The head of German diplomacy Annalena Baerbock on Friday supported Georgia's candidacy for the European Union, while stressing that this Caucasian country had to carry out "essential" reforms to do so.
Last year, the EU postponed Georgia's application for membership -- while granting candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova -- saying Tbilisi needed to improve its democratic record before being put on the official path to membership.
At the beginning of March, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, accusing the government of moving away from the country's pro-Western aspirations.
"I am in Georgia with a particular message: we want to see Georgia within the European Union", declared Ms Baerbock, during a press conference in Tbilisi alongside her Georgian counterpart, Ilia Dartchiashvili.
"We will support you on this path," she promised, assuring that "the door is wide open for Georgia to obtain EU candidate status". But in order to be able to "join the EU", it is "essential" that Georgia "put in place reforms", she underlined.
Before her arrival in Georgia, Annalena Baerbock insisted in a press release on the need for Tbilisi to respect democratic standards.
She added that she was "impressed" by the recent massive pro-European demonstrations in Tbilisi where "women and men waved European flags".
Protests in Georgia erupted in early March against a bill inspired, according to its opponents, by a text that Russia uses to repress its critics at home.
After three days of demonstrations by tens of thousands of people, sometimes enamelled with violence, the Georgian Parliament finally rejected the controversial text.
Georgia, a former Soviet republic defeated in a short war against Russia in 2008, officially aims to join the European Union and NATO, an aspiration supported by at least 80% of its population according to polls.
24/03/2023 22:17:03 - Tbilisi (AFP) © 2023 AFP