Saturday

2nd Dec 2023

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Russia loses seat on board of chemical weapons watchdog

Russia lost its seat on the board of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for the first time in the organisation's history — while Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania were elected to the executive council.

Opinion

'Loss and Damage' reparations still hang in balance at COP28

There is still work to be done — especially when it comes to guaranteeing the Global North's participation in financing Loss and Damage, and ensuring the Global South has representation and oversight on the World Bank's board.

Latest News

  1. Israel's EU ambassador: 'No clean way to do this operation'
  2. Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law
  3. Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground
  4. Germany moves to criminalise NGO search-and-rescue missions
  5. Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat
  6. Migrant return bill 'obstructed' as EU states mull new position
  7. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  8. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us