Speaker Papuashvili Talks Agents’ Law, President’s Veto, Sanctions

On May 20, Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili held a press conference in which he again discussed why it was “necessary” to pass the Foreign Agents Law, calling the presidential veto a “mockery” of Georgian citizens and noting that talks in Western governments about sanctioning Georgian officials are a “Russian tactic.”

Commenting on Western criticism of the Foreign Agents Law, Papuashvili reiterated the ruling party’s accusation that the EU is treating Georgia “unfairly”, saying that the European Commission is adopting the same law while having an “arrogant attitude” toward Georgia for doing the same. He said that this is the example of foreign interference and that is why the law should be adopted. He was also asked about the statement of the French and German leaders calling for the abolition of the law, which he said was again unfair because they both have a similar law, and “even stricter.”

Papuashvili once again stated that European taxpayers’ money is being used in Georgia to fund political parties and radicalized groups, and it is in the interest of Europeans for this matters to be transparent. He claimed that when he raises this issue in meetings with European leaders, they admit that their money has been used to fund groups like Droa and the Shame Movement to implement political projects.

The Speaker also emphasized that the European funds are used here to pay the fines of people who attack police and Parliament, which, “if Georgia had real NGOs”, would be checked and made transparent. He said that this is what “encourages bullies”.

Commenting on the Presidential veto of the law on foreign agents, Papuashvili said that President Zurabishvili’s remark [included in her motivated objections] that this law will work for only one day is a “mockery” of Georgians and an admission by Zurabishvili that she doesn’t consider herself a “Georgian citizen” or loyal to the Constitution. He also emphasized that foreign interest in this law once again proves that this is a “true Georgian law”, “the most Georgian law ever passed by the Parliament”. He added: “Of course, the Parliament will overrule the veto.”

Regarding the plans of EU integration and how it is possible with this law, which has been highly criticized by the EU itself, Papuashvili repeated the narrative that last year the European leaders who criticize the law were the ones who once said that Georgia wouldn’t get the candidate status if it didn’t impose sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine and if it didn’t pardon ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Papuashvili also spoke about the economic repercussions mentioned by the Economic Policy and Research Center head, Nino Evgenidze, on the BBC. He said: “This particular NGO itself is the organizer of the rallies. The rallies, which block the roads. So, she [Evgenidze] herself creates discomfort and then goes on television and says that because of this discomfort the economic problems may arise… She herself brought the foreign ministers [to Georgia]. She placed them at the anti-government rally and made people applaud, the people who are rallying against the democratically elected government. With this act, they directly intervened with our souls and hearts, in our sovereignty, in our independence…”.

He added that these NGO representatives are “the descendants of those people who used to go to the capitals of different countries and demand that troops be sent to the country to eliminate their rivals.” He added: “They are the descendants of the people who ran to Moscow during the Soviet Union to intimidate their rivals… they just replaced Moscow with Brussels and other cities. They are running to these cities to tattle on the country and in some way cause a rain of sanctions”.

Regarding the sanctions, Papuashvili said that imposing sanctions on Georgia was a Russian tactic, and if the Western leaders decided to do so, they would be using “Russian methods” to influence internal developments in the country.

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