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White House: If 'foreign agents' bill passes, US will be compelled to 'reassess' relationship with Georgia

by Dmytro Basmat May 15, 2024 12:58 AM 2 min read
Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Oct. 26, 2023. (Anna Rose Layden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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If Tbilisi's proposed "foreign agents" bill is ultimately approved by Georgia's parliament, the U.S. would be compelled "to fundamentally reassess" its relationship with Georgia, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on May 14.

"We are deeply troubled by Georgia's Kremlin-style foreign agents legislation," Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing. "(The United States) has been outspoken about our concerns with the legislation which runs counter to democratic values and would move Georgia away from the values of the European Union and also NATO."

Georgia's parliament passed the controversial "foreign agents" bill in its third and final reading on May 14.

Georgia's pro-Western President Salome Zourabichvili previously said she would veto the bill. Although the ruling Georgian Dream likely has enough votes in parliament to override the veto, allowing it to be signed by the legislature's chairman instead.

The bill requires organizations that receive foreign funding to be labeled as "foreign agents," prompting fears that this would help the government stifle domestic opposition and civil society.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Jim O’Brien echoed comments made by the White House on May 14, stating that "there would be consequences if the law is implemented as it now stands.”

"Some of the recent speeches here (in Georgia) and the actions of the Parliament made us wonder if our strategic interests are shared by the government," O’Brien added.

The proposed law has been heavily criticized by Western allies. The European Parliament overwhelmingly supported a resolution on April 25 condemning Georgia's controversial "foreign agents" law, emphasizing that "EU accession negotiations should not be opened as long as this law is part of Georgia’s legal order."

Attempts to pass the legislations have resulted in a month of mass protest as well as accusations of violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Police have been witnessed violently attacking demonstrators with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Many protestors were also beaten by masked officers in scenes that were captured on video and widely spread on social media.

The law, backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, mirrors repressive Russian legislation used to crack down on Kremlin regime critics, earning it the nickname "Russian law" by its opponents.

Explainer: What’s behind ongoing protests in Georgia?
For the past few weeks, thousands of protesters have gathered every night in front of the Georgian parliament in opposition to the controversial foreign agents law that the ruling Georgian Dream party is attempting to pass. The final vote is set to take place on May 14. The law would

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