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Feb 16, 2024

EU - Georgia. My personal story.

The fact that one of the main entrances of the European Parliament bears the name of the great French journalist and lifelong champion of EU values, Ms Louise Weiss, constantly makes me reflect on the power and great responsibility of my profession. Journalism in my country, Georgia, is not merely a struggle for a better, clearer, open society, human rights, and freedom of speech, but also a fight for the European future of my country. After centuries and 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this small country, with a very long and ancient history, now has a chance to become a part of Europe, to return to its natural family, in the space where more than 80 percent of the population of Georgia wants to settle.

I participated in the EU visitor program in 2022, which coincided with the end of the pandemic. However, within a week, an even greater evil emerged- Russia's barbaric war against Ukraine. This war, which changed the world, including Europe and its attitude towards enlargement, opened the door of the European Union to Georgia and Moldova through the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for freedom and European security. Due to pressure from the Georgian people, the Georgian government applied for EU candidate status.

Following the positive recommendation of the European Commission, we have welcomed the positive decision of the European Council. However, the biggest challenge lies not only in the decision of the 27 EU Member States on whether they consider Georgia worthy of this status, but also in dealing with a government that may be seen as sabotaging the European path at crucial moments. For example, on May 16, 2022, Mr Nika Gvaramia, the founder and general director of my TV channel - TV Mtavari, was arrested. He became the first journalist in the history of independent Georgia to be a political and conscience prisoner. The struggle for his freedom became a fight for a better future for Georgia, with our main allies being the Georgian people and our European and Western partners. Fortunately, also owing to the EU support, Mr Gvaramia has since then been released.

I will never forget calls from Brussels or other European capitals, my direct communication with MEPs and other officials working on Georgia. As a EUVP Alumna and later the voice of the EUVP from Georgia, I was able to easily open all the doors, because this was crucial not only for Nika Gvaramia's freedom but also for the fight for a better future for Georgia through the European path. Reservation of Parliament and Commission studios, recording of programs. I do remember one case, I had to record an interview with one of the MEPs in the "Radio Studio", and he could hardly find this place - I was able to navigate the labyrinths of the European Parliament much more easily than the MEP, because as EUVP Alumna, an assistant of the multimedia center accompanied me.

Europe's support for Georgia in the fight against Russian occupation is crucial and irreplaceable. On November 8, 2023, when the European Commission was supposed to recommend candidate status for Georgia, Russian occupiers brutally killed Georgian soldier Tamaz Ginturi, who fought to defend Georgia against Russian aggression in 2008. The official Tbilisi did not initially address this, but on her own initiative in the European Parliament, Ms Anna Fotyga, MEP, prepared a resolution. One day before the document's approval, she participated in my Talk Show "Guest of the Day," and I asked her live on air to include another name, Irakli Bebua, in the resolution. Irakli Bebua is serving his sentence in a prison in Russian-occupied Abkhazia, and his health is at danger. After the program, Anna Fotyga's assistant contacted me for more details, and the name and surname of Irakli Bebua were included in the resolution. Anna Fotyga became our voice in Europe, exposing Russian occupation and making a lot effort to save another life, it is good example of human goodness and European support.

Now, the most crucial aspect is the 2024 elections, which will be a civilizational choice for Georgia. The country must decide whether to move forward towards Europe or stay in the Russian swamp where the oligarchic regime will lead us. If this government does not assure fairness of the elections and abuses its powers, it will harm our present, past and future. Monitoring, supervision and support of critical media and pro-Western society in these processes remain the duty of Europe in this situation. 


Disclaimer: This blog article represents the views of the author.