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Baltic, Nordic countries urge Georgia to reconsider foreign Influence law

Nations warn Georgian leaders chose 'concerning trajectory' disrupting Georgia's European future

07:06 - 14/05/2024 Tuesday
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File photo
File photo

Nordic and Baltic countries have called on Georgia's leaders to drop a draft law on Transparency of Foreign Influence, which has led to huge protests in the capital Tbilisi for nearly a month after the ruling Georgian Dream party reintroduced the bill, according to a statement.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland issued the joint statement last week, in which they said they back Georgia's path to European Union accession.

The statement said Georgian authorities have chosen "a concerning trajectory" disrupting Georgia's European future.

"The claims by Georgian authorities that the proposal resembles EU draft legislation are unfounded and misleading. We urge Georgia's political leaders to reconsider adoption of the draft law," the statement said.

Despite huge protests, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has vowed to pass the legislation which would target civil society organization and independent media that receive foreign funding, Estonia's public broadcaster ERR reported.

"If adopted, the law could be used to silence media and civil society organizations that play a vital role in helping Georgia on its way to EU membership,” Nordic and Baltic leaders said.

The nations' ministries expressed their "strong wish to see Georgia succeed" on its European and Euro-Atlantic path while asking the Georgian Government to "revert to the course towards" EU membership.

Kobakhidze emphasized the government's commitment to transparent governance, inviting foreign-funded organizations operating in the country to conduct activities openly and transparently.

The prime minister also underlined the importance of the bill for the country's security while accusing some NGOs of causing tension and instability in the Black Sea Caucasus country.

Opposition leaders have labelled the legislation a "Russian law," arguing the bill resembled Moscow's legislation passed in 2012.

While chanting slogans against the bill, tens of thousands of Georgians from various regions of the country took to the streets of the capital Tbilisi on Saturday evening to protest a controversial "foreign influence" bill backed by the government.

In May, security forces intervened with tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators who attempted to surround the parliament building and set up barricades in front of it.

Initially, the legislation was first introduced in March 2023, but was shelved after it triggered mass protests resulting in the arrest of 66 people and injury to more than 50 law enforcement officers.

#"foreign influence" bill
#Georgia
#Nordic Baltic countries
5 days ago