EU institutions must continue to ensure that pro-European countries such as Georgia see the European Union as their ultimate goal, Paul L. Vandoren, a former EU Ambassador to Croatia and former acting EU Ambassador to Russia writes for EURACTIV.
Vandoren says that the South Caucasus is a region of importance for EU enlargement.
Georgia has an unequivocally pro-European (and pro-NATO) government, whose leaders have made no secret of their desire to join both of those exclusive Western clubs”, Vandoren said.
He stated that the “government’s plans also – importantly – enjoy widespread popular support”, with 80% of Georgians supporting the idea of joining both the EU and NATO.
The EU is Georgia’s largest donor and strongest partner. In 2016, an ambitious Association Agreement entered into force between the EU and Georgia,” Vandoren stated.
He says that it is an act of geopolitical significance for Georgia, affirming its European identity and its strategic foreign policy priority of developing closer ties with the EU.
There is, of course, one significant complicating factor. The elephant (or, rather, bear) in the room. Currently, 20% of Georgia’s territory is occupied by Russia following the brief war in 2008 (during which, as a diplomat, I was posted to the EU Embassy in Moscow) under a previous Administration in Tbilisi,” Vandoren says.
He stated that the two countries still have no diplomatic relations, and Russia’s ‘consistent cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns’ are deliberately designed to hold back the Georgian government’s push to become closer to Europe.
This is all the more reason for immediate and determined EU engagement. The geopolitical influence and power of the EU is substantially based on its ability within the wider European region to act as a magnet for countries who wish to escape from their troubled past (especially those who suffered under the Soviet Union).Brussels must continue to ensure that countries such as Georgia see the EU as their ultimate goal,” Vandoren stated.
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