17 Apr 2024 18:48

Foreign agent bill will make Georgia closer to EU membership - Georgian PM

TBILISI. April 17 (Interfax) - The opponents of the bill on foreign influence transparency, which has passed the first reading in the Georgian parliament, have no arguments, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said.

"In actual fact, this bill is European as it is based on one of the most important European values, transparency and accountability. At the same time, this bill is Georgian as it protects our sovereignty," Kobakhidze told a briefing on Wednesday.

The adoption of the bill on foreign influence transparency will not bring Georgia farther from Europe, but "will bring [Georgia] qualitatively closer to the main political goal, integration in the European Union," he said.

"As to critical statements by European and U.S. politicians, no arguments against the transparency bill were given in them. We are being told the bill contradicts European values, but they are not saying anything specific as such statements cannot become a pretext for the revision of our decision to adopt the bill," Kobakhidze said. He suggested that foreign politicians and diplomats have a public discussion on the transparency bill.

He also said the only purpose of the bill is the annual declaration by non-governmental organizations of money received from abroad.

An overwhelming majority of the grants coming to Georgia are not transparent, he said. "We have spoken more than once to our Western partners about our concerns. There were promises, but there was no transparency in the work of non-governmental organizations," Kobakhidze said.

Non-governmental organizations made two attempts to carry out a revolution in Georgia in 2020 and 2022. "The goal of some of the largest NGOs was to replace the current administration, despite the people's will, which did not happen," Kobakhidze said.

NGOs are using foreign grants to conduct a real campaign against the Church and to promote the LGBT community in Georgia, he said.

"If we had adopted the law on transparency before, I am certain that NGOs would not be able to act so impudently against the interests of our independence, our state institutions," Kobakhidze said.

NGOs actively joined the campaign to open "a second front" against Russia, which would have led Georgia to an absolute collapse, in 2022, he said.

European Council President Charles Michel said on April 16 the adoption of the bill on foreign influence transparency could bring Georgia farther from EU membership, not closer to it.

Levan Khabeishvili, chairman of the United National Movement opposition party, earlier said Georgia does not need the bill and its adoption would mean a change of the country's policies from European integration to becoming closer to Russia, which a majority of the population opposes.

An opposition rally is being held near the parliament building. A protest will be held on the square in front of the parliament on Wednesday evening, like on the previous days.