European Union urged Georgia on Wednesday, May 15, to withdraw its draft “foreign agents” law as protests rage in the streets. EPA-EFE/DAVID MDZINARISHVILI


EU presses Georgia to withdraw law on ‘foreign agents’


The European Union has urged Georgia to withdraw its “foreign agents” law.

The appeal came as demonstrations continued across the country with protestors fearing the legislation would undermine Tbilisi’s hopes to join the bloc.

On May 14, Georgia approved the third and final part of the bill relating to all NGOs and independent media operating there. Under the legislation those that receive more than 20 per cent of their funding from foreign donors will have to register as organisations “bearing the interests of a foreign power”.

On May 15, Brussels argued that the law would only delay the country’s bid to join the EU.

“The adoption of this law negatively impacts Georgia’s progress on the path towards the EU,” said Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, in a joint statement with the European Commission.

“The choice on how to move forward is in Georgia’s hands. We urge the Georgian authorities to withdraw the law,” he added.

The legislation is intended to ensure the transparency of NGOs that receive foreign funding in Georgia.

While Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili vowed to veto the bill, the Georgian Parliament can override that.

The EC stated in the communiqué that implementation of the law would “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” to the EU.

EU leaders had agreed in December to grant Georgia membership candidate status.