Heads of foreign affairs committees call on Georgia to abandon 'Russia bill'

  • 2024-04-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - In a joint statement on Friday, the heads of the foreign affairs committees of 12 European national parliaments called on the  parliament of Georgia to withdraw from proceedings the so-called Russia bill, which they say seriously undermines Georgia's hard-won European perspective.

The heads of the foreign affairs committees point out that despite the fact that the ruling Georgian Dream party in May 2023 promised "to unconditionally withdraw" the bill on "Transparency of Foreign Influences," which in effect is a carbon copy of Russia's so-called Law on Foreign Agents, the parliamentary majority leader of Georgian Dream on Wednesday announced the reintroduction of the bill.

The statement points out that the bill was originally shelved under immense pressure and overwhelming mobilization of the Georgian people, who took to protest in the streets.

The heads of the foreign affairs committees express their deep concern about the content of this bill styled after a similar law of Putin's Russia, which is designed to stigmatize and weaken Georgia's vibrant pro-European civil society and NGO sector, "while it is widely known as Georgia's greatest asset and hope and has a reputation of being one of the most transparent in the world in terms of budget and funding."

They say that the that reintroduction of the law severely undermines Georgia's hard-won European perspective and candidate status, because creating and maintaining the enabling environment for civil society organizations and media freedom is at the core of democracy and crucial for the

success of Georgia's European integration.

The authors of the statement say they see the reintroduction of the bill as a hostile move towards Georgian people's European aspirations and their future, and express their grave concern about it. They recall that Georgia was granted the EU candidate status on the understanding that it will

implement the 12 steps outlined by the European Commission, to advance towards the opening of accession negotiations and that up to now Georgia has only implemented three of those recommendations.

"We urge the ruling Georgian Dream party to withdraw it from parliamentary deliberations, as we continue to support the European aspirations of the Georgian people and expect that Georgia upholds its commitment to the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. We sincerely hope that the Georgian government will once again demonstrate its maturity and determination to integrate into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions, guided by the values of Western liberal democracy. The future of the Georgian people is at stake," the statement reads.

The statement has been signed by the chairs of the foreign affairs committees from the parliaments of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.