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Tens of thousands of Georgians marched in the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, this week to demand closer relations with the European Union, just days after the European Commission recommended deferring Georgia’s candidacy, Agence France-Presse reported.

Roughly 60,000 people rallied outside the Georgian parliament waving Ukrainian, Georgian and EU flags and holding placards that read, “We are Europe.” Organizers of the “March for Europe” said the demonstration aims to send a message “that the citizens of Georgia have made a European choice and are ready to defend this choice.”

The huge rally came less than a week after the Commission recommended that the European Council grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, both of whom have applied for EU membership.

Georgia has also applied for membership but the EU’s executive arm suggested that it will “assess how Georgia meets the number of conditions before granting its candidate status” by the end of the year.

The 27-nation bloc is planning to discuss the applications of the three states this week.

All three countries launched their applications for EU membership in February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Relations between Georgia and Russia have been tense since the 2008 Caucasus war when Moscow recognized the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent republics and stationed hundreds of Russian troops there.

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