'This is an attack on a strategic partnership' - US Helsinki Commission on foreign agent law in Georgia
US Helsinki Commission on new law
The Helsinki Commission of the United States of America issued a statement on the controversial new law on foreign agents, saying that it is “an attack on the strategic partnership and the Western choice of the Georgian people,” and that if the bill is passed, it will hasten the rapid decline of Georgian democracy.
The Helsinki Commission calls the draft law initiated by the Power of the People movement anti-democratic, and says that since the restoration of independence, the Georgian people have clearly and consistently made a choice in favor of democracy and integration into the Euro-Atlantic space:
“However, if this anti-democratic law on foreign agents in the style of Russian lesiglation is adopted, it will be an occasion for criticism of Georgia’s accession to the European Union and NATO. It will also show that the current government of Georgia is increasingly supporting Russia, the same country that occupies 20% of Georgia, kidnaps its citizens, ignores sovereignty, and wages an aggressive war in Ukraine.”
The statement also says:
“Since 1991, the United States has been a reliable and consistent friend of the Georgian people. This will not change, regardless of the position of the government. In the spirit of this friendship, we call on the Georgian government to reject the proposed bill and prove its commitment to democracy.”
The statement was signed by commission chairman Joe Wilson, co-chair Senator Ben Cardin, commission co-chair Democrat Steve Cohen and Senator Roger Wicker.
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The Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia has confirmed a draft law according to which non-governmental and media organizations that receive foreign funding must be registered as “agents of foreign influence”.
As of 27 February, two bills have been registered in Parliament. Both were initiated by the People’s Power movement, which has become famous for its harsh anti-Western statements. The movement includes deputies who were previously members of the ruling party. Experts and many in the public view the movement as fully affiliated with the authorities.
Members of the movement openly declare that it was created in order to “tell people the truth about the West, which is trying to go to war and open a second front.”
The draft law is being criticized by everyone except the ruling party — the local NGO and media sector, the opposition, experts and politicians who were once on the side of Georgian Dream and even the President of Georgia.
The bill is heavily criticized by Georgia’s Western partners — various international organizations, US senators and European lawmakers. The US Ambassador bluntly called it “Russian law.”
US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, says that the proponents of the law will be held responsible for risking the future of the country.
On February 20, Georgian senators Jeanne Shaheen and Dick Durbin visited Georgia. Shaheen stated at a press conference on the “foreign agents” law that it was similar Russian legislation of the same type.