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International Reactions to Presidential Veto Override, Final Adoption of Foreign Agents Law

On May 28, at 7 p.m., the ruling Georgian Dream majority overrode the president’s veto on the foreign agents’ law with 66 votes in favor and 0 against. The law was subsequently voted for with 84 votes in favor and 4 against, meaning that it’s only a matter of days before the widely opposed bill is signed into law.

We have compiled international reactions to the presidential veto override and final passage of the foreign agents law:

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission: “The Georgian people overwhelmingly want to join the EU. But the law on foreign influence transparency goes against core principles and values of the EU, negatively impacting Georgia’s EU path. We’re considering all options and urge the government to recommit to the EU aspirations.”

Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania: “Georgia deserves better. Only a couple of days after its Independence Day, new law represents a dangerous breaking from the democratic values. It turns the country away from Europe. Lithuania will always support free and independent Georgia and its brave people. President Salome Zurabishvili, stay strong!”

Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic: “Slovakia is a friend of Georgia and its people, supporting their EU aspirations. The enactment of the law on foreign influence goes against these very aspirations. The vast public support in Georgia for the European Union and its values deserves to be respected.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuanian FM: “A very sad day for Georgia and the rest of Europe. The passing of this law effectively puts Georgia’s accession to the EU on hold, with no benefit for anybody. Almost anybody.”

Baiba Braže, Latvian FM: “Deeply regret Georgian parliament’s decision to adopt the law that will deviate the country from its EU integration path. Last year EU gave a chance to Georgia by granting her a candidate status. This was a historical moment for Georgia and clearly supported by its people. Sad day.”

Margus Tsahkna, Estonian FM: “We are dismayed by Georgia’s Parliament’s choice not to use the historic opportunity to move on with the European integration and to leave its people in the enlargement waiting room for indefinite future.”

Annalena Baerbock, German FM: “The government of Georgia is once again brushing aside the will of the vast majority of Georgians who take to the streets for their European future day in, day out. And hence, is leading the country away from Europe. But it‘s never too late to change course.”

Michael Roth, Chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee: “A sad day for Georgia and Europe. The Georgian Parliament has overridden the President’s veto on „foreign agent law“’. I stand with all Georgians fighting peacefully for freedom, democracy, and dignity. Don’t forget: „When they go low, we go high.“ Don’t give up. Elections come soon.”

Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, Icelandic FM: “The people of Georgia had their eyes set on a European future, which the Government has now put in jeopardy with the passing of the foreign agent law. Regret that the Government has effectively chosen to halt the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia.”

Tobias Billström, Swedish FM: “In Georgia, the ruling majority has decided to override the President’s veto and adopt the law on foreign influence despite large protests, unequivocal calls by the international community, and the Venice Commission’s recommendation to repeal it. As the law is incompatible with EU norms and values, the decision will have consequences for EU-Georgia relations.”

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Danish FM: “Despite popular opposition and international appeals, Georgia’s ruling party has today passed the foreign agent law to silence opposition, media and NGOs. Unless the ruling party changes its course of action, Georgia will not advance on path to EU membership.”

Norwegian MFA: “Georgian Dream’s overruling of veto on “foreign agents law” a clear signal: EU integration not a key priority for the government. We hope to see Georgia join the European family of independent democracies and stand by the Georgian people in their wish for a European future for their country.”

Austrian MFA: “We deeply regret the final adoption of the law on transparency of foreign influence by the Georgian Parliament. This is an alarming move in the wrong direction! It contradicts the wish of the majority of the people of Georgia for a European future.”

Hanke Bruins Slot, Dutch FM: “The decision of Georgia’s parliament to override the presidential veto on the ‘Foreign Influence’ law is a regrettable step. The law is incompatible with EU standards, as clearly outlined by Venice Commission. As EU, we will consider all options in reaction to these developments.”

