International Reactions to Reintroduction of Draft Law on Foreign Agents

On April 3, the parliamentary majority leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, announced the reintroduction of the draft law on foreign agents, which the GD had to withdraw last year after the March 7-9 massive rallies against the bill. According to Mdinaradze, the content of the bill remains the same, the only change is in the title: the word “agent” has been removed and replaced with “Organization Pursuing the Interests of a Foreign Power”. has compiled the international reactions to the reintroduction of the Russian Law.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General: “…This [reintroduction of draft law] will actually contradict the whole effort of strengthening the democratic institutions in Georgia.

And Georgia should work on reforms to move closer to NATO and to move closer to the European Union… I visited Georgia, Tbilisi just a few weeks ago, and of course ,one of my main message was on importance of  reforms and strengthening of democratic institutions, and Georgian people also made it clear that they want democratic prosperous future within the European and Euro-Atlantic family. So, any law that introduces this idea of foreign agents, I am afraid will actually have impact for a lot of media outlets operating internationally but also in Georgia, and will undermine the whole idea of making Georgia a strong democratic society.”

UN Human Rights Council: “Georgia: We urge the authorities to withdraw the draft law labelling civil society and media that receive over 20% of their funding from abroad as “organisations acting in the interest of a foreign power”. This poses serious threats to freedoms of expression and association.”

Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the European Parliament: “Looks like the ruling party of Georgia is turning towards the Euro-Asian tyranny. There is no compromise between EU and the later one as democratic criteria is not for negotiation”.

Viola von Cramon, Member of the European Parliament: “Georgian Dream lied as usual- they promised not to introduce the law the had to scrap a year ago, but they did it anyway This is a continuation of the anti-EU and pro-Russian policy of the ruling party in recent years. The bill intends to sabotage Georgia’s EU path and please the oligarch’s handlers in Moscow…The EU candidacy was granted to Georgia not because of its government, but in spite of it. The decision was to the courage of the Georgian people to stand for democracy and European values. The EU needs to clarify unequivocally to the Georgian government and the People of Georgia that by adopting the “Russian law” the Georgian dream is deliberately shutting the doors to the country’s European future, as there will be no opening of accession talks or any other form of the EU integration after this.”

Miriam Lexmann, Member of the European Parliament: “The Georgian Dream tried its best to turn off scrutiny of its actions, but they can’t cancel the truth. The GD government once again proves that it is willing to sabotage Georgia’s European reform path.”

Andrius Kubilius, Member of the European Parliament: “This is the same Russian law that was withdrawn some time ago because it caused a strong reaction from Georgian society. Now the question is why they are bringing it back. Maybe it is connected with the pre-election campaign and now they need to increase polarization. Besides, they confirm that they have no red lines and are ready for anything. The statement of Georgian Dream is full of Kremlin-style narratives. This is the language of hatred against non-governmental organizations and opposition, as well as against Western institutions, against the USA, etc. This is actually the language of the Kremlin, and that is why the Georgian Dream harms the European future of Georgia, and that is why they will have a negative reaction in Brussels.”

Anna Fotyga, Member of the European Parliament: “…It is very unfortunate that the ruling party is trying to divide the people before the elections, is trying to exert pressure and undermine what has already been achieved and appreciated by the international union by granting the candidate status. Dividing the society is always Russia’s goal… Getting the candidate status was the success of the Georgian people. In the opinion of the European Union, the will of the Georgian people has won. We still don’t know what the final steps will be, but I hope that this time too they will reverse this decision.”

Žygimantas Pavilionis, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Lithuanian Seimas: “Dangerous demonstration of pro-Russian, pro-Chinese tendencies within Georgian Dream. I hope this autocratic, anti-Western initiative will be stopped.”

Thomas Hacker, Member of the German Bundestag: “Instead of implementing much needed reforms, the Georgian Dream tries again to silence civil society organizations. After receiving the EU candidate status, GD shows its real face again.”

US State Department: “…we’ve seen the reports that they [Georgian Dream] are considering that potential legislation. And And I would just say that last year, tens of thousands of Georgians took to the streets to make their European ambitions known and to reject the last attempt to implement this law. Georgia has a historic opportunity to open EU’s accession talks, and we stand ready to continue to support Georgia in that process.”

Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Georgian government’s decision to reintroduce the draft foreign agents’ law, even if under a different name, is in stark contrast to the 9 steps EU gave to Georgia with candidate status. It risks to jeopardize Georgia’s further European integration.”

Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “The announcement by Georgian Dream to re-introduce a draft law on “Transparency of Foreign Influence” raises serious concerns. EU encourages political leaders in Georgia to pursue reforms in line with Georgia’s European aspirations, as supported by a large majority of its citizens.”

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Norway is concerned by legal initiatives in Georgia on “foreign influence” and “family values”, which stigmatise civil society and LGBTQI+ persons. Would undermine important values, Georgia’s democracy and Euro-Atlantic path.”

