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Georgia at a Crossroads: An Increasingly Illiberal Domestic Policy is Becoming an Obstacle to EU Accession

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Georgia faces a defining moment. The recent adoption of a Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence, modelled on Russian legislation, clashes with Georgia’s goal of EU accession. The law allows for extensive control and elimination of civil society and critical voices, which contradicts the democratic principles required for EU membership. The ruling Georgian Dream party nonetheless claims that EU accession, a goal shared by most Georgians, remains achievable by 2030. As the parliamentary elections on 26 October approach, the party seeks to maintain its grip on power by projecting an image of commitment to democracy and EU integration.

But opposition parties, civil society organisations and the media have rallied against the law, which many believe reflects a deeper issue: the efforts of a small elite around billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili to consolidate power and push Georgia towards authoritarianism under the guise of democratic governance. An increasing alignment with Russia has accompanied this trend, potentially enabling Russia to exert some level of control over Georgia through a local proxy instead of direct military intervention.

This policy brief argues that the EU should implement the steps that High Representative Josep Borrell announced after the Foreign Affairs Council on 24 June 2024. In light of further developments, consideration should be given to additional measures, including targeted EU sanctions on anti-democratic actors similar to those imposed by the US. Continued EU support for Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression will also be vital for the sovereignty of both Ukraine and Georgia, as well as for regional stability.



(Photo credit:  Wikipedia)