Ambassador of Lithuania on “Georgia being tired of waiting at the door” - I would understand that fear, if we were to talk about this in 2020 or 2021, but now the EU enlargement train goes very fast

EU’s Foreign Affairs council already addressed the situation in Georgia in late May. In June the foreign affairs council will have another address. We wish Georgia to advance, but does Georgia wish to advance? It must prove this; it must be the champion of the champions on its European path, - Ambassador of Lithuania to Georgia Andrius Kalindra said in an exclusive interview with InterPressNews.

According to him, the transparency law was and is redundant for Georgia to go ahead with the European Union integration and it has already affected EU-Georgia relations and partnership.

“That transparency law, as you rightly said, so many European politicians have expressed their opinions about it. And if we weigh the opinions geographically and among the democracies and autocracies, we do see what the democratic countries have said and what the message was by autocratic regimes. The European Union itself is indeed a unique union that is based on values. We do see that this law was and is redundant for Georgia to go ahead with the European Union integration. It has already affected EU-Georgia relations and partnership. EU’s Foreign Affairs council already addressed the situation in Georgia in late May. In June the foreign affairs council will have another address. We wish Georgia to advance, but does Georgia wish to advance? It must prove this; it must be the champion of the champions on its European path.

The decision-making process in the European Union is quite complex, where consensus is needed. But why I say this is, because I wish to emphasize this consensus culture; because if Georgia is about to join the European Union, this is also about the culture of consensus. Without consensus, nothing, or almost nothing moves in the European Union. Here, all the countries must assume responsibilities and commitments. Sometimes they need to step back for the European Union to be able to proceed. So, my reply is that - let's wait, let's assess, let's look. But it is very clear that this law is simply incompatible with Georgia's EU aspirations”, said the ambassador.

When asked about the "Transparency of Foreign Influence" law, what exactly was needed to make this law acceptable to Western partner countries, the ambassador said that the adoption of such laws should not be done at the expense of restricting freedom, and this is not only a legal, but also a political issue.

“In the European Union, there is a discussion about eventual directive, and still these discussions are ongoing, but at the same time, it will not be at the expense of the freedoms and liberties. Everything what is taking place in the parliament of any country, this is not just a legal issue, that's also a political issue. That's why sometimes just to focus only on legal elements, maybe this is not the way how we do see the issue. The temperature in the air already since March 2023 has changed in Georgia. This is what we do hear from the political leaders, this is what we do hear from civil society, from the non-governmental organizations. Even our legally registered Lithuanians community in Georgia is about to start deregistration and stop the activities of that community here. Members of this community are not only Lithuanians, who just moved to enjoy Georgia and build up the future life in Georgia, but also the mixed families, because none of them wishes to be affiliated with something that is not very much clear or very much needed. So that's also about the safety, security, and perception of that initiative that has been tabled by the parliament and that has been approved by the parliament overriding veto. This is indeed the sovereign right by Georgia, the politicians and the people to decide on their own way. But in the European Union and in the countries which aspire to become member states, there are no purely internal issues. All issues within the EU candidate country have a bigger European interest. This is how we do operate, and this is how the system of checks and balance works”, he said.

When asked – “The top officials of the Georgian government say that Georgia is tired of waiting at the door of the European Union and NATO - "We have been standing in a draught (two-way wind) for 20 years" - this is the statement that we hear from the government. Do you think it was and is necessary for the West to take more timely and effective steps to bring Georgia closer to you?” – the ambassador replied:

“I would understand that fear and perception, if we were to talk about this in 2020 or 2021; However, since that time, within four years, there is a huge transformation in the attitude towards the EU enlargement in the European Union capitals. As never before, three countries have been advanced: Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, on this EU path with the EU candidate status. There is even consensus about the eventual next stage of the EU enlargement in 2030. What does it mean 2030? That means that by 2028, all the accession talks and negotiations must be concluded. And 2028, having in mind where we are right now, it's like the day after tomorrow. Lithuania knows this as we ourselves went through this process. EU accession talks are very complex, very deep-rooted work by institutions on every sector among the 35 chapters, including but not limited to environmental, social-economic, healthcare, social care, and many other issues. The acceding country negotiates with the European Union, and it either takes recommendations on board, or if they cannot afford to do that at that time, they negotiate about the extension of periods of application of one or another rule. In five-six years there will hopefully already be the next phase of EU enlargement. This is not the amount of time that we could call forever. We wish Georgia to be on that same EU enlargement train that goes very fast.”

Robin Wagener - With the law on "transparency of foreign influence", there will be no EU membership - No chance for that
Estonian Ambassador to Georgia - If we want EU membership, we should all play by the rules - The Georgian Government on the one hand says that they are moving closer to the EU, but their actions do not prove that