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Georgia: Tens of thousands rally in Tbilisi to demand EU membership

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Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Georgia's capital Tbilisi on Monday to demand EU membership for the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus.Waving European and Georgian flags, an estimated 60,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Georgian parliament, days after the European Commission recommended waiting before granting Tbilisi candidate status.Several pro-European organisations and all the opposition groups had called for a "march for Europe" on Monday evening in Tbilisi, in order to "prove the commitment of the Georgian people to their European choice and to Western values"."Europe is a historic choice and aspiration for Georgians, for which all generations have made sacrifices," the organisers said in the statement."Freedom, peace, sustainable economic development, protection of human rights and justice are values that unite us all and would be guaranteed by integration into the European Union," they added.The rally was intended to send a signal to Brussels, as EU leaders are due to discuss this week whether to grant official candidate status to Georgia, as well as Ukraine and Moldova.While the European Commission gave a positive opinion on Ukraine and Moldova, it said on Friday that Georgia must first carry out political and other reforms before it can qualify for the status.The EU executive recommended that Georgia be "offered the prospect of EU membership", a status which has no legal value."It is up to Georgia to accelerate (the reforms) and move towards this open door," commented Commission President Ursula von der Leyen."Georgia must now come together politically to design a clear path towards structural reform and the EU,"  Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented on Twitter."So we

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