Georgians ask govt to quit over EU candidacy failure
July 04 2022 12:58 AM
A girl waves Georgian and Ukrainian national flags during a rally in support of Georgia’s membership
A girl waves Georgian and Ukrainian national flags during a rally in support of Georgia’s membership to the European Union in Tbilisi yesterday. (AFP)

AFP/ Tbilisi

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Georgia yesterday demanding that the government resign over its failure to formally secure candidacy for membership of the European Union.
The Black Sea nation has been in a grip of mass protests since EU leaders decided in late June to defer Tbilisi’s application for membership, pending sweeping political reforms.
The biggest demonstrations in decades, which saw at least 120,000 take to the streets on June 20, are being organised by leading pro-democracy groups and supported by opposition parties.
Yesterday evening, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Georgian parliament, blocking traffic at the main thoroughfare of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.
Waving Georgian and EU flags, demonstrators sang the national anthem, before the EU anthem, the Ode to Joy, was performed at the rally.
Many held placards that read “We are Europe.”
On Facebook, the rally’s organisers earlier called on Bidznia Ivanishvili, founder of the country’s ruling party, to “relinquish executive power and transfer it, in a constitutional manner, to a government of national accord”. A new cabinet “will carry out the reforms required by the EU, which will automatically bring us the status of an EU membership candidate,” the statement said.
“A next stage of our protests begins today. We will not disperse.”
Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man, is widely believed to call the shots in the country despite having no official political role. Last month, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to impose personal sanctions on Ivanishvili for his “destructive role” in Georgia’s political and economic life. He insists he has retired from politics.
Georgia applied for EU membership together with Ukraine and Moldova, days after Russia on February 24 invaded Ukraine. On June 23, EU leaders granted formal candidate status to Kyiv and Chisinau but said Tbilisi could only become an official candidate once outstanding issues were addressed.
EU leaders nonetheless “recognised Georgia’s European perspective”, a move that President Salome Zurabishvili hailed as “historic”.

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