Obtaining the European Union membership candidate status for Georgia is a goal that has “no alternative” for the country, President Salome Zourabichvili said on Monday in a press briefing in Vilnius with her Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nausėda.
Zourabichvili highlighted Georgian citizens had “repeatedly proven their unwavering loyalty to European values” and noted the 80 percent support for EU integration among the country’s population.
Expressing gratitude to the Lithuanian Government for its “continuous support” for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, Zourabichvili stressed Georgia “should receive” the status and added the achievement would mark “our joint victory” and “another confirmation of Europe's strength and unity”.
Speaking about her country’s NATO aspirations, the President urged the alliance to take “concrete steps” to “return to the spirit” of its 2008 Bucharest Summit declaration that pledged Georgia and Ukraine would become members.
In general, no one should allow for Georgia and the country’s people to be disappointed. No one should give Russia false hopes that an isolated Georgia will become its new and easy target", she said.
Zourabichvili also claimed Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year could have been prevented if the international community had shown the “unity and solidarity similar to [the current support for Ukraine]” in response to Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the 2014 aggression in Crimea.
???????????? ???????? I am deeply honored to return to Lithuania for an official visit, which once again underscores the deeply-embedded friendly relations between our two great nations pic.twitter.com/3AVpaEvv5F— Salome Zourabichvili (@Zourabichvili_S) April 3, 2023
I remember Lithuania’s support and cooperation [with Georgia] in 2008 and after that conflict, but it was not the unity of Europe as a whole, which we probably lacked at that time", the Georgian official said.
The President arrived in Lithuania early on Monday and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and Parliament Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, before visiting the Museum of the Occupation and Freedom Fights of Lithuania and laying a wreath at the memorial of heroes fallen for the country’s independence.
Accompanied by Diana Nepaitė, the first lady of Lithuania, the President will also visit a shelter for refugees opened in the country following the start of the war in Ukraine.