Home to Europe

Home to Europe

On June 20, 2022, Rustaveli Avenue hosted one of the largest demonstrations organized by the “Shame Movement”, with approximately 150,000 participants. This demonstration, titled “Home to Europe”, aimed to unite citizens around the idea of Georgia joining the European Union. Similar campaigns and demonstrations were held in other major cities of Georgia concurrently with Tbilisi. The events of June 20 preceded the decision to grant Georgia the status of a candidate for EU membership, which was scheduled to be announced by the European Commission on June 24.

Regarding the application for EU membership candidate status

In January and February 2022, the “Shame Movement” campaigned both in support of the Ukrainian people and against the ruling party’s stance on the Ukraine-Russia war. The campaign gained widespread attention and intensity in Tbilisi and other central cities of the country. Against the backdrop of shifting geopolitics, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia had an accelerated opportunity to apply for EU candidate status. Despite varying government assessments, public protests led to action, and on March 3, 2022, the Georgian government, alongside Ukraine and Moldova, applied to the Council of Europe for candidate status.

"Home to Europe" campaign

The “Shame Movement” launched the “Home to Europe” campaign on June 9 after several weeks of preparation. Despite political polarization, the organization successfully united different segments of society around common values. Celebrities, organizations, students, actors, writers, teachers, and all those advocating for European integration joined the campaign.

June 20 was designated as the symbolic date for the campaign’s closing action. The organization disseminated information about the demonstration’s goals through various communication channels, including television, online media, social networks, and meetings with different social groups. Information brochures were distributed throughout the regions in community gathering places.

The authorities soon felt the campaign’s effectiveness and attempted to create artificial opposition through disinformation and public threats from pro-Russian violent groups linked to the government. The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, urged the organization to cancel the rally and prevent any potential confrontation. Despite deliberate efforts by the authorities to instill fear in the public and disrupt the planned demonstration as mentioned above, the “Home to Europe” campaign actually gained a much larger scale.

Each day, additional social and political organizations voiced their eagerness to participate in the campaign. Furthermore, the “Home to Europe” campaign extended its reach to Georgian emigrants, who organized demonstrations in various European cities under the same banner. Following a prolonged period of inactivity, students from different universities began to engage in the cause, one after another.

The campaign publicly released visual materials, urging citizens, businesses, media outlets, non-governmental organizations, political parties, and all interested groups to utilize these materials for their social media platforms, offices, service centers, shops, and cafes. Additionally, the organization extended invitations to diplomats from Georgia’s partner countries to partake in the European March.

On June 20, an unprecedented number of people gathered on Rustaveli Avenue, leaving a lasting impression on both the Georgian and international communities.

On June 23, according to the decision of the European Council, Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status, but Georgia was not. Nevertheless, the Council acknowledged Georgia’s European perspective and expressed readiness to grant candidate status once certain priorities were fulfilled.

One of the highlights of the June 24 demonstration was the address of the President of Ukraine to the Georgian people.

On June 23, according to the decision of the European Council , Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status, but Georgia was not. The Council recognized the European perspective of Georgia and declared that it is ready to grant the country the status of a candidate, as soon as the set priorities are fulfilled.

One of the most outstanding parts of the June 24 demonstration was the address of the President of Ukraine to the Georgian people.

The second phase of the "Home to Europe" campaign

Following the European Council’s decision, the “Shame Movement” continued implementing the “Home to Europe” campaign, aiming to inform the public about the benefits of EU membership. Informative videos were prepared about the infrastructural and investment projects implemented by the EU in Georgia. The campaign also emphasized the need to fulfill the obligations outlined by the European Commission for Georgia’s European integration. Additionally, vlogs were prepared to illustrate the benefits of EU membership candidate status for ordinary citizens of Georgia, including students, farmers, and children. Drawing on examples from other countries, the campaign informed the population about European values and the standard of living they imply.

Due to the efforts in pursuit of a European future, Georgia was granted candidate status for the European Union on December 14, 2023.

"Home to Europe" campaign on the social network

In June 2022, the organization’s “Home to Europe” campaign reached 2.5 million unique users on Facebook. Content interaction, including likes, comments, and shares, reached approximately 360 thousand. The video content posted on Facebook reached a total of 3.1 million views.

The campaign’s success on social media extended to traditional media outlets, making it a central topic. Movement members were allocated daily airtime on various television channels to engage with citizens about the campaign.

The campaign’s positive communication strategy, along with its carefully crafted messages and activities, ensured its widespread appeal. This was evident during the June 20 gathering, which drew around 150 thousand citizens, confirming its universal impact.