The challenges to Georgia's path towards the EU as a result of the founding of the Russian-led Eurasian Union were discussed on September 30, at the Tbilisi Marriot Hotel. More than 50 NGOs confirm that Russian pressure on the Eastern Partnership countries has become more obvious in the lead-up to the Vilnius Summit. The NGOs appealed to the Georgian government to confirm again Georgia’s attitude towards the EU and the Eurasian Union and called on the EU to apply their leverage towards Russia’s pressure on EP countries and come forward with concrete, effective measures to support the countries and their populations.
Is the Eurasian Union threatening Georgia’s path to the EU?
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 1
The discussion was planned and organized within the framework of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Georgian National Platform.
Executive head of the OSGF, Keti Khutsishvili, stressed that Russia has already managed to get Armenia to reject collaboration with the EU. She stated that Russia has also carried out economic pressure on Ukraine and Moldova as well.
“It is not clear what additional levers Russia will use against Georgia…However, the current situations on the de facto administrative borders provides reason to believe that Russia is attempting to hinder the signing of the association agreement in Vilnius between the EU and Georgia,” Khutsishvili stated.
Deputy Head of EU delegation to Georgia, Boris Yaroshevich, told The Messenger there are no question marks concerning the Georgian government’s attitudes towards the Eurasian Union.
“We are absolutely sure that Georgia has a Euro-Atlantic path,” Yaroshevich stated. He stressed that the strained situation in the village of Ditsi might be related to the Vilnius Summit where Georgia intends to sign an association agreement with EU.
EU representatives mentioned that the concurrent signing of the agreement with the EU and membership in the Eurasian Union is incompatible through the rules.
“The agreement concerns the justice system and some other significant state directions that require significant reforms inside the country. Of course, fulfilling the agreement points will require years,” Yaroshevich stated.
Representatives of the ruling administration reiterated that Georgia’s foreign course cannot be put in question. Deputy Foreign Minister, Tamar Beruchashvili, stated that the European course is not a choice only of the Georgian government.
“It is the choice the public revealed through a referendum,” Beruchashvili stated. She also emphasized that the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreements (DCFTA) with the EU will spread on the occupied regions as well.
“Of course, we welcome this. Speculations that the occupied regions might be forced in the Eurasian Union will not be permitted by the international community through the agreement,” Beruchashvili stated.
Beruchashvili highlighted that signing the agreement will make Georgia a more attractive country for foreign investments and encourage European standards inside the country.
Head of the parliament’s Euro-Atlantic Integration Committee, Viktor Dolidze, excluded any modification in Georgia's orientation and linked the strained situation in Ditsi with the Olympic Games rather than the Eurasian Union during an interview with the The Messenger.
“We decided to balance the situation and refuse ‘Surgical intervention’, we believe that it was an optimal decision,” Dolidze stated.
Nino Evgenidze, Executive Director of the Economic Police Research Centre, admits that the Eurasian Union would entail limited trade space, a common currency ( ruble), as well as common economic or political attitudes between member countries, and of course sanctions in the case a country chooses to leave the union.
“Membership of the Eurasian Union means going back to the past and becoming part of an empire,” Evgenidze stated.
Political analyst, Korneli Kakachia, suggests that the Prime Minister’s statements concerning the Eurasian Union created confusion inside and outside the country. He appealed to high-ranking politicians who are not very aware of the issue and who refrain from making any comments concerning the issue.
Fellow analyst, Soso Tsiskarishvili, told The Messenger that PM Ivanishvili clearly stated that Georgia has a pro-western course.
“However, his statement that each organization needs to be studied was wrongly interpreted by the media and the PM’s opponents. It is basics of diplomacy: never say never,” Tsiskarishvili stated.