POLITICS
Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins about Georgia’s prospects for EU membership
19 July, 2018
Georgia is a country that wants to become member of the EU, but how does it look from Brussels? - The internal situation in Georgia, the change of the government of Georgia, Georgia’s prospects for EU membership, Prime Minister’s first visit to Brussels – “Georgian Journal” discussed all these and other issues with the Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins.

My first question will touch upon the change of the government in Georgia. Now we have a new Prime Minister. At the same
time the opposition claims that this entire situation is not about Kvirikashvili or Bakhtadze but it is about Bidzina Ivanishvili who as they say is an informal ruler of Georgia. How would you assess this situation from Brussels?


-I am not going to comment on the internal political situation in Georgia because for me whether they are right wing politicians, left wing politicians, Georgian Dream, UNM or European Georgia, it is your internal course, internal situation, your internal politics, just for people in Georgia. Externally, for foreign affairs you have a nice face and very pro-European vector. For me this is the main thing to underline. Why? Because you have your pro-European dimension, pro-European movement. Now you have the Association Agreement with EU and you are our front-runner. You carry the best-looking European flag you can imagine in the South Caucasus and beyond. Compared with Ukraine and Moldova, other two countries associated with the European Union, you are the best in internal reforms, in judiciary reforms, in strengthening European ties. We here in the European Parliament are proud of Georgia. We are proud.
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Tbilisi view at night

MEP Michael Gahler on recent government changes in Georgia and its Pro-Western aspirations at the EAFG Policy Discussion said: “When there is a person who stays behind and yet makes the changes, I think it’s something we need to discuss, something that needs to be said”. In your opinion, does it represent a problem for the development of the democracy and the state institutions in Georgia?

-The opinion of Honorable Mr. Gahler from the EPP is the only one voice of 751 voices here in the European Parliament, even if he is the co-chair of the EU Georgia Friendship Group. Secondly, even Mr. Gahler, he never posed a question against Bidzina Ivanishvili. Ivanishvili, for it’s a fact that he is the real leader of the party. This is your business: to withdraw him or to let him stay in the leadership of the party. I asked for a special meeting with Mr. Ivanishvili when I will come to Georgia starting from 23-24 July this year before I submit my draft on the association implementation report here in the European Parliament to vote on it in November plenary session. I asked for a meeting. I want to ask him some questions. In addition, there is no alternative - All the parties, maybe excluding Communists and the party of Nino Burdzhanadze, they all are pro-Europeans. For me this is the main message. Georgia is not only geographically but now is politically part of the European economic space and partly of the European political space. If you ask me what the situation is regarding in regards to the full membership, had it dependent on me, I would raise both my hands for the full membership of Georgia because you are part of us, of the European Union. That is why I am in favor of your full membership. I fully recognize the problem that was verbalized by Mr. Juncker, the president of the European Commission that there is no enlargement until he is gone. I do hope that the next enlargement after the Balkans will be Georgia and some other countries.
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PM of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze

- As you mentioned Georgia’s membership in the European Union, the Government of Georgia has been criticized for not applying for the EU membership. In your opinion, if the Georgian government, let’s say tomorrow, applies for the mentioned membership, what would be the EU’s answer?

-I have many friends in the current government of Georgia and in the opposition. All of them claiming to me, to the European Parliament, to the European commission that they want to have this full membership for Georgia in the EU. This ball is on our side, the European side, not on the Georgian side. That’s why we are still sitting, thinking, listening, analyzing and so on and so on. However, we did not give the answer to the Georgians yet. This is not the time because the right time is usually proclaimed by the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. This is also a question to Merkel, Macron and so on. This question needs to be posed to them.

- Regarding the Balkans, Serbia and Montenegro, there exists the preliminary date that can be moved forward or postponed. Do we have the similar situation for Georgia?

-No. Because the western Balkans have had close relationship with the European Union since 1995. Had you, the Georgians, applied in 1996 for even associated membership as you have now since 2014, it would be another situation.Had people from your political establishment verbalized this in 1996-1997, you would join the EU like Latvians, Estonians, Slovaks and others.
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Former PM of Georgia and Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili

Let’s imagine Georgia applying for the EU membership and getting a negative response. Doesn’t it seem to you that the Russian propaganda both inside and outside Georgia will use it just to deepen the nihilism among the Georgian society and to show that the EU does not need Georgia?

-This is the ordinary rhetoric of Nino Burdzhanadze and other politicians and parties in Georgia. Do not listen to them. Do not think about them because you are here, you are with us. The Russian propaganda is everywhere: in my country Latvia, in Estonia, in Luxembourg, etc. Do produce your own narrative, pro-Georgian, pro-European. Produce your own values. Be as open-minded as you can so that you can deliver this message to Georgian people. The ordinary people, they do not speak the same language as we speak now. They think of pensions, salaries, social guarantees, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, etc. This is the main thought of the ordinary people. You have to speak to them directly and in a very similar language. And this will be your victory.

-I want to touch upon another issue that has been debated in the European Parliament. The Parliament of Georgia has recently adopted Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili list targeting 33 persons involved in killing Georgian citizens. At the same time we are addressing the EU institutions to take the same approach. It’s about adopting the same measures as it was in case of Magnitsky. Are you going to consider imposing sanctions on those persons under Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili list?

- We are still discussing it here in the European Parliament between members, including all the political groups. They are all in favor of these sanctions against Russia. But I personally do not believe in sanctions as a mechanism. Cuba has lived under US sanctions for 50 years. The result was that Mr. Obama lifted the sanctions. The same case is for Iran.

But we are talking about specific persons on whom the sanctions should be imposed. It’s not about economic embargo. That is a different case. Moreover, it will show the support for Georgia and that those responsible for violating human rights will not go unpunished.

-Just not to let them enter the EU. It’s possible. It’s a political sign; it’s more symbolic than economical or political. I’ll support personal list of sanctions but I don’t believe in it as an economic mechanism. It does not work. If the sanction s did work, you would have got back Abkhazia and South Ossetia yesterday. I fully support the territorial integrity of Georgia. For me Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a part of Georgia.
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Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins

On July 18 the new prime minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze will visit Brussels holding meetings with representatives of EU institutions. What would be your message for the new prime minister?

-Dear Prime Minister, be strong in your pro-European values. Be supportive for every Georgian to clarify to them what it means to be a part of the European Union, politically or economically.

Author: Kakhaber Dgebuadze

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