The Association Agreement initiated with Georgia at the Third Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in Vilnius can be viewed as a certain step closer to Georgia’s long desired integration into the EU. But how far do we still have to go and is Georgia ready to embrace European values? These were the questions brought up by Alexander Chanadiri, a contributor to Eastbook.eu, during his public lecture at Tbilisi State University on Tuesday, December 24.
Georgia in the EU – a vision of a distant future?
By Ana Devdariani
Friday, December 27
According to Chanadiri, who had been present at the EaP Summit as a journalist, President Giorgi Margvelashvili has said that if it were up to him, Georgia would become an EU member state today. This rather brazen statement prompted the first question from Chanadiri to his audience: How realistic is Georgia’s complete economic and political integration into the EU in a short period?
Chanadiri himself believes the country has a long way to go. If we were to wake up as an EU member state tomorrow morning, as per the president’s wishes, we would be faced with extreme economic difficulties. “Georgia simply would not be able to compete with other member states on the same level,” Chanadiri said.
Yet politicians love to speculate on this matter to garner votes. “I had been curious about whether these speculations would stick around after the change of government, and I am sorry to see that they did,” Chanadiri said. Although the country’s haste towards the EU is greater than towards any other partnerships, be it with Russia or the Eurasian Union, the majority of the population remains largely ignorant or indifferent towards the potential benefits of the EaP.
This brought about Chanadiri’s second question: Is Georgia ready to accept some of the core European values? Recent events have indicated otherwise and the audience was quick to agree that a significant shift in the Georgian mentality is required to make progress in that direction.
Chanadiri believes this is not an impossible feat to accomplish. His suggestions included simple social campaigns that will increase the level of education in the population and hone critical thinking skills that will help people draw individual conclusions instead of relying on public opinion. All of which, ultimately, would ensure the institutionalization of western liberal norms in Georgia.
Ana Devdariani studies Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Bulgaria.