Strong Civil Society Effort Key to Advancing Georgia’s EU Candidacy
Nonetheless, government suppression of free speech and control of culture indicate a concerning move away from human rights values.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(NEW YORK) As Georgia advances a step closer to European Union membership, PEN America applauds Georgia’s civil society’s unwavering commitment to free expression and human rights. By remaining committed to their values in the face of government suppression efforts, Georgia’s artists, writers, filmmakers, cultural workers, and others created space for public opinion to develop and be heard, as documented in our latest report, Taming Culture in Georgia: Georgian Government Clamps Down on Freedom of Speech and Cultural Expression.
“We are delighted with the European Union’s decision to advance Georgia’s EU candidate status. Despite orchestrated attempts by the ruling Georgian Dream party to redirect public support away from Europe, the will of the Georgian people has been heard in Brussels. Writers, journalists, artists, and other members of civil society have advocated tirelessly for democratic reforms despite government attempts to curtail civic engagement and suppress freedom of expression,” said Polina Sadovskaya, PEN America’s Advocacy and Eurasia director.
“While European Union membership would go a long way toward establishing a rights-based future for Georgians, it is no guarantee of long-term freedom and independence, as we’ve seen in a handful of EU member countries currently experiencing democratic backsliding. Societies require a robust civil society, with writers, artists, cultural workers, and others free to express themselves without government repression.
“Given Georgia’s precarious position as a rare democratic state in an otherwise turbulent region, its security requires continued vigilance from the international community. This includes independent foreign funding for Georgian civil society and continued international pressure on the Georgian government so that it refrains from practices that limit free expression.”
Georgia submitted its official application for European Union (EU) membership in March 2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. Member states are expected to vote on the enlargement in December.
About PEN America
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more, visit PEN.org.
Contact: Dietlind Lerner, [email protected], +1 310 699 8777