If the European Union treated all candidate countries equally, I would not expect the preference of Ukraine before Georgia in granting candidate status. However, today's Union is different from the one that existed 20 years ago and often forgets its roots, Marian Duris, the Foreign Policy Analyst and IR Analyst with experience in European Parliament and European legislation, told Front News in an exclusive interview.
The analyst also discussed the Georgian Government’s current relations and policies to the West, the Kremlin, and the European Parliament.
Front News - Geoegia - Mr. Duris, the Georgian Government claimed the bloc’s refusal last year on the candidate status was “unfair” and “not merit-based”. What is your view about the assessment?
According to the available information, I see more rational arguments are on the side of the Georgian government. The European Commission has urged Tbilisi to fulfill 12 conditions to obtain the status, including ending political polarization, progress on media freedom or so-called gender equality. However, much of what was declared was not supported by any evidence.
Front News - What do you think about the views that Tbilisi’s obtaining the candidate status will prolong the current Government's stay in office, which may not be in the interests of the West?
This view may reveal the root of the issue and the reason why candidate status was not obtained. The activities of European institutions in recent years are often motivated by political and geopolitical interests. Sometimes the interests of Member states, but more often by the interests of other parties.
Front News - The Georgian Dream officials have many times accused the West of taking actions to “drag” the country into the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. How credible such allegations can be?
In the world, we see persuasion and attempts to make all countries support sanctions and to send weapons and money to the conflict. These steps can be considered as dragging into war. And war is something that none of us wants and nobody wants his country to bear its consequences.
Front News - What do you think, will Tbilisi’s refusal to impose sanctions on Russia or reject Moscow’s move to restore direct flights with Georgia have an influence on Georgia’s EU integration?
It will certainly never be said openly, but in fact there is a high probability that it can have an effect. In Europe, there are states that have been politically attacked just because they doubted the introduction of sanctions at all.
Front News - How would you assess Tbilisi’s policies to Moscow? Are they aimed at preventing security threats, or could they be perceived as pro-Kremlin, as the domestic opposition says?
Every country should have the right to pursue a sovereign policy that is the most advantageous given its geopolitics and brings the greatest benefit to citizens. And no distant officials should criticize or disadvantage this country. Mainly when they talk so much about the rule of law, equal opportunities, freedom or democracy.
Front News - How would you assess the current communication between the European Parliament and the Georgian Government?
Although there may be voices in the EP that bring hope to the whole process, I would rather wait. There are certainly dozens of brilliant and reasonable people in this plenum. But the majority is still held by factions which incline to political decisions. Precisely those that will take into account Georgia's foreign policy more than the actual fulfillment of the conditions.
Front News -How fair the EP’s calls on the transfer of the currently imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili can be considering the ECHR’s ruling that earlier this year rejected Saakashvili’s motion on his transfer abroad for treatment?
A large number of political resolutions have been presented or approved in the EP, which are not based on real evidence and situation. I am not aware that treaties would give the right to this institution to teach everyone how to manage the internal affairs.
Front News - What are your expectations about the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, and whether you see Russia’s role in the Hamas attacks on Israel?
I see a major redirection of the world's and media attention, which can significantly affect the continuation of the war in Ukraine.