It's official: Georgia has been left on the waiting list of EU accession.In a crucial summit in Brussels, the 27 leaders of the European Union decided to grant Ukraine and Moldova their sought-after status as candidate countries to join the bloc.But for Georgia, leaders simply recognised its "European perspective," a sort of prelude to formal candidacy."The future of these countries and their citizens lies within the European Union," they wrote in their conclusions."The European Council is ready to grant the status of candidate country to Georgia once the priorities specified in the Commission’s opinion on Georgia’s membership application have been addressed."Georgia, a small country of almost four million citizens, has long identified as European, even if its faraway geographic position, in the South Caucasus region, bounded by Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey, has raised questions about its continental affiliation.As a parliamentary republic, the country has made great strides to overcome its Soviet legacy and holds regular elections to choose its public representatives.
But the system is shaky, with frequent accusations of fraud, intimidation, vote-buying, cronyism and police harassment.Oligarchs have been accused of exerting excessive influence over Georgia's political life and media environment, while civil liberties are "inconsistently protected," according to Freedom House.In October 2020, a political crisis erupted when opposition parties claimed the parliamentary election was rigged and refused to concede defeat, sparking polarisation and police arrests.Read more on euronews.com