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Commentary | 3 May 2024

The Women Leaders Podcast: Georgia on the edge

In our world of disruption, Georgia has suddenly emerged as another centre of protest and imbalance: on Wednesday, 1 May, the Georgian parliament voted for controversial new legislation that would brand Western-funded NGOs as foreign agents. In response, the streets of Georgia, notably the capital Tbilisi, erupted into protest: not only is the legislation deemed objectionable, it is also a clear threat to Georgia’s EU aspirations.

In December last year the European Union announced Georgia, a pearl of the Caucasus, would become a candidate for membership. But in response to this new legislation, the EU this week called on Georgia to stay the course and stop the legislative process. The government is perceived to be pro-Russian, and it is unclear whether it will pay heed, but the many protesters appear adamant about maintaining their dream of EU membership — in line with every poll conducted in the state over decades, reflecting the fact that a vast majority of the population seeks to be firmly embedded in the EU and the West.

To understand these rapidly unfolding events, Ilana Bet-El is joined by Salome Samadashvili, a prominent opposition member of the Georgian parliament and former ambassador of Georgia to the EU. Is this a repetition of events in Ukraine in 2014, when citizens objected to attempts by their Russian-controlled President to hamper relations with the EU — attempts that led to the Maidan Revolution, the ouster of the President and the annexation of Crimea by Russia — or is this a blind political ploy of a weak government? In this volatile region, all developments are crucial.

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Recorded on 2 May 2024

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The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or all of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.

Image credit: Florence Ferrando