White House urges Georgian PMs: Do not override veto on ‘Foreign Agents’ bill

Demonstrators hold a rally to protest against bill on “foreign agents” in Tbilisi, Georgia, May 12
Demonstrators hold a rally to protest against bill on “foreign agents” in Tbilisi, Georgia, May 12

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson called on members of Georgia's parliament to “show courage” and not to override the veto on bill on transparency of foreign influence, which was imposed by President Salome Zourabichvili, Adrienne Watson wrote on X on May 18.

Read also: Tens of thousands march in Tbilisi against Georgia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ bill – Reuters

“We are pleased to see that President Zourabichvili is standing up for Georgia's Euro-Atlantic future by vetoing the law on foreign agents (the so-called “foreign agent” law or “Russian law”)," she wrote.

"We urge members of parliament to show the same courage and not override her veto."

Protesting the 'Foreign Agents' bill in Georgia

Mass protests swept through Georgia on April 9 after the ruling Georgian Dream party announced its intention to reintroduce the 'Foreign Agents', or 'Russian law', bill that was abandoned in 2023 following mass protests.

Security forces moved to disperse demonstrators in Tbilisi on April 16.

The Georgian legislature approved the bill in its first reading on April 17.

Read also: ‘Will never be tolerated’ – Georgians will not allow a pro-Russian government – Georgian President

The measure mandates the registration of non-profit entities and media receiving over 20% of their income from abroad as ‘organizations acting in the interests of a foreign state.’

The bill requires three votes for passage in the Georgian parliament to become law.”

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has promised to veto the document.

The 'Foreign Agents' bill is aimed to safeguard the country from "Ukrainization", said Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on April 18.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, in response, said that the real threat to Georgia is Russification, not "mystical Ukrainization", warning that using Ukraine derogatorily harms Ukrainian-Georgian relations.

Read also: EU examines Georgian 'Russian Law' impact on integration

European Parliament MPs voiced concerns that adopting the 'Foreign Agents' bill could jeopardize the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration efforts.

The European Parliament passed a resolution on April 25 regarding Georgia’s 'Foreign Agents' bill that casts doubt on the country’s EU accession talks while the law is active.

Clashes erupted between police and protesters near the Georgian parliament on April 30.

President Zourabichvili urged an end to the protest dispersal in Tbilisi and held the government responsible for the unrest.

The Interior Ministry announced that police had arrested 60 demonstrators on May 1, charging them with hooliganism and disobeying lawful police orders.

Six police officers sustained injuries during the clashes.

Later that day, the Georgian parliament approved the “Foreign Agents” bill in its second reading.

Georgian parliament passed the draft law on “foreign agents” in the final third reading on May 14. 84 MPs voted in favor of bill, while 30 opposition members voted against it. Also on that day, security forces began to disperse protesters who had gathered near the parliament building.

Financial Times on May 16 wrote that European Union may freeze Georgia's accession application if the law on “foreign agents” comes into force. NATO has also warned the Georgian government that the law is incompatible with the country's membership in NATO and the EU.

Salome Zourabichvili vetoed the law on transparency of foreign influence on May 18.

According to her, the law contradicts country's constitution and European standards and “thus represents an obstacle on our European path.”

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine