US labels Foreign Agents bill setback to Georgia's aspirations, US ability to be Georgians' partners
“We see a draft piece of legislation that would be a tremendous setback. This would be a setback to the aspirations of the people of Georgia; it would be a setback to the ability of the United States to continue to be a partner for the people of Georgia,” Ned Price, US Department spokesperson stated at the briefing.
Ned Price commented on the People’s Power-tabled bill on the Transparency of Foreign Influence that the Parliament of Georgia adopted on March 7th in its first reading.
According to the spokesperson, “anyone who is voting for this draft legislation would be responsible in part for jeopardizing those very Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people.
“You asked about the feeling here. The feeling here is one of deep concern. You have heard us express that sentiment consistently in recent days. It is a feeling of deep concern because of the potential implications of this draft law. This draft law would strike at some of the very rights that are central to the aspirations of the people of Georgia for a consolidated democracy, for Euro-Atlantic integration, and for a brighter future. It would stigmatize and silence independent voices and citizens of Georgia who wish to do nothing more than work together to build a brighter future, a future that is integrated with Europe, a future that is democratic and free, where Georgia is an independent and sovereign country,” Ned Price has said.
The spokesperson went on to say that the US was “deeply concerned and troubled, of course, for what this could mean for the people of Georgia.”
“We are so deeply concerned and troubled, of course, for what this could mean for the people of Georgia, but also because the United States has been a partner to Georgia over the course of recent decades. Ever since Georgia declared its independence, the United States has been right there with it supporting the aspirations of the Georgian people. And at the earliest days of Georgia’s independence, those aspirations were nascent. They were nothing more than an idea in some cases.
Over the course of ensuing decades, the people of Georgia have worked to realize those aspirations. They have made tremendous progress in becoming the democracy that they sought from those earliest days, in integrating Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic community and ensuring that Georgia stays on that path.
Now, however, we see a draft piece of legislation that would be a tremendous setback. This would be a setback to the aspirations of the people of Georgia; it would be a setback to the ability of the United States to continue to be a partner for the people of Georgia. I made this point yesterday, I think it was, but anyone who is voting for this draft legislation would be responsible in part for jeopardizing those very Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people. We don’t wish to see that happen. Beyond the United States, it is the EU, the UN, of course most importantly the Georgian people, Georgian civil society groups – all of them have issued strong statements of concern about this draft legislation,” Ned Price stated.
The State Department spokesperson also stated that “the best counterexample is the United States partnership with Georgia,” as the United States are concerned, that partnership could be – at least in part – jeopardized should a law like this move forward.
“The best example is the counterexample. It is an example of the type of partnership that the United States Government can have with people and countries that aspire to continue down that path of democracy, of democratic reform, of integration with Europe and the broader Euro-Atlantic region. I think the best counterexample is the United States partnership with Georgia, if you want to look at what that partnership can look like, what that partnership can feel like, and how, as we are concerned, that partnership could be – at least in part – jeopardized should a law like this move forward.
Ultimately, these are going to be the decisions of the Georgian people and the Georgian Government. It is our strong hope that the Georgian Government listens to the Georgian people. The Georgian people are speaking with a clear voice. Right now, we’re seeing some of those clear voices, those loud voices drowned out by tear gas, by efforts to suppress those – that peaceful exercise of freedom of assembly. That’s of concern to us. But ultimately, we think it’s important that governments around the world, including, of course, the government in Tbilisi, listens to its people,” Price stated.
Alluding to a question whether “there is anything that prevents the United States Government from sanctioning Mr. Ivanishvili, “who is obviously bringing up this sort of legislations,” Ned Price stated: “I don’t speak to specific individuals or entities who may be subject to U.S. or other sanctions, but we have a number of tools within our purview that would allow us to hold accountable anyone in any country around the world who is responsible for the suppression of what would otherwise be a universal human right. There are authorities that are written into various laws, into executive orders that we will look at closely in this context, as we do in any context, to hold to account those who may run afoul of what the Georgian people want and, most importantly, what the Georgian people expect and deserve in terms of their universal rights.”