What's New(s)

What's New(s) - A pro-EU rally in Georgia

What's New(s) - A pro-EU rally in Georgia

What's New(s) ? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Last week we discussed the potential move forward in Ukraine’s bid for EU membership, this week, a mass pro-EU rally was organised in Georgia, which received more disappointing news about its candidacy. How did European media report on the mass protests ?

“Tens Of Thousands Rally In Tbilisi To Show Georgia's Commitment To EU Membership” headlined Radio Free Europe last Monday. The protests were organised after the European Commission recommended deferring its candidacy. Many of the protesters held signs with “We Are Europe”, while the EU anthem “Ode to Joy” – not even very well-known in many of the bloc’s members – was played. AFP said around 120.000 people were present at the rally, the news agency based its estimate on video footage taken by drone cameras. Georgia’s Prime Minister of the Georgian Dream Party Irakli Garibashvili described the March as an “illegal action” according to independent Georgian news outlet Civil. He also pictures the organisers as “the force that was killing, raping, torturing and treacherously handing out [Georgia’s] territories to the occupant country”, accusations regularly ousted by ruling party Georgian Dream against its predecessor, the United National Movement, of ex-president Saakashvili, according to the newspaper.

And will these protests help to get a step closer to candidacy or even membership, according to the press ?

Well, this does not seem very probable. “Heartbreaking” Brussels dashes Georgia's hopes of timely EU accession, headlined euronews a few days ago, when Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recommended Georgia only to be given candidate status after addressing certain priorities, contrary to Moldova and Ukraine, who were already recommended candidate status. The Commission instead recommended the country a “European perspective”. "To succeed, the country must come together politically to design a clear path towards structural reform and the European Union," said Von der Leyen quoted by euronews. The decision came just a few weeks after the European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the EU to impose sanctions against former Prime Minister and Georgian Dream founder Ivanishvili for his "destructive role" in Georgia's politics and economy. The country plunged into political chaos last year when opposition parties denounced as rigged parliamentary elections were won narrowly by the Georgian Dream Party, added the newspaper. The Georgian Dream government has faced mounting international criticism over perceived backsliding on democracy, including repression of free media and the jailing of former politicians, seriously damaging Tbilisi’s relations with Brussels, stated Euractiv. The Commission will return to the candidacy question by end 2022 and assess then if Georgia indeed meets the number of conditions before granting it candidate status, wrote Radio Free Europe.

But then, once again, moving on to France, which is ‘thrown into limbo’ according to POLITICO after a humiliating setback for Macron. Erik, how did foreign media report on the outcome of the elections ?

Political earthquake again in France, where Emmanuel Macron has not managed to secure his absolute majority, a situation that has strengthened the left, but also Marine Le Pen's party, which achieves a historic result and gives the national assembly a central role in the next five years. Jon Henley, the Guardian, stresses that the results are bad for Macron, insufficient for the left and excellent for the extreme right. The journalist predicts a parliament more representative of France, but with a greater potential to paralyse legislative actions. CNN states that the results were overshadowed by the low turnout. As the political tradition mandates, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne resigned after learning the results. However, this time Macron has rejected the resignation, quite a rare move. Le Monde described Macron's decision as disruptive and ventured that the president is giving himself a break on the eve of a possible big bang in the French political system. 

And will Macron manage to survive in this gloom-and-doom scenario? What do media predict ? 

Interestingly, many media outlets have focused precisely on the importance that Le Pen's party could gain in the post-election scenario. The Spanish newspaper El País pointed out that the ‘cordon sanitaire’ for the far right is being broken in France and that Le Pen has already begun to deploy her party's list of demands. Kim Willsher, in the Guardian, also pointed out that the president is seeking consensus with groups including far-right after failing to control the Assemblée Nationale. Although Macron's executive has begun talks with all political groups, France 24 quotes a source close to the president who stresses that his party will not align itself with either the far left or the far right. Le Pen has already made some special requests for her group in the national assembly following her success at the polls, such as a vice-presidency of the chamber, as reported in Le Monde.

Presentation : Nadine Vermeulen