French MFA: “France, like the European Union, deplores the Georgian Parliament’s decision to adopt the law on “transparency of foreign influence” on May 28, despite its incompatibility with the values and principles on which the European Union, to which Georgia is a candidate, is founded. The role of civil society and independent media is essential to democratic life. It is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities to maintain and strengthen an environment conducive to their work and security. Together with its European partners, France will continue to support Georgia’s democracy, European path and sovereignty, to which the Georgian people have shown their deep attachment.”

British Embassy in Georgia: “The UK is deeply concerned at the overturning of the Presidential veto on the Transparency of Foreign Influence law. We remain of the view that the law represents a backwards step that will actively harm Georgia’s efforts to integrate with Euro-Atlantic institutions.”

Kevin Hamilton, Ambassador of Canada to Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan: “Disappointing outcome in Georgia’s parliament yesterday. The ruling party’s “foreign agents” bill is an obstacle on Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path. Confident that Georgians will eventually overcome this setback, equipped with their nation’s typical stoicism and resolve.”

Anna Fotyga, MEP: “It should be the Georgian Dream leadership that pays the price for its harmful policy of rapprochement with the bloody Kremlin regime. We shouldn’t punish the people of Georgia, who, despite repressions, are courageously upholding their desire to join Euro-Atlantic institutions. I commend the Helsinki Commission for acting to protect Georgians’ democracy and European choice. Europe should pass our own MEGOBARI Act to send a clear message: we will not turn a blind eye to Georgia’s gradual shift into the Russian sphere of influence.”

Miriam M. Lexmann, MEP: “We, in European Parliament take note of the Georgian Dream-majority parliament vote to override the veto of the shameful Russian Law. We stand resolutely with the people of Georgia in defence of their freedom, democracy & European aspirations.”

Viola von Cramon, MEP: “Georgian Dream had a million chances not to betray Georgia but they still chose to obey Putin. History is never kind to traitors. Despite this setback, the story ends well for the people of Georgia. Sooner or later, they will join the EU and no Russia or their proxies can change that.”

Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator: “Disappointed but not surprised by Georgia Dream’s decision to override the President’s veto on the foreign agent’s law. My Georgian People’s Act would ensure accountability for those endangering democracy in Georgia and ignoring the overwhelming wishes of the Georgian people.”

Jim Risch, U.S. Senator: With this move, the Georgian government has taken a firm step away from building a free and democratic society. While the U.S. will continue to support the Georgian people, their government should no longer enjoy the support of the United States.”

Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, and Steve Cohen, Ranking Member of the Helsinki Commission: “The forced implementation of this Russian-style law in Georgia, despite the overwhelmingly clear will of the Georgian people, is intended as a final blow to Georgian democracy and the people’s Euro-Atlantic future…We strongly condemn the Georgian government’s forced enactment of the Russian-style law, and the broader campaign of repression that it has launched. In Congress, we look forward to the advancement of the MEGOBARI Act to ensure accountability for this assault on the will of the people of Georgia. The United States stands with our friends, the Georgian people, to safeguard the work done by generations of Georgians for freedom and prosperity. We look forward to continuing support for Georgian democracy through mechanisms outlined in the bill and others.”

Michael McCaul, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair: “Sadly, the Georgian parliament has overridden the president’s veto on the malign Russian ‘foreign agents’ law. They have chosen to take Georgia down a dark path deeper into Russia’s orbit and away from the bright future with the West that their people deserve…As my colleagues and I wrote in a letter earlier this month, this move will require a fundamental reassessment of our relationship with Georgia. I will work closely with my congressional colleagues to determine what the nature of that relationship will be.”

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator: “Georgia’s parliament, in passing the “foreign influence” bill, risks jeopardizing the country’s democratic path, economic security, and bilateral relationship with the U.S. We stand with the Georgian people and their desire for a European future.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): The Georgian Parliament rejected President Salome Zurabishvili’s veto and passed the “foreign agents” law. RSF denounces an appalling regression in press freedom. This freedom-destroying law modeled on Russian legislation must be repealed!”

More to follow…

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

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