Georgia's president and prime minister trade barbs over vetoed 'Russian law'

Georgia's president and prime minister trade barbs over vetoed 'Russian law'
Georgia's president and prime minister trade barbs over vetoed 'Russian law'

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Georgia's president and prime minister trade barbs over vetoed 'Russian law' in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - TBLISI — Georgia's president and prime minister have exchanged criticisms over a vetoed foreign influence law as the country marked Independence Day.

This year's celebration, which commemorates Georgia's declaration of independence from the Russian Empire, comes as tensions mount over the divisive legislation that critics view as a threat to the country's democratic freedoms and Western aspirations.

"Today, as the spectre of Russia looms over us, partnership and rapprochement with Europe are the true path to preserving and strengthening our independence and peace," said President Salome Zourabichvili.

"Those who sabotage and undermine this path trample upon and damage the peaceful and secure future of our country, hindering the path towards becoming a full member of the free and democratic world."

But Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze hit back, saying his government was guarding the "sovereignty and independence of Georgia."

"It was the unity and reasonable steps of the people and their elected government that gave us the opportunity to maintain peace in the country for the past two years despite existential threats and multiple betrayals, including the betrayal of the President of Georgia," he said.

The legislation, passed by the parliament earlier this month, requires media, nongovernmental organizations and other non-profits to register as 'pursuing the interests of a foreign power' if they receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad.

It's been deeply unpopular among Georgians, who have dubbed it the "Russian law" because of similar legislation enacted by Moscow in 2022, which critics saw as a means to stifle criticism of the Kremlin.

Protesters also feel the bill is antidemocratic and could derail Georgia's chances of joining the EU. Georgia has been an official candidate country since last year, and support for membership is very high among Georgians.

The bill has been met with criticism from outside Georgia, too. The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's top constitutional law body, said Tbilisi should scrap it.

The US State Department threatened Georgia with sanctions if it went ahead with the legislation and said Washington may have to rethink its relationship with Tbilisi.

US lawmakers also introduced two similar bills that seek to persuade the Georgian government to ditch the "Russian law". The proposed acts offer visa liberalization and opportunities to deepen US-Georgia relations in various sectors but sanction those responsible for Georgia's possible democratic backslide.

And the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the law "negatively impacts Georgia's progress on the EU path".

However, the ruling Georgian Dream party, which proposed and shelved almost identical legislation last year, says the law is necessary to maintain a national identity and promote transparency.

Last week, Georgia's president followed through on her promise and vetoed the bill, calling it "unacceptable".

Zourabichvili, who was increasingly at odds with Georgia's ruling party, said that the law contradicted the constitution and "all European standards".

But the Georgian Dream party has a majority sufficient to override Zourabichvili's veto and is widely expected to do so. — Euronews

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