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Seven EU States Speakers Urge Speaker Papuashvili to Withdraw the Agents’ Law

On May 27, Seven Speakers of Parliaments of the European states shared a letter they had sent on May 24 to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, calling for the withdrawal of the Foreign Agents Law and urging Georgia to stay on the EU path.

The Speakers noted in the letter that they were reaching out to their Georgian colleague as “Georgia’s partners and friends and the staunchest supporters of Georgia’s European aspirations.” They stressed that they have witnessed “remarkable political transformation” of Georgia and “enormous efforts” invested in reforms which has turned Georgia into “an example for other aspirants to follow.” The Speakers emphasized: “We have proudly supported you and are committed to continue providing all the necessary assistance you need to continue on this path.”

The Speakers stated in the letter that last year “Georgia was given a clear path to start accession negotiations” and noted: “We celebrate your success with you and truly value the strength of our partnership and mutual respect that we have built over the years. It has allowed us to have a frank dialogue even on issues where we disagree. Because on the most important issues, on the issues of values and principles, we always were united and strongly committed.”

However, they underlined that the recent decisions by Georgia are a matter of concern, since the Government’s actions “run contrary to those values and principles you have committed to be guided by and that are at the core of your European aspirations.” They stressed that the “spirit and content” of the Foreign Agent’s law “are incompatible with European norms and values” and urged the withdrawal of the law, as well as engaging “in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue with organized civil society and citizens.”

The Speakers also urged the Government “to respect the fundamental values by upholding the rights of people to assembly and discontinue the use of violence and intimidation against the peaceful demonstrators.”

“The decision to pursue EU membership is a sovereign choice of Georgia and its people as it was for those of us who joined the EU 20 years ago. That path was neither guaranteed, nor easy. Unwavering commitment and support of friends made it possible… You have friends in us. We truly hope Georgia does not waver in its commitment to using the historic window of opportunity to bring Georgia’s people into the common area of peace, and prosperity, but also freedoms, and values. We believe in Georgia’s European future and are committed to supporting you,” – the Speakers concluded.

The letter’s signatories: Miloš Vystrčil, President of the Senate of the Czech Republic; Markéta Pekarová Adamová, President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic; Lauri Hussar, Chairman of the Riigikogu of Estonia; Yaël Braun-Pivet, President of the National Assembly of France; Daiga Mieriņa, Speaker of the Saeima of Latvia; Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania; Martin Bosma, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands; Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland; Szymon Hołownia, Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland.

Response Letter from the Georgian Parliament Speaker

On May 28, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, published a response letter to the Speakers of the EU countries, again accusing NGOs of non-transparency and insisting on the need to adopt the law.

Speaker Papuashvili claims that local NGOs are involved in decision-making processes at all levels in Georgia and have an influence on public life, which raises the need for them to meet “basic standards of transparency,” meaning, he says, that “population must know who stands behind any actor.”

He again cited the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) as an example, accusing it of a “lack of transparency,” saying: “We continue to discover numerous shadow schemes that fuel polarization, fund political parties and radical groups by money of such organizations.”

Papuashvili claimed that there is no other way to ensure transparency, but to pass the law: “Faced by the inability to solve the problem by other means, the Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence addresses this problem of non-transparent foreign funding in a streamlined and proportionate way, fully respecting fundamental human rights and political freedoms,” the letter reads.

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