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International Condemnation of Georgian Parliament’s Foreign Agents Law

Georgia's Foreign Agents Law: Repercussions and Calls for Re-evaluation

by EUToday Correspondents
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Foreign Agents Law

The recent approval by the Georgian parliament of the contentious “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence,” commonly referred to as the Foreign Agents Law, has ignited a firestorm of criticism and apprehension from international bodies.

This move has prompted significant debate regarding its potential impact on Georgia’s democratic evolution and its aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration.

NATO has issued a cautionary note to the Georgian authorities, highlighting that the decision to adopt the contentious “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence” is incongruent with its Western trajectory, including aspirations for NATO membership.

Such commentary on behalf of the Alliance was disseminated by spokesperson Farah Dakhalla.

NATO has urged Georgia to alter its course and respect the rights of its citizens to peaceful protest.

The Georgian government’s decision to pass legislation on so-called “foreign agents” is a step in the wrong direction and takes Georgia further away from European and Euro-Atlantic integration,” emphasised Dakhalla.

Potential Ramifications for Georgia Amidst Democratic Backslide

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Jim O’Brien, who visited Georgia recently, issued a stern warning about the potential imposition of sanctions against Georgian officials.

Expressing concern over the third-reading adoption of the “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence,” akin to Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ law, O’Brien cautioned that failure to adhere to EU standards and ongoing anti-Western rhetoric could severely jeopardise US-Georgia relations, presenting a precarious and hazardous scenario.

“At this juncture, as part of our cooperation, the US has allocated $390 million to Georgia, some of which is earmarked for defence issues, and some for economic development, institution building, including strengthening civil society.

“The provision of this aid may come into question if there is a shift in the strategic partnership, where the US is perceived as an adversary rather than an ally,” he remarked.

The US sanctions coordinator also noted that if the law remains unchanged, if the community perceives democracy to be undermined in the country, and if violence against peaceful demonstrators occurs, then the US will impose “certain restrictions.”

“These restrictions will primarily affect the financial aspect, and secondarily, movement regarding those individuals responsible for such actions.

“We’re not discussing this because we want it to happen. We want Georgia to continue its peaceful path towards the EU and the Euro-Atlantic space.

“We hope that this path begins today, and if not, we will revisit these issues,” underscored the US State Department representative.

UK Foreign Office: “Foreign Agents” Law Undermines Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic Aspirations

The UK Foreign Office has declared that the Georgian parliament’s adoption of the “foreign agents” law and the persecution of protesters contradict Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

In a statement by the British Minister for Europe published on the UK Foreign Office website, Nusrat Ghani expressed shock at the events unfolding in Georgia and urged all parties to exercise calm and restraint.

“Today, the Georgian parliament once again voted in favour of the law on transparency of foreign influence. Like our partners, the United Kingdom strongly opposes the implementation of this legislation,” stated Ghani.

“This draft law and the accompanying orchestrated intimidation of protestors are not in line with the democratic values of a NATO aspirant country and fundamentally risk derailing Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” emphasised the Minister.

She called on the Georgian government to change course and retract the contentious law.

Council of Europe Secretary-General Expresses Concern Over Georgia’s “Foreign Agents” Law Adoption Without Venice Commission Evaluation

The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Maria Pejčinović-Burić, has voiced concern over Georgia’s definitive adoption of the contentious “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence,” expressing surprise at Tbilisi’s decision not to await the conclusions of the Venice Commission, which was expected to provide its assessment within a tight timeframe.

The Council of Europe’s press service disseminated a corresponding statement.

Pejčinović-Burić observed that the Georgian authorities disregarded the remarks of partners who highlighted the incompatibility of this draft law with European standards of democracy and human rights, noting a lack of proper parliamentary discussion during its consideration.

“The adoption at third reading of the draft law ‘on transparency of foreign influence’ by the Parliament of Georgia, without waiting for the opinion of the Venice Commission, is very disappointing and does not reflect the spirit of constructive dialogue…

“As the Venice Commission is to issue its opinion soon, its legal recommendations should provide the basis for meaningful dialogue and allow a way forward in line with Council of Europe norms and values,” stated the organisation’s Secretary-General.

Additionally, Maria Pejčinović-Burić expressed concern over numerous reports from Georgia, including from the ombudsman, regarding instances of intimidation and pressure in various forms, physical assaults on opposition activists and politicians, and the disproportionate use of force against protesters.

“I call on the Georgian authorities to take immediate steps to prevent such actions which are irreconcilable with the principles of a democratic society, while ensuring proper and effective investigations into all reported cases of alleged rights abuses,” emphasised the Secretary-General.

Read also:

Attacks on Opposition Politicians and Activists in Georgia: At Least 4 Injured

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