EU suspends Georgia’s accession process: Situation analysis

EU suspends Georgia’s accession process: Situation analysis

The European Union Ambassador to Georgia, Paweł Herczyński, expressed regret at an international conference in Tbilisi that EU leaders had decided to suspend Georgia’s accession process to the EU. He stated: “The intentions of the current Georgian government remain unclear to the EU leaders. Anti-Western and anti-European rhetoric are completely incompatible with the goal of EU accession. Unfortunately, Georgia’s accession to the EU is currently on hold.”

Earlier, EU leaders indicated that the process could be suspended due to Georgia’s adoption of the Foreign Influence Act. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell stressed that if the Georgian government continues on its current course, the EU’s doors will be closed to the country.

Pawel Herczynski also reported that EU leaders had decided to freeze 30 million euros earmarked for strengthening Georgia’s defense capabilities. “Our direct support for the Georgian government will decrease, and we will try to redirect this support to civil society and the media,” the diplomat noted.

Herczynski added that the decision to suspend Georgia’s accession process to the EU was taken by EU leaders at a meeting on June 27. He expressed hope that the new government would begin “serious work on Georgia’s integration with the EU” after the elections in October. At the same time, he stressed that there was little time left for changes.

On July 9, it became known that EU leaders had decided to freeze 30 million euros earmarked for strengthening Georgia’s defense capabilities. The country’s president, Salome Zurabishvili, stated that the postponement of joint US-Georgian exercises and the freezing of financial aid are the result of the hasty and hostile policy of the Georgian authorities.

Relations between Georgia and the West worsened in the spring of 2024 after the adoption of the Foreign Agents Act. Many American and European politicians opposed the initiative, believing it could limit freedom of speech and disrupt independent media.

Georgian political analyst Gela Vasadze told News.Az that EU Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Herchinsky distorted the facts. Vasadze believes that EU leaders understand the intentions of the Georgian leadership well. “The Georgian leadership intends to rule forever. However, nothing lasts forever; people do not live forever. Georgia is ruled by Bidzina Ivanishvili, and he aims to rule forever, changing ministers and possibly even his party. He does not want Europe and the US to see this. Is it possible? Perhaps. The adaptation period is now underway,” the expert noted.

Gela Vasadze also noted that the US should impose sanctions on the Georgian opposition in order to unite it and force it to fight against the current government, which is moving away from democratic values. “Unification is the only scenario in which the opposition can defeat the Georgian Dream in the parliamentary elections in October,” he is convinced.

On the other hand, Ukrainian political scientist Oleksandr Okhrimenko told News.Az that Georgia is not concerned about the current situation. “Georgia is already dependent on Russia, and the desire to join the EU has decreased. Joining the EU was popular during Saakashvili’s time, but after obtaining visa-free travel, many Georgians left for Europe and became anti-European. That is why today Russia is popular in Georgia. Russians buy real estate in Georgia, and most tourists come from Russia. Therefore, the future of Georgia is connected with Russia,” the expert said.

Russian political analyst Daria Grevtsova told News.Az that there are several political groups in Georgia. “The main group, which is represented in the parliament, is moderately radical towards the West and supports former supporters of Saakashvili. Another group is oriented towards Russia and is small, but still exists. The suspension of Georgia’s membership in the EU is due to several reasons. First, Georgia did not join the anti-Russian sanctions after 2022, despite pressure from Western countries. Second, many Russian tourists came to Georgia, which helped support the economy. In addition, the Georgian population does not support the radical plans of the opposition to return Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which could lead to a new war that no one wants,” the expert said.

The Russian analyst stressed that the law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” was adopted to protect the ruling coalition from Western interference. “It has reduced the influence of the West and reduced the risk of a coup. Georgia does not yet plan to abandon its economic ties with Russia, which is beneficial for both countries. However, the idea of ​​joining the EU has not disappeared. Western leaders are considering the possibility of a new coup in Georgia, the goal of which would be to appoint a radically pro-Western president. This will require the repeal of the laws on foreign agents and severing ties with Russia. Western countries also call on Georgia to join the sanctions against Russia. Otherwise, Georgia will not be able to continue participating in EU programs that provide funding,” D. Drevtsova said.