Why Georgian government moving towards abandoning country's European course?

Friday, 19 April 2024 —

On 17 April, the Georgian Parliament approved in the first reading the law "On transparency of foreign influence," also known as the draft law on "foreign agents."

A year ago, the ruling party Georgian Dream attempted to pass this law in the first reading but yielded to pressure from the West and society.

Over the past year though, Georgian Dream has learned from its mistakes and now seeks to push forward with this initiative, albeit with a slightly modified name.

Read more about the current confrontation in the article by Yurii Panchenko, a European Pravda's editor – Breaking ties EU: Why is the Georgian government killing its European future?


What is this draft law really about?

It proposes to introduce mandatory registration for organisations implementing the interests of a "foreign power," as well as non-profit legal entities and media outlets whose source of more than 20% of their total profit during a calendar year is from abroad.

It means that almost all NGOs and the vast majority of independent media fall under this law.

These organisations will be required to submit financial declarations annually. Refusal of registration or failure to submit a financial declaration will result in fines.

The Georgian government points out that its proposed draft law does not contain significant restrictions, only the requirement to submit declarations. But this is Russia's path, where the first version of the foreign agents law was quite "vegetarian," but became the basis for further tightening of control.

That is why society met the first attempt to adopt the "foreign agents" law in Georgia met with fierce resistance. A year ago, the Georgian government was forced to step back. Society was almost a key reason for the EU to agree to grant Georgia candidacy.

European politicians have repeatedly warned that Georgia is jeopardising its course towards European integration. But the Georgian government has ignored all these warnings.

The question arises: why is the Georgian government engaging in such blatant conflict with the EU?

The most common explanation is that the law, which allows for the control of the civil sector and independent media, is needed to ensure victory in the parliamentary elections on 26 October.

Furthermore, it is even speculated that after the elections, the ruling party Georgian Dream will offer the EU to repeal this law for recognising the elections as credible and legitimate.

In turn, as European Pravda's sources in diplomatic circles claim, the EU will find it very difficult to give an adequate response to such a law.

Currently, it is most like that the EU will impose personal sanctions on Georgian officials, primarily on the Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili.

It looks like the Georgian government is already preparing for that. There are grounds to believe that preparations are underway to transfer Ivanishvili's assets to more reliable jurisdictions, primarily to Brazil, and to return them to Georgia.

Meanwhile, protests in the country are gaining momentum. Almost all public opinion leaders are flatly against this law and advocate for maintaining the course towards EU membership.

Lately, most Russian satellites have been adopting laws similar to the Russian law on foreign agents. And the fact that Georgia has ended up on this list is very vivid.

It seems that the reversal of Georgia's foreign policy towards pro-Russian is entering its final stage...

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