opposition in parliamentary processes, and the significant strides taken toward deoligarchization.
President von der Leyen underscored the importance of EU enlargement in strengthening unity, affirming the European Union’s commitment to expanding its reach.
“The European Commission recommends that Georgia be granted candidate status. We fully support the European aspirations of Georgian citizens. These positive steps need to be taken into account by the government. The opposition is actively involved in parliamentary processes, and we have important steps forward in deoligarchization. My main message is that EU enlargement is important to build a strong unity,” she said.
Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, echoed the sentiment of the EU’s open door, emphasizing the Georgian people’s unwavering commitment to European values. He assured Georgia of continued support on its path to EU integration, further cementing the nation’s bond with the EU.
“The Georgian people have shown their unshaken commitment to European values many times. The EU’s door is open. We will continue supporting Georgia on its EU path,” he said.
In response to the Commission’s recommendation, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, expressed profound gratitude. He hailed the decision as a historic one, recognizing the tireless efforts and achievements of Georgia. Garibashvili praised the unity and hard work of the Georgian team, including the Parliament of Georgia and the Chairman of the Parliament, whose collaboration he said had culminated in this momentous occasion.
“It is a great honor for me to congratulate you on today’s historic decision. The European Commission positively evaluated the results achieved and recommended the European Council to grant Georgia candidate status. This is a truly historic day, this is a historic decision from the European Commission. I would like to thank the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, I would also like to thank European Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi, who is a great friend of our country. This period was very busy, quite emotionally so, too, because we did a lot of work. I would like to thank our united, strong team – the Parliament of Georgia, each member of our team, the Chairman of the Parliament, the chairman of our party, since this was the result of our joint work. As you know, for the last year, we were working 24 hours a day to implement the 12 recommendations.”
This significant step caught the attention of European leaders, among them Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who congratulated the Georgian people on the European Commission’s positive assessment of both Ukraine and Georgia’s efforts toward EU membership. He took the opportunity, in his call to President Zurabishvili, to express his appreciation for Georgia’s participation in the recent Peace Formula meeting in Malta and to raise concerns about access to medical treatment for Ukrainian citizen Mikheil Saakashvili.
Rasa Jukneviciene, a prominent figure in European politics, voiced her thoughts on the EC decision, highlighting the role of the Georgian people in preserving Georgia’s path to EU membership, and contrasting it with the current government’s actions. She lamented the fact that Georgia, once a leader in the process, was not standing alongside Ukraine and Moldova due to the decisions made by the government.
“Georgia’s accession to the EU was saved by the Georgian people – the current Government is the one responsible for the fact that Georgia, once a leader in the process, is not together with Ukraine and Moldova today. That is the greatest wrongdoing of this government against its people,” she said.
Pawel Herczynski, the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, emphasized the significance of this recommendation during a speech at the Orbeliani Palace. He described the European Union’s perception of Georgia as a leading partner in the region, capable of contributing significantly to peace and stability in the neighborhood. This recognition is a testament to the progress Georgia has achieved in recent years.
Pawel Herczynski: “This is truly a historic day. The European Commission recommended that Georgia be granted candidate status. I want to sincerely congratulate you and congratulate all political leaders in Georgia. I want to congratulate the President of Georgia for her efforts, but first of all, I want to congratulate all of you, the citizens of Georgia. You consistently supported Georgia’s European integration. This is a great recognition by the European Union of the progress you have achieved in recent years and support for Georgia’s EU integration.”
Furthermore, he touched on the tragic killing of Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi near the occupation line and the urgent need to end the occupation. He called for unity and support from both the Georgian people and the European Union in ending the tragic division in Georgia.
The European Commission’s recommendation to grant Georgia the status of a candidate for EU membership marks a historic and pivotal moment in Georgia’s European integration journey. The unwavering commitment of the Georgian people and the continued support of European leaders are essential in shaping the future of Georgia within the European Union. As the European Council decides in December, many around the world will be watching closely, hopeful that Georgia’s path to the EU will soon become a reality.