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EU High Representative and European Commission Urge Government to Withdraw 'Foreign Agents' Law

By Liza Mchedlidze
Thursday, May 16, 2024
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and the European Commission have jointly issued a statement concerning Georgia's adoption of the 'Foreign Agents' law in its third reading.

In their statement, the EU reaffirmed its solidarity with the Georgian people and their commitment to democracy and a European future. The EU expressed deep concern over reports of intimidation, threats, and physical assaults targeting civil society representatives, political leaders, journalists, and their families, emphasizing that such actions are unacceptable. The EU called on the Georgian authorities to thoroughly investigate these documented incidents.

The statement referred to the European Council's decision to grant Georgia the status of a candidate country, based on Georgia fulfilling nine specific steps outlined in the Commission's recommendation of November 8, 2023. These steps include protecting human rights, ensuring civil society and media operate freely, promoting depolarization, and combating disinformation.

The EU reiterated its position that the spirit and content of this law do not align with EU norms and values. It was emphasized that this law would undermine the vital work of civil society and independent media, posing a threat to fundamental rights such as freedom of association and expression that are central to Georgia's commitments under the Association Agreement and any potential EU accession path.

The adoption of this law was viewed by the EU as a setback for Georgia's progress towards EU integration. The statement urged the Georgian authorities to reconsider and withdraw the law, recommitting to the EU path and advancing the necessary reforms outlined in the nine steps.

The EU affirmed its readiness to continue supporting the Georgian people in their efforts toward a European future.

"The EU stands with the Georgian people and their choice in favour of democracy and of Georgia's European future. The intimidation, threats and physical assaults on civil society representatives, political leaders and journalists, as well as their families is unacceptable. We call on the Georgian authorities to investigate these documented acts.

The European Council granted Georgia the status of a candidate country on the understanding that the relevant 9 steps set out in the Commission recommendation of 8 November 2023 are taken. These steps require human rights to be protected and civil society as well as the media to be able to operate freely. They also refer to the need for depolarisation and the fight against disinformation.

Nevertheless, and despite large protests and unequivocal calls by the international community, the Georgian government ruling majority adopted the law "on transparency of foreign influence" in Parliament in third reading. The EU has clearly and repeatedly stated that the spirit and content of the law are not in line with EU core norms and values. It will undermine the work of civil society and independent media while freedom of association and freedom of expression are fundamental rights at the core of Georgia's commitments as part of the Association Agreement and of any EU accession path.

The adoption of this law negatively impacts Georgia's progress on the EU path. The choice on the way forward is in Georgia's hands. We urge the Georgian authorities to withdraw the law, uphold their commitment to the EU path and advance the necessary reforms detailed in the 9 steps.

The EU stands ready to continue supporting Georgians working towards a European future," the statement reads.