RIGA - The first reading of the law on foreign agents passed by the Georgian parliament raises serious questions about the prospects of democracy in Georgia, the Baltic foreign ministers said in a joint statement Wednesday.
The Baltic foreign ministers called on Georgian lawmakers to responsibly assess the real interests of the country and refrain from decisions that may undermine aspirations of Georgia’s people to live in a democratic country which is advancing towards the EU and NATO.
The foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia urged the Georgian government to respect the right of people to a peaceful protest.
According to media reports, Georgian authorities have used tear has and water cannons to disperse the crowd protesting outside the parliament building in Tbilisi against the the adoption of the law on "foreign agents", seen by many as representing an authoritarian shift.
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili said she was on the side of the protesters and promised to veto the bill.
The disputed law, backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, would require any organizations receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from overseas to register as "foreign agents", or face substantial fines.