Belgium (Brussels Morning newspaper), President Salome Zourabichvili, in an address to the European Parliament in Brussels, has welcomed the possibility of her country joining the EU.
The first Georgian head of state to give a speech in the hemicycle for 13 years, President Zourabichvili called for her country’s ‘reunification with its European family’.
She also told MEPs that Georgia should be granted EU candidate status by the end of 2023. She stressed that Georgia’s European future starts with its European past, and recalled the price Georgia’s people have paid in the face of Russian aggression.
President Zourabichvili told the plenary session that the granting of EU candidate status to Georgia would give recognition for what she called the Georgian people’s “relentless fight for their European identity, provide protection and security for a Georgia that experienced multiple Russian occupations, help safeguard democracy, and cement the country’s role as a pro-European force in the Caucasus.”
She said recommendations set out by the EU for Georgia to secure candidate status “are already part of our culture, values and heritage.”
“Your recommendations are not some foreign ideas imposed on us – as was Soviet ideology. These are in essence Georgian. What you are recommending is that Georgia eliminates the remnants of the totalitarian past and reunite with itself and its European roots,” she told Euro deputies.
President Zourabichvili also emphasised the fact that EU candidate status will cement progress in a country marked by recent political polarisation and democratic backsliding.
“While we are the first to understand our current shortcomings, we do not want those to overshadow our achievements. That for the past 30 years – that is one generation! – we have made extraordinary progress through substantial reforms,’ President Zourabichvili said.
Her speech marks a busy plenary for the parliament.
Later this week, MEPs will evaluate the actions taken so far by EU institutions and countries to combat sexual harassment, in a debate with Commissioner Hahn, The draft resolution to be put to a vote on Thursday calls for better reporting procedures and more support for victims.
Elsewhere, an update to the rules for EU geographical indications for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products will be the focus of a debate with Commissioner Wojciechowski. MEPs will vote on their position on the proposal on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Parliament’s President Roberta Metsola will honour the memory of the thousands of garment workers who lost their lives or were injured in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013 in Dhaka (Bangladesh), followed by a round of interventions by the political groups.