Tens of thousands of Georgians demonstrated in Tbilisi last night calling for the former Soviet republic of the Caucasus to join the European Union.
Carrying European and Georgian flags, about 60,000 demonstrators, according to a count by the French Press Agency, gathered outside the parliament, a few days after the European Commission recommended that Georgia not be granted the status of EU candidate country.
Many pro-European organisations and all opposition parties called on their supporters to join this ‘March for Europe’ in order to ‘demonstrate the commitment of the Georgian people to Western values’.
“Europe is a historical choice and an aspiration for Georgians, for which all generations have made sacrifices,” the organisers said in their statement.
Although the European Commission recommended on Friday that Ukraine and Moldova be granted the status of EU candidate countries, it assessed that Georgia must first undertake reforms, mainly political, before it can receive that status.
“It is up to Georgia to accelerate (reforms) and move towards this open door,” the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen commented.
The ruling party “Georgian Dream” noted that it was “satisfied” that it received “a concrete roadmap”, but regretted that the Commission had not already supported granting Georgia the status of EU candidate country. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that his government would work with Brussels to implement all the reforms so that Georgia could receive the status of EU candidate country.