The Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, MEP Marina Kaljurand, and the European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia, MEP Sven Mikser, released a joint statement on the adoption in the first reading of the law on ‘foreign agents’ by the Parliament of Georgia.
The MEPs stated that by adopting the bill “our Georgian colleagues ignored unanimous criticism expressed by Georgia’s civil society and western partners.”
“We are deeply concerned by this move, which goes directly against the Georgian authorities’ declared ambition to receive candidate status for EU membership. Under the new law, individuals, civil society organizations, and media outlets would be obliged to register as ‘foreign agents’ with the Ministry of Justice if they receive more than 20% of their funds from abroad. It makes little doubt that the new law’s purpose, under the guise of promoting transparency, is to stigmatise and restrict the work of civil society organisations and media, which already work under strained conditions,” reads the statement.
According to the MEPs, “the new law seems to be inspired by the nefarious Russian law on foreign agents passed in 2012, which has led to suppressing civil society and critical public opinion in Russia.”
They went on to say that “it is blatantly inconsistent with the priorities identified by the European Commission – more specifically, priority 7 on media freedom and priority 10 on civil society, which the Georgian authorities need to tackle urgently if they genuinely wish their country to be granted EU candidate status.”
“It might as well be unconstitutional, as the President of Georgia rightly underlined it, considering that it jeopardises Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration path, which has been enshrined in the Constitution since 2017. We call on the Georgian authorities to uphold their commitment to address the twelve priorities identified in the European Commission’s opinion of 17 June 2022 on Georgia’s application for membership of the European Union, and to uphold the Georgian people’s constitutional right to protest peacefully. Therefore, I also call on the Parliament of Georgia to reject this draft law.” the statement concluded.