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Council of Europe Secretary General: “I am concerned with the revival of the draft legislation on “transparency of foreign influence” in the Parliament of Georgia. Last year, alongside many friends of Georgia, I welcomed the withdrawal of this legislative proposal. I reiterate today that constructive dialogue and upholding of our standards remain key”.

Peter Stano, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: “Georgia: Re-introduction of draft “foreign influence” law raises serious concerns despite ruling party’s clear promise to scrap such legislation. Reforms need to be in line with EU ambitions. Government has to uphold its commitment to democracy, rule of law.”

Gulnoza Said, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Europe and Central Asia program coordinator: “Georgian authorities’ revival of a bill that would smear media outlets as foreign-controlled is deeply concerning and utterly incompatible with their claim of aligning with European democratic standards and threatens press freedom ahead of the October parliamentary elections… The ruling Georgian Dream party should withdraw the law and renounce any form of ‘foreign agent’ legislation if Georgia wants to succeed in its bid to join the European Union.”

Reporters Without Borders: “Georgian Dream party reintroduced a “foreign agents” bill modeled after the Russian law that was withdrawn in 2023 after outrage. RSF calls on the Georgian Parliament to reject this text aimed at intimidating NGOs and the media.”

Freedom House: “We are concerned by the reintroduction of a foreign agents law in Georgia, barely a year after similar legislation was dropped due to widespread public pushback. If passed, a foreign agents law would align Georgia with the likes of Russia and Kyrgyzstan—autocracies which have systemically worked to decimate civil society—and would be a step back from democracy-oriented European integration. We urge the Georgian Dream party to immediately withdraw the proposed law.”

Liesl Gerntholtz, PEN America’s director of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center: “After making a simple cosmetic change, the Georgian Dream party is again pushing a so-called ‘Foreign Agent Law’ to undermine the essential and independent work of writers, cultural figures, and journalists… The infamous draft bill perverts the meaning of the words ‘transparency,’ ‘accountability,’ and ‘security’ to weaken Georgia’s vibrant civil society. Make no mistake, this draft law will codify judicial harassment of independent writers, artists, and cultural figures, amongst others. The Georgian government must walk the talk of improving human rights in their professed efforts to join the European Union and cease all attempts at harassment of writers, artists, and other cultural figures pursuing independent work.”

Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders: “I’m deeply concerned by the reintroduction of the foreign agents law in Georgia’s parliament, despite assurances made during my visit that it wouldn’t happen. I highlighted the harm of this bill in my report and will continue to closely monitor developments.”

Human Rights House Foundation, coalition of over 80 CSOs from Eastern Europe, Balkan states and the Caucasus region: “We urge the Parliament of Georgia and the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska [a similar law has been initiated in Republika Srpska – a constituent entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina] to respect international obligations undertaken by their states under the Council of Europe and UN instruments, uphold fundamental freedoms underpinning free and independent civil society, and withdraw the bills that can damage civil society and media irreversibly.”

Evelyn Farkas, Executive Director of McCain Institute: “I would imagine that sanctions are absolutely coming if the Republic of Georgia passes such legislation. In any event, Georgia has been in violation of sanctions on Russia and so within that context, I can well imagine that the US government has already been considering applying sanctions against those providing funding and material to support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine (And for that matter, Georgia)…This would only provide an impetus for a quick decision.” [Comment with the Accent News]

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator: “We have seen the cut and paste version of the Russian Foreign Agents Bill pop up in multiple places. And the effects are less accountability for corruption, a chilling effect on speech…Fundamentally, a foreign agents law like that has no place in Europe. The human rights and democratic principles need to be not only respected, but also protected.”

British Embassy in Georgia: “The UK is concerned by the re-introduction of a draft law on “transparency of foreign influence” in Georgia and accompanying rhetoric about donors’ alleged interference in Georgian internal politics…The proposed law, if finally adopted, risks impeding the ability of Georgia’s friends and strategic partners to continue to assist its democratic and economic development.”

Sheraz Gasri, Ambassador of France to Georgia: “Georgia is welcome in the European Union family…As a friend of Georgia who wants to join the EU, we are telling Georgia that this draft that is being discussed in the Parliament is not compatible with the EU values, so then it’s up to Georgia to decide.” [Statement with journalists].

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Foreign Minister of Lithuania: “Georgia’s destination is Europe. Don’t derail that dream.”

Hanke Bruins Slot, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs: “I am concerned by the adoption of the draft law on “transparency of foreign influence” in a first hearing by the Georgian parliament. It could impede crucial work of civil society and media. This law does not reflect EU standards and could compromise Georgia’s EU path.”

Javier Colomina, NATO Deputy ASG for Political Affairs and Security Policy and Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia: “NATO is concerned about the draft law passed in first reading in Tbilisi. Key for Georgia, as NATO aspirant, to have the right framework to ensure media freedom and civil society participation. This draft is a step backwards and does not further Georgia’s Euro Atlantic integration.”

More to Follow…

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