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Borrell and Várhelyi: Foreign Agents Law ‘Negatively Impacts’ Georgia’s EU Progress

The adoption of the foreign agents law “negatively impacts Georgia’s progress on the EU path,” EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi say in their May 15 statement, calling on Georgian authorities to “withdraw the law.”

“The adoption of this law negatively impacts Georgia’s progress on the EU path,” the statement reads. “The choice on the way forward is in Georgia’s hands. We urge the Georgian authorities to withdraw the law, uphold their commitment to the EU path and advance the necessary reforms detailed in the 9 steps.”

The statement follows mounting calls, including by a group of European foreign ministers, on Brussels to send clear signals to Georgia about the effects of the “The Law on the Transparency of Foreign Influence”, aka foreign agents law, on Georgia’s EU chances. The ruling Georgian Dream party adopted the law in the third hearing on May 14 despite mass protests. 

“The EU has clearly and repeatedly stated that the spirit and content of the law are not in line with EU core norms and values,” HR Borrell and Commissioner Várhelyi said. “It will undermine the work of civil society and independent media while freedom of association and freedom of expression are fundamental rights at the core of Georgia’s commitments as part of the Association Agreement and of any EU accession path.”

The statement said Georgia was granted the candidate status “on the understanding that the relevant 9 steps set out in the Commission recommendation” are taken. “These steps require human rights to be protected and civil society as well as media to be able to operate freely.”

According to the statement, the steps “also refer to the need for depolarization and the fight against disinformation.” 

The EU officials also condemned the “intimidation, threats and physical assaults on civil society representatives, political leaders and journalists, as well as their families,” calling on Georgian authorities to investigate the “documented acts.”

“The EU stands ready to continue supporting Georgians working towards a European future,” the statement reads.

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