The European Union Commission recently granted Georgia the esteemed status of a candidate country, marking a significant chapter in the nation's ongoing quest to solidify its European identity. Beyond the geopolitical implications, this acknowledgement reflects a narrative that transcends time, intertwining the ancient threads of history, geography, and a spirit that defines Georgia's essence as a European country.

In 1999, Georgia became the epicenter of the scientific world when traces of prehistoric Homo erectus were discovered near the city of Dmanisi in the southeastern part of the country. This groundbreaking discovery not only revealed that human beings inhabited the territory about 1.8 million years ago but also identified the person from Dmanisi as the "first European" in scientific circles.

The remains of at least five separate individuals were unearthed at the Dmanisi archaeological site, constituting the most complete collection of early hominid skulls. This extraordinary find allowed scientists to delve into a crucial period in the evolution of hominids, challenging the prevailing scientific opinion that human beings had first left the African continent one million years ago.

This revelation added yet another layer to Georgia's historical tapestry, positioning it as a cradle of civilization and a land where the roots of Europe run deep. The Dmanisi discovery serves as a testament to Georgia's significance in the narrative of human evolution and its enduring connection with the European story.

Heritage, where past meets present

The heritage of Georgia is a living testament to its European affiliation. With a legacy that spans millennia, Georgia boasts a unique alphabet dating back to the 4th century, an expression of cultural identity that resonates with the European commitment to preserving linguistic diversity. The iconic Bagrationi Dynasty, which ruled Georgia for centuries, exemplifies the nation's historical continuity and its steadfastness in upholding principles of governance, a legacy that echoes the ideals of modern European democracies.

Where east meets west

Georgia's geographical tapestry, where the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains meet the azure waters of the Black Sea, epitomizes the intersection of East and West. The recent recognition of Georgia as a candidate country by the EU Commission serves as a geographical compass, pointing towards a future where Georgia's strategic position acts as a bridge, fostering cultural exchange and economic cooperation between Europe and Asia.

From the mythic Colchians to the present-day Rose Revolution, Georgia's journey has been one of resilience and a relentless pursuit of freedom. The recent acknowledgment by the EU Commission affirms Georgia's commitment to democratic principles and human rights, values that lie at the very core of the European project. As Georgia stands on the frontlines of democracy in its region, its indomitable spirit aligns with the mission of a united and free Europe.

Georgia's mentality, characterized by legendary hospitality, reflects the inclusivity that defines the European spirit. The candidate status bestowed by the EU Commission is an invitation for shared values, acknowledging the open-mindedness ingrained in Georgia's cultural DNA. As Europe grapples with questions of identity and unity, Georgia stands as a living example of a nation that embraces diversity.

As Georgia takes its place on the European stage, it brings to the table a plethora of connections with the core values of the continent. The commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights echoes the principles that bind European nations. Georgia's proactive engagement in addressing social issues, including gender equality and environmental sustainability, aligns with the progressive agenda championed by the European Union.

Moreover, Georgia's strategic partnership with Europe extends beyond its borders. As a regional leader in peacekeeping missions and conflict resolution, Georgia contributes to the broader European mission of fostering stability and cooperation in its neighborhood. The nation's active involvement in international organizations and commitment to multilateralism further strengthens its ties with the values of a united Europe.

It is noteworthy to mention that the recent triumphs and recognition on the European stage are not attributed to political endeavors. While the granting of candidate status by the EU Commission signals a positive step, it's crucial to address the political landscape that shapes Georgia's journey.

The people of Georgia, with their indomitable spirit and commitment to freedom, have been the architects of their own destiny. It is the Georgian people who, throughout history, have safeguarded their sovereignty against invasions, making resilient choices that have shaped the nation's identity. In contrast, the political landscape has not always reflected the aspirations and resilience of the people.

The political arena, characterized by a lack of unity and clear direction, has often fallen short of meeting the people's expectations. The government, as well as opposition parties, have faced criticism for not capitalizing on the nation's historical significance and for not fostering the unity required to navigate the complexities of the geopolitical landscape.

Several attempts to veer off course have emerged, threatening the hard-earned freedom that defines the Georgian spirit. The people, having tasted liberty, have rejected paths that would lead them back into the shackles of servitude. Particularly concerning is the need for a robust stance against any overtures that might compromise Georgia's independence, especially given its complex relationship with its northern neighbor. Georgia's journey toward Europe is not just a geopolitical move but a statement of a nation unwilling to live as a subordinate to external pressures, especially in the face of historical complexities with an occupant, Russia.

Amidst this political landscape, Georgia finds itself grappling with the challenging issue of occupied territories. At this critical juncture, the European Union must stand as a supporter of the Georgian people. Beyond diplomatic recognition, the EU should actively engage in assisting Georgia in its quest for territorial integrity. The shared values of democracy, freedom, and human rights that bind Europe together should not merely be symbolic but translated into tangible support during this difficult time for Georgia.

The EU's support can empower the Georgian people and their leaders to navigate the challenges ahead, ensuring that the nation's trajectory aligns with the aspirations of its citizens. In standing beside Georgia, the EU not only demonstrates solidarity with a nation on the path to European integration but also reinforces its commitment to a Europe united against external pressures and in defense of shared values. The pages of history turn, and as Georgia continues to shape its destiny, the hope is that the political landscape will reflect the resilience and aspirations of the people it serves.

Therefore, the recent grant of candidate status by the EU Commission is not just a diplomatic nod; it is a recognition of Georgia's profound connection with the European story. From being recognized as the "first Europeans" to the modern pursuit of democracy and freedom, Georgia's journey resonates with the shared history and values that unite Europe. As Georgia steps into its role as a candidate country, it unveils a shared destiny rooted in the past, flourishing in the present, and reaching toward a future where the heartbeat of the European soul resonates powerfully within the heart of Georgia.