EP Debate on Transparency Bill and Georgian Politicians' Reactions
EP Debate on Transparency Bill and Georgian Politicians' Reactions

Several political groups in the European Parliament [EP], the PPE Group, the S&D Group, the Renew Group, the Verts/ALE Group, and the ECR Group, have prepared a joint motion for a resolution “on attempts to reintroduce a foreign agent law in Georgia and its restrictions on civil society,” following a debate on this very matter on Tuesday.

In the motion, MEPs “strongly” condemned the re-introduction of the draft law on “transparency of foreign influence” which would impose “debilitating restrictions on civil society and independent media and thereby undermine the possibility of their operating freely, and has therefore been met with massive protests by the Georgian public, civil society organisations, independent media, prominent public figures and the country’s European and international partners alike.”

During the debate, the European Parliament members urged the European Council to impose sanctions on Bidzina Ivanishvili [the Georgian Dream party founder] and release Mikheil Saakashvili [Georgia’s jailed ex-president].

Expressing concerns over the draft law, MEP Michael Gahler said, “The only foreign agents that are involved in this are those in the ruling party who copy Russian laws and are promoting the way Russia rules at home.”

“We are fully solidaric with those protesters with Georgian and European flags. Demand the release of Misha Saakashvili and also see to it that we can get hold of Mr. Ivanishvili and sanction him because he is the one in the background who is guiding the agenda there,” MEP Gahler declared.

MEP Miriam Lexmann believes the proposed law “will undermine the work of civil society and independent media.”

 “Should this law be adopted against the aspirations of Georgia’s people and in violation of the Commission’s recommendation, our response should be clear. First, we must freeze the opening of any accession negotiations with Georgia. Second, any future financial assistance to Georgia must be made conditional on scrapping this damaging law,” Lexmann stated.

The foreign agent’s law seems “flawed” for MEP Mick Wallace, but “if it’s enacted, it’d be a result of antidemocratic, EU, and US meddling in Georgia. You have pushed too hard for too long.”

“Through NGOs, the EU and the US used our wealth to set up parallel publics in non-EU countries like Georgia. These influential, yet unelected NGO representatives have access to resources and politicians in Brussels and Washington to hold sway in institutions, effectively spread propaganda, and police to terms of the beat to steer up protest and destabilization to forward the strategic aims of the foreign paymasters,” MEP Wallace stated.

Georgian politicians lambasted the MEPs’ remarks. According to the Parliament Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, among them were MEPs “who are involved in the secret financing of political parties and radical groups in Georgia.”

“The European Endowment for Democracy (EED), which is run by the MEPs, spends shadow money in Georgia,” the Speaker asserted.

In majority deputy Irakli Zarkua’s words, “we anew heard how some European parliamentarians, lobbyists of the party of torturers – United National Movement – are trying to make the European Parliament lose the value that the European Union has.”

“There is a reasonable suspicion that they received a new message yesterday, it was probably written and everyone was reading it,” Zarkua noted.

The European Parliament will vote for the draft resolution at tomorrow’s session.