• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


May 28, 2024, 2:52pm EDT
Europe
icon

Semafor Signals

Georgian parliament pushes ‘foreign agent’ law through in blow to EU ambitions

Insights from The Guardian, Reuters, Eurasianet, Civil Georgia, and the Atlantic Council

Arrow Down
Georgians gathered in protest.
Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

Georgia’s parliament approved a controversial foreign influence bill on Tuesday, overriding a presidential veto. Critics believe the law will be used to crackdown on dissent and stifle civil society.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the street to protest what the opposition called the “Russian law” for its similarity to legislation passed by the Kremlin that has been used to harass journalists and civil rights groups.

AD

European officials warned the law will jeopardize Georgia’s ambition to join the European Union as the law is incompatible with its values.The US State Department and a number of senators also warned that Georgian lawmakers responsible for pushing the bill through could face sanctions.

icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Georgians overwhelmingly support joining the EU

Source icon
Sources:  
National Democratic Institute, The Guardian, Strategic Europe

The foreign influence law has effectively put Georgia’s EU accession efforts on ice, despite being a key priority since independence in 1991. Georgia is staunchly pro-EU, with almost 80% of the country’s population supportive of membership, and EU accession is also enshrined in the country’s constitution. Pro-EU sentiment is especially strong among Georgia’s youth, who see embracing Europe as a means to transform the country. “Unlike previous demonstrations, the current protests are distinguished by the prominent participation of the Zoomers generation, or Gen Z,” an expert wrote for Carnegie’s Strategic Europe.

Even dog shelters fear being stamped as ‘foreign agents’

Source icon
Source:  
Reuters

The law will require all media and non-governmental organizations to register as foreign agents if more than 20% of their budget comes from abroad. Even non-political NGOs that offer support for drug addicts and other services the state does not provide worry that the law will put their work at risk. The head of an animal shelter told Reuters she feared her organization would have to register as a foreign agent, potentially cutting off funding and incurring extensive administrative fees. “The only interest that we pursue is the interest of these dogs, and I challenge anyone to tell me which one of them is actually a foreign power,” she said.

Opposition tries to unite ahead of elections to repeal ‘foreign agents’ law

Source icon
Sources:  
Civil Georgia, Eurasianet, Open Caucasus Media, Atlantic Council, Eurasia Daily Monitor

President Salome Zurabishvili unveiled a roadmap for returning the country to a pro-European path, and to galvanize the opposition against the “foreign agent” law on Sunday. Georgia’s opposition parties share a strong antipathy to the law, but have so far failed to present a united front, Eurasianet reported. So far, several smaller opposition parties have agreed to sign Zurabishvili’s charter, although tensions remain. As Georgia heads toward parliamentary elections in October, Georgia’s president said she would aim to repeal the legislation if the opposition wins a majority. Even so, concerns persist that Georgian Dream or the Kremlin itself could spread misinformation that undermines any emerging coalition or directly intervene in the elections.

Semafor Logo
AD