U.S. Ambassador Speaks to Media about Draft Laws on Foreign Agents and NBG

The U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan attended the event taking stock of the activities of the President of the National Bank. In her remarks to the media, she once again spoke of the draft laws on Foreign Agents as well as about the NBG bill amendment.

About the Draft Laws on Foreign Agents

The Ambassador stressed that the proposed laws are different from the existing laws in the US:

“These laws are aimed at blocking Georgians who are helping other Georgians. These are Georgians who are trying to address problems in their communities and provide services, whether it’s on climate change,  for business associations, or for young people, or people with disabilities, legal assistance to people who are in some cases in desperate need.”

Degnan drew parallels between the way these bills seek to stigmatize the civil society and the reality in Russia, where the government is actively silences dissenting voices. She emphasized that Georgia has fought too hard to lose all its progress towards democracy and the West. This is the reason why the UN, the EU and the US representatives have been actively expressing their concerns about possible legislative changes.

About the NBG Amendment Vetoed by President Zurabishvili

Ambassador Degnan also remarked on the amendments to the Organic Law on the National Bank of Georgia during the event. She expressed support for the decision of the Georgia’s President Salome Zurabishvili, who has vetoed these amendments: “There’s nothing more important to the credibility of a central bank than its independence. We agree with the IMF and the President that these amendments put that in question.”

The Ambassador believes that a team that has performed well under the pressure of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine by successfully bringing economic stability to Georgia should not be subjected to a structural change. “[The amendments] are contrary to international best practices, and I fear that they put in jeopardy one of the most important independent institutions in ensuring Georgia’s stability during a very turbulent time.” – she noted.

The U.S. Ambassador also praised the current Central Bank Governor Koba Gvenetadze, saying: “Georgia should be very proud to have had a National Bank governor of Koba’s quality: his experience, his professionalism, and his dedication to ensuring that the central bank functioned independently of political or other influence.”

Notably, Koba Gventgadze’s term of office expires at the beginning of March. The identity of his successor remains unknown.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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