PM Defends Law, Labels CSOs, President “Foreign Agents”

Despite harsh criticism from international partners of the “Foreign Agents Law” that the ruling majority passed in its first reading today, April 17, Prime Minister Kobakhidze insisted at his almost two-hours-long press conference that the ruling party was committed to the European path. He used the time to attack CSOs, political opponents, and international partners for the lack of transparency. He said all these forces sought to undermine Georgia’s peace and stability in the past. He then argued, that should the law have been in force, it would have acted as a deterrent.

PM Kobakhidze began the press conference by saying that the opponents of the law have no arguments against it, claiming that the “law is actually indeed European, because it is based on one of the main European values,” mentioning in particular transparency and accountability. He added that the law is also Georgian “because it defends the core principle of our statehood, which is the national sovereignty of Georgia.”

Although several international partners directly denied that the GD-initiated Russian-style draft law has anything in common with any of the Western legislation, PM Kobakhidze asserted the U.S. FARA and the draft EU legislation “are much, much stricter.”

Responding to CSO argument that they are regularly submitting their financial reports to the tax authorities and their reports are publicly available, he said, “We checked the websites and data of 7 richest CSOs” and allegedly found that “18% of their overall funds were not transparent” and “0 percent information of these funds is public.”

Taking up the criticism that GD is targeting Western foundations and organizations, which are supposedly the country’s strategic partners, Kobakhidze said that “transparency applies to everyone equally, to enemies and friends alike… And, of course, friends should be transparent first of all; this is their responsibility as friends of the Georgian society.”

Brushing aside the criticism that GD was implementing pro-Russian policies, Kobakhidze said on the contrary, thanks to the ruling party’s actions, they “had practically disappeared from the political scene” when in the early years of GD rule, they garnered “close to 20% of the vote in the parliament.” Referring to the recent decision to annul the registration of the nativist Alt-Info party, PM added that they are “the only pro-Russian force left in Georgia”, and even they are facing some “existential problems.”


PM Kobakhidze repeated his party’s argument that following the withdrawal of the law on foreign agents in March 2023, the Government has asked its partners – foundations and international organizations – to be more transparent in their work. He lamented that “there were some initial promises, but unfortunately, despite these initial promises, transparency has still not been ensured.”

He then went on to justify the need for the legislation by saying that:

  • In 2020 and 2022 CSOs tried to “organize a revolution”. In the first case, he accused ISFED of falsifying the results of the parallel vote count in the elections on purpose to destabilize the government. In the second case, he attacked CSOs for trying to “enter politics” and calling for the resignation of the Government, which “is not what NGOs should do.” He said, had the law been in force then, those CSOs would have “refrained from openly confronting the government” and at least would have taken care of the reputation of their donors.
  • PM Kobakhidze also argued that the CSOs are constantly trying to attack and discredit the Georgian Orthodox Church. He accused “specific CSOs” of “promoting religious extremism” and, without any explanation, of “attempting to facilitate political intervention under the religious guise.”
  • Claiming that “of course, everyone’s rights should be protected in Georgia,” PM Kobakhidze accused CSOs of also engaging in what he called “LGBT propaganda.”
  • He also claimed that some CSOs were involved in the “cancellation of some strategically important economic projects,” including in the energy sector.
  • He claimed that CSOs had made a “systematic attempt to discredit state institutions,” especially the judiciary and police, he claimed.
  • PM Kobakhidze also reiterated the old conspiracy narrative of attempts by unnamed parties to open the “second front” against Russia during its intervention in Ukraine. He accused the CSOs of “joining the second front campaign” by demanding that the Georgian Government impose sanctions on Russia and send fighters to the war in Ukraine. He said this would have caused immense financial damage, dragged Georgia into conflict, and made European integration impossible.

Finally, PM Kobakhidze concluded that CSOs are “one of the main sources of radicalism and polarization” in Georgia. In particular, Kobakhidze mentioned the European Endowment for Democracy and accused it of “fostering polarization” in Georgia.

