Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

Georgia PM says 'why not?' on Eurasian Union

  • Ivanishvili at his summer home in Ureki, on the Black Sea coast (Photo: EUobserver)

One day after Armenia said it will join Russia's Eurasian Union, Georgia's PM has said it might, in due course, do the same.

Speaking on national TV on Wednesday (4 September), the Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said: "I am keeping a close eye on it [the Eurasian Union] and we are studying it. At this stage we have no position at all. If in perspective we see that it is in our country's strategic interest, then, why not? But at this stage we have no position at all."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The remark caused an instant reaction in Georgia's parliament.

Giorgi Gabashvili, an MP from the opposition UNM party, told the house: "I hope the Prime Minister lied and I hope the Georgian government in fact is not studying this option."

The PM's office later published a press release, circulated in Brussels by its PR firm, Cambre Associates, which noted: "While not ruling out the possibility of joining such a union in the future, should it be judged in the national interest, he [Ivanishvili] stated that 'At this stage, we have no position at all'."

Georgia's foreign minister, Maia Panjikidze, added: "The whole world is [studying the Eurasian Union project], including the EU. It is near us, of course we have to know what is going on."

The Eurasian Union is Russia's plan to create a new bloc of former Soviet republics in 2015.

But Georgia's official line is that it aims to join the EU and Nato instead.

As a first step, it plans to initial a political association and free trade pact with the European Union in November.

Meanwhile, with Russian forces still occupying two Georgian regions after a war in 2008, Russian relations are a hot topic.

For his part, Giga Bokeria, a senior UNM politician and the outgoing head of Georgia's National Security Council, told EUobserver that Ivanishvili's remark "is, at best, a sign of his incompetence."

He said: "I hope no one in his government is seriously studying it [the Eurasian Union]."

He noted: "The Eurasian Union is an instrument of [Russian leader] Putin to prevent the Euro-integration of neighbouring countries, to keep them in Russia's backyard as satellite states."

He added: "If Ivanishvili says he has 'no position' on it, even this is alarming. How can a democratically elected government have 'no position' on an instrument designed to subvert the country's sovereignty?"

Ivanishvili's remark came after Armenia's President, Serzh Sargsyan, on Tuesday surprised EU officials by saying his country will join the Russian bloc instead of signing EU pacts.

Russia is Armenia's main security guarantor in its frozen conflict with Azerbaijan.

In a sign of mounting pressure on its neighbours, Russia recently threatened Moldova and Ukraine with trade sanctions if they initial EU agreements.

"We expect more pressure before the Vilnius summit," a senior Moldovan diplomat told EUobserver on Wednesday, referring to an upcoming EU meeting with former Soviet countries.

Ivanishvili in July told this website it is his "dream" to transform Georgia into a "typically European" society.

But his ruling coalition contains far-right elements who say liberal EU values, such as gay rights, are incompatible with Georgia's Eastern Orthodox identity.

Ivanishvili became a billionaire in the metals, real estate and banking sectors in Russia in the 1990s.

He told EUobserver he has "no backchannels" to the Kremlin, however.

Interview

Georgia's PM lays out European 'dream'

Georgia's Prime Minister tells EUobserver he wants to transform Georgia into a "typically European" society and into a Dubai-type business hub between Europe and Asia.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  2. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  3. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  4. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  5. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  6. Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  7. Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  8. Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  2. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  3. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  4. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  5. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  6. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  7. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  8. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us