US Ambassador: Transparency of Foreign Influence bill to derail Georgia from its European path
US Ambassador: Transparency of Foreign Influence bill to derail Georgia from its European path

“The United States has both publicly and privately with Georgian government officials expressed our serious concern about this draft legislation. We’re concerned that the legislation will derail Georgia from its European path,” said the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan remarking on Transparency of Foreign Influence bill re-submitted by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.

According to the Ambassador, the draft bill is is not “just a concern from the United States.”

“We’re also concerned that it will negatively impact the ability of local civil society organizations to do the important work that they do to help Georgian people every day. This isn’t just a concern from the United States. The European Union, NATO, the European Council, the European Parliament, many, many individual countries within Europe and parliaments, and the United Nations have all also expressed serious concern about this legislation. And they’ve expressed concern that this legislation will negatively impact Georgia’s path to become a member of the EU.

I want to talk for a minute about the important work we do through our assistance. The United States has worked hand in hand, in partnership and in friendship with Georgian governments and Georgian civil society organizations for more than 30 years to implement $6 billion worth of assistance here. So, what does that mean? What does that friendship and assistance look like? What friends do is friends support friends to grow stronger. And that’s what we have done. Our assistance, for example, has strengthened the Georgian defence forces, and strengthened and equipped the Georgian coast guard, so Georgia can defend its sovereign territory and also deter further aggression. Our assistance has built hospitals and schools. We’ve trained doctors, teachers and emergency workers. Our assistant has built independent living centres across the country to help people with disabilities, help them live on their own and help their families. Our assistance history has given small farmers loans and small business owners loans. We’ve trained young Georgians with vocational skills. We’ve done things like open this American centre, where we provide free training in English language skills, where we provide books. We’ve given thousands of Georgians, the opportunity to study and do programs in the United States. This is what friends do. Friends help strengthen countries and their ability to thrive, to become more economically prosperous. And to defend themselves.

And I’m very, very proud of the assistance the United States has provided to Georgia, and of the NGOs and CSOs, who have implemented that assistance. So, you have to ask yourself if you have draft legislation and if your Western partners and friends, all have said they have serious concerns with that legislation. But your occupiers have welcomed it. You have to ask whether it’s a good thing for your country. I want to reiterate that this is not similar. The way this legislation is drafted, it is not similar to the law in the United States. The United States welcomes the role of our civil society organizations and how they help our country. Our law specifically requires organizations and individuals who lobby, who are paid to lobby on behalf of foreign governments for foreign governments’ interests, it requires them to register. It’s a very different law. So, with that again, I want to say that the United States stands hand in hand with the people and government of Georgia in supporting Georgia’s European path,” she said.