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The Daily Beat: 27 May

On Diaspora Day which is usually celebrated on May 27, President Salome Zurabishvili addressed diaspora representatives, calling for “full mobilization” of Georgians living abroad for the October parliamentary elections, a crucial vote that she recently dubbed a “referendum” on the country’s future. “Our future is in your hands, your vote will be very important, and I am waiting for you in Georgia or in the country where you live to show us, to tell us what kind of future you want for Georgia,” Zurabishvili said in a video address.

Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee endorsed overriding the Presidential veto of the Foreign Agents Law, despite the unprecedented international and domestic pressure. The ruling Georgian Dream party is expected to override the veto in the plenary session tomorrow, May 28. The bill becomes law if the veto is overridden in the plenary session.

Public Defender Levan Ioseliani who attended the Legal Issues Committee meeting urged the lawmakers to take into account all these tensions around the Foreign Agents Law and not to override the president’s veto in tomorrow’s session. In past weeks some opposition parties and human rights activists were claiming that the Public Defender was not vocal enough about the law.

Following President Salome Zurabishvili’s announcement of the “Georgian Charter” on May 26, which outlined a roadmap for resolving the political crisis and advancing EU integration, nine opposition parties – Girchi-More Freedom and Droa, United National Movement and Strategy Agmashenebeli, Ahali, Lelo for Georgia, European Georgia, Republican Party, and Citizens – have so far pledged to sign it. The President has set June 1 as the deadline for joining the Charter.

Speaking at a press conference, Speaker Shalva Papuashvili who has become one of the outspoken anti-Western “hawks” of the ruling majority, rather disgracefully downplayed the importance of the non-recognition policy of Georgia’s occupied regions, which has been so consistently and actively pursued since 2008 by the US and its European allies. “When we talk about non-recognition, this is not a policy, this is international law! Here we have nothing to be grateful for or nothing to blackmail us for,” Papuashvili told journalist while commenting on the question of whether the deterioration of the US-Georgia relations would affect the non-recognition policy.

On Monday, the EU Foreign Ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss the situation in Georgia. Ahead of the meeting Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian Foreign Ministers in their comments to the press, issued last warnings, saying that if the law is adopted, it will seriously undermine the country’s EU integration. Before the meeting, HR/VP Josep Borell also confirmed that Georgia would be the main topic of the EU ministers’ discussion, adding that the country was derailing from the European track.

In a letter sent to Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili on May 24, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, voiced concern about the foreign agents law and at the same time commended President Salome Zurabishvili’s recent actions, including her veto of the bill, in protecting Georgia’s democracy and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path. “President Biden and I have been following events in Georgia with great concern,” the letter begins, adding that the passage of the Foreign Agents Law “could threaten Georgia’s democracy and undermine Georgia’s relationship with the United States and Europe.” 


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