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FT: EU to freeze Georgia’s accession bid if it enacts Russian-style “foreign agents” bill

EU officials warn that Georgia’s accession efforts could be halted if it adopts a “foreign agents” law similar to Russia’s, despite ongoing protests and the potential for reversing the decision, FT’s EU sources say.
ft eu freeze georgias accession bid enacts russianstyle foreign agents bill rally georgia front parliaments building 15 may 2024 protesting kiur kaasikdelfi georgiaprotestsmaidan
Rally in Georgia in front of the Parliament’s building on 15 May 2024 protesting the “foreign agents” bill. Photo: Kiur Kaasik/Delfi
FT: EU to freeze Georgia’s accession bid if it enacts Russian-style “foreign agents” bill

The Financial Times’ sources among EU officials say the EU will freeze Georgia’s accession bid if Tbilisi passes a controversial “foreign agents” law, inspired by Russian legislation, although reversal remains possible.

A “transparency of foreign influence” bill passed by the ruling Georgian Dream party is reminiscent of the Russian foreign agent law, which mandates that anyone receiving support from outside Russia or under foreign influence must register as foreign agents.

Despite months of mass protests and repeated warnings from the EU, Georgian lawmakers adopted the bill on 14 May requiring media and civil groups receiving foreign funding to register with the government.

Protests, brawls as Georgia adopts Russian-style “foreign agents” law

Three EU officials told the Financial Times that a decision by the bloc to start Georgia’s accession talks is likely to be indefinitely postponed if the law is enacted, while a person briefed on recent discussions between Georgian and EU officials described the law as “a showstopper,” noting that the Georgian government is well aware of the implications.

A final vote by the ruling majority is anticipated in the coming weeks after the country’s president, Salome Zourabichvili, as promised, refuses to sign off on the bill and returns it to parliament.

Georgia applied for EU membership in March 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In December 2023, the European Commission recommended accession talks for Ukraine and Moldova but only granted Georgia candidate status, conditional on it undertaking reforms ranging from fighting disinformation to improving human rights protections.

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