Tbilisi, GEORGIA – After years of waiting and hoping for membership in the European Union, Georgians on Friday excitedly celebrated a solid step forward towards that goal.
The European Council gave candidate status to Georgia on December 14, making a historic decision to move towards expanding the EU to include the small nation on the Black Sea. Georgia shares its longest border, on the north, with Russia, and a southeastern border with Turkiye.
To obtain candidate status, the EU gave Georgia a list of a dozen priorities.
Other countries that already have candidate status are Ukraine and Moldova.
In a Dec. 14 statement, the European Council denounced Russia’s “war of aggression” on Ukraine and stressed the importance of “security and stability” in the Black Sea.
The EU is expected to make decisions on extending membership to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia by the end of 2024.
Georgia first began taking steps to gain EU membership when it applied in March 2022.
European Council also mentioned the negotiations will begin in early March of 2024 to determine whether candidate status will be offered to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Charles Michel, the president of the EU Council, posted on X, formerly Twitter, called the decision “a clear signal of hope for their people and for our continent.”
This is a “historic day,” Michel said, showing “the credibility of the European Union, strength of the European Union.”
The European Union has expanded the number of times, accessing new state members, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union collapsed and revolutions in the Caucasus nations.
It’s unclear what changes may come to Georgia if the EU offers membership status, but it is likely to be a big step forward toward creating a more democratic, independent judiciary, and economically wide country.
For now, Georgians are celebrating what they hope will be a membership offer late next year.
Nicolo Malestuto is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.