Protesters hold banners during a public demonstration in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia, to show their support for the country's bid for the European Union.

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated this Monday in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgiato claim your country’s accession to the European Union (EU).

Flying European and Georgian flags, at least 120,000 people participated in the call “March for Europe”according to an AFP estimate based on videos recorded by drones.

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The protesters, many of them holding banners reading “We are Europe” in English, gathered outside the Georgian Parliament a few days after the European Commission recommended waiting before accepting any Tbilisi bid.

Various pro-European organizations and all the opposition forces called for the march in the capital to “test the commitment of the Georgian people to their European choice and to Western values.”

Protesters hold banners during a public demonstration in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia, to show their support for the country’s bid for the European Union. / AP/Denis Kaminev

“Freedom, peace, sustainable economic development, the protection of human rights and justice are values ​​that unite us and that would be guaranteed by joining the European Union,” the organizers said in a statement.

The rally was intended to send a signal to Brussels, shortly before European leaders discuss this week whether or not to grant official candidate status to Georgia, to Ukraine and to Moldova.

“Denying Georgia the status of an EU candidate will mean that we are left in the Russian sphere of influence,” said 68-year-old biologist Lili Nemsadze.

Russian President Vladimir “Putin will interpret it as a green light to invade Georgia again,” he added.

The European Commission is expected to make its recommendation on Friday, while EU member states will meet in Brussels on June 23-24 to decide on the issue.
The European Commission is expected to make its recommendation on Friday, while EU member states will meet in Brussels on June 23-24 to decide on the issue. / AP/Denis Kaminev

The desire of this former Soviet republic to join the EU and NATO creates tensions with Moscow, which, in 2008, invaded this Caucasian country.

The European Commission expressed its positive opinion on Ukraine and Moldova, but on Friday considered that Georgia had to carry out reforms, especially political ones, before it could obtain that status.

The Georgian government has been criticized in recent years for the human rights situation in the country, and several NGOs denounced a deterioration in freedom of expression.

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