When asked whether the draft law on so-called Foreign Agents could become an obstacle on the way to the European Union, the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Pawel Herczynski, said that this draft law is incompatible with European norms and values. He added that if it is adopted, it will be very difficult for the European Commission to make a positive assessment.

The diplomat noted that "only 24 hours after" Georgian Dream resubmitted the draft law, the spokesperson of the EU High Representative, Joseph Borrell, issued a very clear statement.

“We are seriously concerned. Legitimate concerns about transparency should not be an excuse to limit the space and to stigmatize civil society organizations. Freedom of speech, and freedom of media are absolutely essential for every democracy. This includes Georgia, especially as a candidate country for EU membership.

Simply this law is not okay. And this is not a European law, and this is not American law, as you have heard loud and clear from the US ambassador yesterday. I understand that there are concerns about transparency. I also understand that there are other ways to ensure transparency and we are all in favor of transparency. But this should not be done at the expense of limiting the possibility of very good, very important and essential work that civil society organizations are doing to the benefit of the Georgian population,” the EU ambassador said.

Pawel Herczynski noted that there should still be a discussion on the draft law, which could last several weeks or months. He expressed hope that a way would be found to ensure transparency without marginalizing, sidelining, and stigmatizing civil society organizations.

The United States Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, also commented on the bill yesterday. She said it is very different from the US Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

Georgian Dream has reintroduced the draft law on so-called foreign agents, which it had rejected a year ago, in response to a large-scale public protest. The party has promised to recall it "unconditionally, without any reservations" from the parliament. The text of the draft law remains the same, with only the term "agent of foreign influence" being replaced by "organization carrying out the interests of a foreign power."

The executive secretary of Georgian Dream, Mamuka Mdinaradze, has called the comparison of the draft law initiated by him with the law on "foreign agents" in force in Russia "the scandal of the century" and "an unbelievable fraud." Mdinaradze and his teammates claim that similar laws are in force in the USA and European countries, and "if big countries have similar laws," Georgia has the right to adopt it as well.

The ruling party intends to pass a law similar to the Russian one before the end of the spring session, even though it may harm Georgia's European integration process

Georgian News
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