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Georgia says Hungary would back its EU candidacy in December EU talks

by Martin Fornusek December 7, 2023 2:38 PM 3 min read
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) is talking with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili (R) for the third meeting of the European Political Community on October 5, 2023 in Granada, Spain. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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The leader of Georgia's ruling party said that Budapest backs Tbilisi's EU candidacy, stressing that European aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine are separate issues, Gruzia Online reported on Dec. 7.

Hungary, broadly considered the most Kremlin-friendly EU member, opposes the start of membership talks with Ukraine – a candidate since 2022 – on account that it is embroiled in a war with Russia, among other reasons.

Just like in Ukraine's case, parts of Georgia are also occupied by Russian forces, with the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia under Moscow's control since the 2008 war.

"We have received a very firm promise that Hungary will support granting candidate status to Georgia," said Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream party, which has been accused of drawing the South Caucasian country into the Kremlin's orbit.

Kobakhidze voiced confidence that the upcoming European Council summit on Dec. 14-15 would result in a positive decision for Georgia, adding that "Hungary will very strongly support it."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in October that Georgia should be granted the candidacy status and voiced disappointment that it had not received it last year.

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Many EU leaders said that the upcoming December talks should also address the launch of Kyiv's membership negotiations after the Commission recommended it in November.

Hungary announced in advance it would oppose such a step and asked for Ukraine's bid to be taken off the agenda.

"It is absolutely artificial to connect the issue of Georgia with the negotiations that will be conducted around the issue of Ukraine," Kobakhidze commented.

The Georgian official claimed that while Ukraine and Moldova received the candidacy last June, Tbilisi was skipped even though it was, in his words, "significantly ahead of both of these countries."

He nevertheless added that Georgia supports both Ukraine and Moldova on their path toward European integration.

Brussels' assessment of Georgia's EU bid in 2022 merely recognized Tbilisi's "European perspective" and submitted a list of issues the country needed to address, such as de-oligarchization and the proper functioning of all state institutions.

Tbilisi appears to be inching closer to the candidacy, however, as the European Commission recommended grating Georgia the status in its more recent assessment on Nov. 8.

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