Thousands of people gathered in central Tbilisi in a pro-European rally - home to Europe - on Monday, ahead of the decision of the EU on Georgia’s candidate status this week.
The rally organized by the civil movement Shame and NGOs came shortly after the recommendation of the European Commission Ukraine and Moldova to be granted candidate status, while Georgia only had a European perspective.
The opposition and the speakers of the rally stated that de-oligarchization,” i.e. early elections to change the government,” was required for the country to meet the criteria raised by the EU Georgia to gain candidate status in the short run.
The manifesto released at the rally said that the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili was a “key obstacle towards Europe.”
"On June 24 the European Union will announce its decision on Georgia and we will meet here again. This meeting will be not only to target our love for European governance, but also to address our anger towards oligarchic rule! That is why on June 24 we will present a new movement led by the people,” said the manifesto by the rally organizers.
It said that the movement would unite civil organizations and groups, NGOs, journalists and media unions, political parties, students, cultural and professional unions.
"Based on the consensus of all the groups within it, the new people's movement will make demands on the government."
"Failure to comply with our demands will lead to mass disobedience. All regions and cities of Georgia will stand up so that a wave of non-violent resistance will scatter all those who block our country on the way to Europe,” said the manifesto.
The demonstrators called on the EU to grant Georgia a candidate status as the country “has always been a part of European civilization,” noting that Georgia has long had the European perspective and now deserved the candidate status along with “friendly Ukraine and Moldova.”
MEP Andrius Kubilius, who addressed the rally online, suggested that “the Georgian nation is pro-European and it must have a pro-European government to become a member of the European Union.”
The Georgian Dream ruling party officials stated earlier today that a “destructive” United National Movement opposition stood behind the rally.