“The most important thing is that if in 2020-2022 the NGOs had achieved what they actively tried to do, that is, to change the government in a revolutionary way, today Georgia would be in a worse situation than Ukraine… Peace and European integration would be over,” the PM Kobakhidze said.

The leitmotif of his entire speech was that had GD adopted the law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” “during all those years,” it would have become “more difficult for the donors themselves to finance these [radical] NGOs openly and openly promote polarization in our country.”

He repeatedly said the CSOs were “foreign agents,” arguing that “it is a legal and academic axiom that whoever takes money from the foreign power becomes an agent of this power.”

PM said Georgia is a democratic country, and only the government is speaking on behalf of the people. In this context, he said that “brazen attempts to interfere with our sovereignty, demand a revolution here, etc. There is another clear proof of why transparency of foreign influence in Georgia is needed.”

Sovereignty First

PM Kobakhidze reiterated that the “Foreign Agents Law” is aimed at protecting Georgian sovereignty and declared that the draft law aims at “preventing the Ukrainization of Georgia.”

Despite incessant warnings from the country’s Western partners that the law would move Georgia away from Europe, PM Kobakhidze insisted that, on the contrary, it would bring Georgia closer to the EU.

He said it was “unfortunate” that statements by Western diplomats criticizing the “foreign agent law” “lacked any justification or argument.” In this context, he specifically mentioned the criticism by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, saying that “unfounded arguments will not become a reason to change our decision.” He again called on diplomats to have an “open discussion” about the law.

“Georgia is a small but independent and proud country… Therefore, we will not give anyone the right to give us instructions without arguments,” he said.

PM said that given this lack of arguments, “nothing, nothing would prevent us from passing this law.”

In addition, PM Kobakhidze slammed the ongoing citizen protest rallies against the “Foreign Agents Law,” claiming that they are politically driven and motivated protests. He also said that these protests are “paradoxical” because they are organized “under the slogan of not strengthening sovereignty.”

President Zurabishvili “an agent” of the “Global Party of War”

Fielding journalists’ questions, PM Kobakhidze insisted the adoption of the law is “a matter of dignity” for his government and the country since it has a bearing on sovereignty. According to him, the law will “reduce the temptation for donors to finance wrong actions, and for the organizations themselves to carry out wrong actions with their funds – for example, to contribute to polarization, radicalization, or once again, for the third time in these few years, to try to organize a revolution, to try to Ukrainize our country.” PM Kobakhidze warned against “provocation,” threatening “very strict” response.

PM Kobakhidze claimed that the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Georgia will also be “a referendum” on the Foreign Agents Law. In this context, he urged President Salome Zurabishvili not to speak on behalf of the people. “Salome Zurabishvili herself is an agent of foreign influence. Accordingly, the only one whose voice Zurabishvili is the relevant foreign power, Global Party of War, which we have talked about many times.”

Attacking the German Chancellor, Ambassador

PM once again reiterated that Georgia’s international partners, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, did not bring a single argument as to why the law is not compatible with EU legislation and claimed that, “in fact, our terminology does not repeat the Russian terminology and [instead] repeats the European terminology.”

The Head of Government personally attacked the German Ambassador to Georgia, accusing him of “spreading the wrong information” and added that the Ambassador “sometimes accompanies Lelo [opposition political party in Georgia] on the campaign trail, and maybe he got this information there, I don’t know.”

“First of all, it’s, of course, wrong [from the Ambassador] to take Khazaradze’s [founder of Lelo] house for rent and then to accompany Khazaradze to Bolnisi within the framework of the political campaign. This is simply wrong. That is why I am not surprised that one of the faces of one of the radical parties was hired by [German side] as an interpreter,” Kobakhidze continued. The Georgian Dream argued after Kobakhidze’s press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Sholz that the interpreter Zaal Andronikashvili, a known writer and scholar, had misinterpreted Sholz’s words because he was partial. German ambassador officially rejected these claims.

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


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