Georgia’s ‘foreign influence’ law incompatible with EU values and standards, says Borrell
Josep Borell (Photo:www.flickr.com/Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperació)
The “transparency of foreign influence” law passed by Georgia’s parliament on March 7 is incompatible with EU standards and values, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell said on March 8.
The passing of the bill at first reading provoked demonstrations in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on the evening of March 7, with protestors clashing with riot police near the parliament building. There were 66 arrests, and police used tear gas and water cannons on the crowds.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili expressed her support for the demonstrators.
Borell called the new law “a very bad development for Georgia and its people.”
He said the law in its current form risks having a chilling effect on civil society and media organizations, with negative consequences for the many Georgians who benefit from these organizations’ work.
“This law is incompatible with EU values and standards,” Borell went on. “It goes against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgian citizens. Its final adoption may have serious repercussions on our relations.”
Borrell also called on Georgia to uphold its commitment to the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and the right for people to peacefully protest.
A copycat of a Russian law, the Georgian parliament passed the “transparency of foreign influence” law at first reading on March 7.
The law requires any organization that receives more than 20 percent of its funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents” under threat of fines. The bill is supported by the Georgian Dream party.
President Zurabishvili said she would veto the bill, but the parliamentary majority maintains sufficient votes to override a presidential veto.
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