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Georgia Is Hedging Its Bets on the EU and Russia

Georgia Is Hedging Its Bets on the EU and Russia
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili holds the Georgian and EU flags at a rally in support of Georgia’s EU aspirations, Tbilisi, Georgia, June 16, 2022 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

Just after Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, raising alarm among its neighbors, a number of former Soviet republics—independent since the collapse of the USSR and feeling the need for closer ties to the West—applied for membership in the European Union. Among them was Georgia, a state in the Caucasus region that already experienced a Russian military intervention in 2008, one that left Moscow in control of 20 percent of the country’s territory.

The EU responded with a list of a dozen reforms Tbilisi needs to implement before it can receive candidate status. But it’s becoming increasingly unclear whether the current government, under the ruling Georgia Dream party, is genuinely interested in seeing Georgia join the bloc. Some argue that, to the contrary, the party is intent on putting Georgia fully in Russia’s orbit.

What the Georgian people want is crystal clear: to join the EU. A poll in November found 85 percent saying they “fully support” or “somewhat support” becoming part of the bloc. Five months later, the same poll found that number had climbed to 89 percent, an all-time high. That’s why if the government, in fact, wants to keep Georgia out of the EU, it can’t make that known to the public.

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