Moldova and Ukraine are officially EU accession candidates, while Georgia is not. They say it doesn't meet the requirements. That's why 120,000 Georgians are protesting that the targets will be met quickly and are putting massive pressure on their own government.
In the Georgian capital Tbilisi, around 120,000 people took to the streets in support of EU accession and against their own government. The demonstrators waved Georgian and EU flags and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili - a day after the EU denied the country candidate status.
"We, the people of Georgia, demand the resignation of Irakli Garibashvili and the formation of a new government that implements all the reforms demanded by the EU," said one of the organizers of the rally. "We're giving the government a week to meet the demands," he continued, as the protesters chanted "resign."
The organizers announced another mass rally for July 3, which will only end "when the oligarchic rule has been eliminated" - an allusion to ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Ivanishvili is the richest man in Georgia and is considered a strongman behind the scenes in the ruling party, although he no longer officially plays a political role.
Addressing the crowd in a video message during the protests, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: "We are free people, free countries and will always remain free. Ukraine will help Georgia find its way to Europe." Ukraine and Georgia stand together forever, he said to applause from the crowd.
At a summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday, the EU declared Ukraine and Moldova to be EU accession candidates - but not Georgia. EU Council President Charles Michel had declared that the EU was also prepared in principle to give Georgia candidate status. However, a number of reforms would still have to be implemented in the country for this to happen.
Garibashvili said his government wants to meet EU requirements in time "so that we can get candidate status as soon as possible."