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MEPs Call for Suspension of Georgia's EU Candidate Status

By Liza Mchedlidze
Wednesday, May 8, 2024
More than thirty Members of the European Parliament have jointly penned a letter to Vice-President of the European Commission, Joseph Borrell, urging the suspension of Georgia's candidate status for EU membership. This letter is in response to what they see as undemocratic behavior and a departure from EU values by the Georgian authorities.

The letter highlighted several specific concerns, including the recent passage of legislation resembling Russia's "foreign agents law" that limits civil society and silences criticism. The MEPs also condemned the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, viewing these actions as a clear violation of democratic norms.

The MEPs stressed that such behavior by Georgian authorities undermines the commitments made when the country was granted EU candidate status. They argued that Georgia's candidate status should be suspended immediately, with no further progress in the accession process until democratic standards are restored.

Additionally, the MEPs called for a review of EU funding allocated to Georgia's state budget and government programs, emphasizing the need to ensure that European financial support aligns with democratic principles.

The letter emphasized the need to promptly assess Georgia's progress in meeting the nine steps outlined by the European Commission in November 2023 to evaluate whether Georgia is upholding democratic standards as expected.

MEPs reaffirmed their support for the Georgian people's aspirations to join the European Union. However, they emphasized that democratic criteria must be uniformly applied to all EU candidate countries and cannot be compromised.

"Dear High Representative/ Vice President,

The continued undemocratic behaviour of the Georgian authorities, in particular their aggressiveness in pushing through a 'Russian-style' law on foreign agents, silencing and using force against peaceful demonstrators, has crossed the line. Such behaviour has further increased tensions and polarisation within Georgian politics and society, which runs counter to the nine steps to which the Georgian government committed itself when the country was granted EU candidate status, and can no longer be ignored by the European Union. We call on you to take a firm stance and the following measures, which would send a clear signal to the Georgian authorities.

First, the behaviour of the Georgian authorities and the leading party Georgian Dream is contrary to the obligations of an EU candidate country. Georgia's candidate status should therefore be suspended without any further progress in the accession process.

Second, EU funding of the Georgian state budget and government programmes should be reviewed.

Third, an interim assessment of Georgia's progress in implementing the nine steps set out in the Commission's recommendation of 8 November 2023 should be carried out without further delay. This measure was included in the Parliament's resolution of 25 April 2024 on attempts to reintroduce a foreign agent law in Georgia and its restrictions on civil society.

In recent years we have worked tirelessly to support the Georgian people and their aspirations to join the EU. We remain determined to do so, but the democratic criteria for all EU candidate countries are the same and must be respected," the letter reads.