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International Reactions to Final Adoption of Foreign Agents Law

Georgia’s ruling party adopted the controversial foreign agents’ law in its third and final reading by 84 votes against 30 on May 14, amid widespread local protests and despite fierce opposition from the West.

Civil.ge has compiled some of the international reactions:

Marc Cools, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, CoE, May 15, 2024: “I share the deep concern expressed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe regarding the draft law on ‘transparency of foreign influence’, adopted by the Georgian Parliament in third reading, and its impact on democracy and respect for human rights in Georgia. A free and dynamic civil society is an essential component of democracy at all levels. The Congress will continue its work in Georgia to strengthen local democracy and human rights.”

U.S. Helsinki Commission: “Georgia’s parliament finally rammed through the Russian-style foreign agent bill, in violent defiance of the will of the people and in sharp renunciation of its long-professed Euro-Atlantic path. It is a dark time for Georgia’s democracy and European aspirations. Yet, the spirit of Georgian freedom is irrepressible. The United States continues to stand with the Georgian people, who show incredible courage and dedication to the cause of democracy and a Euro-Atlantic future.”

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator: “We strongly condemn today’s vote in the Georgian Parliament in favor of the “foreign influence” legislation, which undermines Georgia’s vibrant civil society and independent media, and will ultimately make it harder for them to continue delivering needed services for the Georgian people. We are deeply concerned about the effects of such legislation on organizations who are doing critical work on the ground to strengthen democratic governance and drive economic growth…The United States calls upon all parties to refrain from any escalatory or violent actions, and for the Government of Georgia to refocus its efforts on initiatives that will respond to the most pressing needs of the Georgian people.”

Jan Lipavský, Czech Foreign Minister: “The adoption of a Russian-style law on “foreign agents” will damage Georgian civil society and therefore Georgia’s democracy and rule of law. The Georgian government has begun to move away from EU membership by its own choice with this move and a series of statements by ruling party officials. We condemn the government’s use of violence against demonstrators.”

Javier Colomina, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia: “Recently approved Georgian legislation on so-called “foreign agents” is a step in the wrong direction and takes Georgia further away from its Euro-Atlantic integration, a key goal for Georgians that NATO supports. We urge Georgia to change course and to respect the right to peaceful protest.”

Farah Dakhlallah, NATO Spokesperson: “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. We urge Georgia to change course and to respect the right to peaceful protest.”

Edgars Rinkēvičs, President of Latvia:“The Foreign Agents’ Law” adopted by Georgian parliament is incompatible with EU norms and values. The visit of Latvia’s, Estonia’s, Iceland’s, Lithuania’s Foreign Ministers to Tbilisi is a good opportunity for frank discussion. Meanwhile, I urge Georgian authorities to respect right of peaceful assembly and protest.

Roberta Metsola, European Parliament President: Tbilisi, we hear you! We see you! Georgians on the streets are dreaming of Europe. Proudly waving the European flag. They want a European future. They expect European values and standards. The European Parliament stands with the people of Georgia.”

Senator Jim Risch, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “Today, by passing a law that would greatly damage civil society, the government of Georgia made clear it isn’t interested in a European future. This is a massive slap in the face to the 80% of Georgians who want EU membership.”

Norwegian MFA: “The adoption of the ‘foreign agents’ law’, despite widespread protest and concern, undermines Georgia’s democracy, jeopardises its European integration path and will harm relations with longtime friends and partners. To restore trust and progress, the law should be revoked.

Polish MFA: “We express deep disappointment with the adoption by the Parliament of Georgia of the law “on the transparency of foreign influence”, which distances Georgia from the European Union. We call on the authorities to stop repressing NGOs and independent media.”

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Danish Foreign Minister: “The Georgian ‘foreign agent law’ is against European values. It has now been adopted against advice from Georgia’s true partners. We support the people’s call for democracy and strongly appeal to the Georgian government to withdraw the law and uphold commitment to EU path.”

Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister: “Europe’s freedom union is built on the rule of law. This is precisely why people in Tiflis [Tbilisi] are taking to the streets. It is up to Georgian government to seize the historic opportunity offered by Europe instead of introducing laws that run counter to Europe’s values.”

