US threatens Georgia with sanctions over “foreign agents” bill

  • 16 May, 07:48

The US might impose sanctions on Georgia if the controversial “foreign agents” bill that has sparked mass protests in the country is adopted, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien said. He made the remarks on Wednesday during the meeting with the prime minister of Georgia, the minister of Foreign Affairs, the president, the speaker of Parliament, the opposition, and civil society.

O’Brien stated that financial restrictions will be imposed against the government if the level of democracy in the country declines and violence is used against peaceful demonstrators protesting against the bill. These restrictions include travel restrictions on individuals and their family members who are responsible for destructive actions, the US diplomat said.

Stressing that the bill “On Transparency of Foreign Influence,” approved by the Georgian parliament on May 14 did not comply with the EU standards, the US diplomat said that the relationship between Georgia and the US will be at risk if the current rhetoric towards the United States and other partners persist.

“Georgia’s desire is to move towards the European Union and NATO. And in these communities, there are certain rules and standards. This law must comply with these rules and standards,” O’Brien said, noting that he hoped to see such a discussion of this issue that would meet EU requirements.

Commenting on the ongoing thousand-strong protest rallies against the “foreign agents” bill, O’Brien said these protests should be peaceful, and those who intimidate peaceful demonstrators should be held accountable.

The new bill passed by the Parliament on Tuesday requires any organization receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence” or face large fines.

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