Georgian non-governmental organisations staged a pro-European Union march in the capital Tbilisi on Saturday, a week ahead of the bloc's decision on granting the country membership candidacy status.
EU leaders are set to discuss putting Tbilisi on a formal membership path and to launch accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova during a European Council meeting on December 14-15.
Beating drums, waving EU banners and Georgia's five-cross flags, several hundred representatives of Georgian NGOs, marched on Saturday along Tbilisi's main thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue.
"Georgians' unity holds decisive importance on our path towards the EU," the march organisers said in a statement. "We must once again demonstrate our unity and ensure our voice is heard."
President Salome Zurabishvili joined the rally at Tbilisi's Europe Square, where demonstrators unfolded a 33-metre-long and 22-metre-wide EU flag, which organisers claimed to be the "largest in the world".
"I'm sure we will get EU candidacy because we, Georgians, belong to Europe," one of the rally participants, student Marika Gerliani, 20, told AFP.
Another demonstrator, 60-year-old mathematician Nika Tvauri, said: "It's about Georgia returning home. Hello Europe, goodbye Russia."
Georgia applied for EU membership alongside Ukraine and Moldova after Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbour in February 2022.
EU leaders have granted candidate status to Kyiv and Chisinau but urged Tbilisi to first implement judicial and electoral reforms, improve press freedom and curtail the power of oligarchs.
In November, European Commission recommended EU leaders to grant Tbilisi an official candidate status.
The recommendation came with a caveat that the Georgian government takes reform steps "that mirror the genuine aspirations of the overwhelming majority of its citizens to join the European Union."
Membership in the European Union and NATO is enshrined in Georgia's constitution and supported -- according to opinion polls -- by around 80 percent of the country's population.