EU threatens Georgia over ‘foreign agent’ law

Tbilisi's foreign agent registration law is an attack on “essential entities of democracy,” said a senior MEP

EU threatens Georgia over ‘foreign agent’ law

EU threatens Georgia over ‘foreign agent’ law

Senior MEP says Tbilisi’s legislative move endangers its “European course”

Georgia risks “significant withdrawal of EU support” if it proceeds with the law on registering foreign agents, Romanian MEP Siegfried Muresan said on Wednesday. The vice-president of the European People's Party bloc in the European Parliament told Romania’s Digi 24 outlet that requiring NGOs to disclose foreign funding was an attack on democracy.

“We see intimidation of civil society,” Muresan told the outlet. Requiring organizations dealing with press freedom, human rights and helping Ukrainian refugees to register as foreign agents if 20% or more of their funding comes from abroad is “intimidation of essential entities for democracy, it is not at all consistent with European standards,” he added.

“What the Georgian authorities are doing endangers the country’s European course,” insisted Muresan, accusing Tbilisi of having “fallen behind Moldova and Ukraine” in implementing EU reforms.

“Russian-like” and organized mass protests outside the parliament two days in a row. Some of the demonstrators carried EU, US and Ukrainian flags. Others wore gas masks and helmets, attempted to storm the legislature, and threw Molotov cocktails at police.

The ruling party in Tbilisi says the law is intended to protect the country’s sovereignty from “extremist organizations” funded from abroad. Georgian Dream party leader Irakli Kobakhidze accused the opposition of wanting to restore the 2003-2012 ‘Rose Revolution’ regime, which he said looted the country and lost 20% of its territory.

“dark day for democracy.” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also described the proposal as contrary to EU values.

“risks a significant withdrawal of EU support” unless it backs down, because Brussels cannot support  “undemocratic tendencies.”

“Obviously the EU expectation is that people can express themselves freely and any attempt to intimidate those who take to the streets will not be accepted,” he said.