Nusrat Ghani, UK Minister for Europe: “The scenes in Georgia are shocking – and as friends of Georgia we call for calm and restraint on all sides. Today the Georgian Parliament again voted in support of the Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence. Like our partners, the UK strongly opposes the introduction of this legislation. 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. As I said to the Georgian Ambassador when we spoke earlier today, we are watching with deep concern. I now urge the Government of Georgia to change course and withdraw this legislation.”

Grant Shapps, UK Defence Secretary said on May 14, before the imminent adoption: “This is Russian interference in Georgia. Just in the same way as we have seen Russia, more aggressively of course, going to Ukraine. Putin cannot help but meddle sometimes militarily, sometimes through using influence, in other countries which is not good for this world, not good for freedom or democracy. And so, we do condemn this influence, and we very much encourage people to resist that influence from Russia. I think they should, because Putin has demonstrated, not least in Georgia, that he’s not good for the world, and good for his neighbors.”

Robin Wagener, Coordinator for South Caucasus, Moldova and Central Asia, German MFA: “The adoption of the law is a fundamental mistake and directed against Georgia’s path toward the European Union. The Georgian government not only broke their promise made last year to not adopt the law, but they totally ignored the will of the vast majority of the Georgian People who wish to see their country as an EU member state. The adoption of the law will stop Georgia’s integration into the European Union. The accession talks will not be opened if the law comes into force. It’s obvious that the law runs counter to core European values and practices. Creating an environment where civil society organisations can act freely and ensuring media freedom is at the core of all democracies. It is also crucial for a successful EU accession process. We are deeply disappointed by the current authoritarian and anti-EU course of the Georgian government. It forces us to rethink our strong political and financial support for Georgia within the bilateral and European cooperations. Even targeted restrictive measures should be discussed on the European level. The energy and the courage of the protests against the law are deeply impressive. It shows the strong commitment of the Georgian people to the European path. Any violence or continued intimidation against the protesters is completely unacceptable. I call upon the government to respect the will of the people and to withdraw the law once and for all.”

Theodoros Rousopoulos, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President: According to PACE, President Rousopoulos “strongly condemned the attacks on civil society activists, media representatives and members of the opposition, as well as the use of disproportionate force by the police against peaceful demonstrators who oppose the controversial law on transparency of foreign influence, that was adopted today by the Georgian Parliament in an unnecessarily hasty fashion. “These attacks, as well as the reports of disproportionate use of force by the police, should be fully and transparently investigated by the authorities and appropriate action should be undertaken to protect the safety of protesters, civil society activists, journalists and members of parliament, irrespective of their opinion on this law”, emphasised President Rousopoulos. Noting that the opinion of the Venice Commission on the law on transparency of foreign influence that President Rousopoulos requested will already be available early next week, the PACE President urged the Georgian legislators to fully take into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission before this law is enacted.”

UN in Georgia: “UN Georgia regrets the adoption of the Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence that poses threats to freedoms of expression and association and risks impeding the work of civil society and media as core pillars of Georgian democracy. This Law may disrupt critical social services rendered by civil society among other risks. We call for an impartial investigation of incidents of violence and intimidation during and after the protests. We remain committed to continue working with partners to build an inclusive and just Georgia.”

Miriam Lexmann, MEP: “Very sad to see Ivanishvili’s interests being out before that of Georgia. A sad day for Georgian democracy.” She addressed the EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, and High Representative Josep Borrell that “it’s time for the EU to send a clear message to the oligarch and stand with the Georgian people.”

Anna Fotyga, MEP: “Very bad news coming today from Georgia. Instigated by the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian elites decided to impose the Russian-style Foreign Agents Law on Georgian society, clearly acting against the will of majority of Georgians. The Parliament of Georgia passing this bill is to undermine the pro-Western and Euro-Atlantic direction of Georgia. We still support the Georgian people. We wish you all the best in your path to Western structures. Keep your courage and stay hopeful to achieve your noble goals.”

More to follow…

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

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