Georgia will fail as independent state outside EU: jailed ex-leader

Mikheil Saakashvili appeared at a court docket listening to in October 2023 through videolink from a clinic (IRAKLI GEDENIDZE)

Georgia’s imprisoned opposition chief and former president Mikheil Saakashvili has warned that Tbilisi’s failure to safe European Union membership would put in danger its very existence as an unbiased nation.

EU leaders introduced Thursday that they determined to grant Georgia formal candidate standing and whereas approving the opening of accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova.

The three ex-Soviet nations utilized to hitch the bloc after the Kremlin unleashed its all-out warfare on Ukraine final 12 months.

For Georgia, EU membership “is a matter of survival as an unbiased state”, Saakashvili mentioned in written remarks submitted to AFP on Thursday through his consultant.

“Georgia may vanish as an unbiased state if it stays or is left behind in a gray zone,” he wrote in English.

In 2022, the EU granted candidate standing to Kyiv and Chisinau however instructed Tbilisi it needed to first implement judicial and electoral reforms, enhance press freedom and curtail the facility of oligarchs.

Georgia, which was annexed by Russia within the nineteenth century and once more — after a short-lived interval of independence — in 1921, final noticed Russian troops invade in 2008, throughout Saakashvili’s time as president.

The five-day warfare 15 years in the past marked the fruits of tensions with Moscow over Tbilisi’s bid to forge nearer ties with the West.

After France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy mediated a ceasefire on behalf of the EU, Russia recognised as unbiased two breakaway areas in Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and stationed everlasting miliary bases there.

Many in Georgia imagine that EU membership would defend the Caucasian nation from a brand new Russian aggression, fears of which grew after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

– ‘Improve democracy’ –

In November, the European Fee really useful that EU leaders grant Georgia official candidate standing — with the caveat that the Tbilisi authorities introduces reforms.

In line with Saakashvili, the primary impediment on Georgia’s path to becoming a member of the 27-nation EU is its backsliding on democracy below the federal government run by the Georgian Dream celebration.

The celebration was based by Georgia’s richest man, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia and is extensively seen as the person in cost within the nation, regardless of having no official political position.

“Georgia exists within the state of affairs of state seizure by a Russian oligarch,” Saakashvili mentioned. “Each single state establishment is managed by him and influenced by Russia via him.”

Critics have accused the Georgian Dream authorities of covertly cooperating with the Kremlin and of derailing Georgia from its EU membership path, a declare rejected by Georgia’s authorities.

They are saying membership within the European Union and NATO — which is supported by round 80 p.c of the inhabitants — has been enshrined within the nation’s structure below the Georgian Dream authorities.

– ‘Putin should lose’ –

Saakashvili mentioned the EU realised that turning a blind eye to the character of the oligarch-controlled regime in Tbilisi would backfire, so providing Georgia candidate standing “could also be used as an instrument to reinforce democracy” there.

Georgia’s integration into the EU would imply Russian President Vladimir Putin “loses”, he mentioned.

“Europe is getting on the opposite aspect of the Black Sea into what was historically considered Russia’s yard.”

“If we wish Europe to have a future, Putin should lose,” he mentioned.

Saakashvili, a flamboyant pro-Western reformer, was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013 and subsequently went into exile in Ukraine, the place he had served as a prime advisor on reforms to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He was sentenced in absentia by a Georgian court docket to 6 years in jail on abuse of energy expenses that rights teams say have been politically motivated, and was arrested on his return to his house nation in 2021.

The 55-year-old has accused Georgian jail guards of mistreatment, and medical doctors have raised critical issues over his well being after he staged a 50-day starvation strike.

Zelensky has accused the Tbilisi authorities of “slowly killing” Saakashvili on Putin’s orders and — together with Poland and a number of other European capitals — demanded his launch.

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