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“Russian law” adopted in Georgia: Europeans alongside the streets

Brussels.

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“Russian law” adopted in Georgia: Europeans alongside the streets

Brussels

Is Georgia's European future already compromised? The explosive situation in the small Caucasian country worries the European executive, while tensions have continued to rise for several weeks. Barely hours before the vote on the law on “foreign influence”, late Tuesday morning, an altercation broke out in the Hemicycle, physically opposing the deputies hostile to the text and those members of Georgian Dream, the ruling party. Despite multiple international condemnations and pressure from the streets, the law was adopted early in the afternoon, with a large majority.

In Brussels, this result was expected. Since the start of the demonstrations, the European Commission has assured that it is “monitoring events very closely”. On Monday during the day, twelve member countries, including France, sent a letter to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, and to the Commissioner responsible for enlargement, Olivér Varhelyi, to demand a “strong reaction » from the Union. “Concrete consequences must be considered in the event that the law is adopted,” they write, recalling the incompatibility of the text with the “fundamental values ​​and principles” of the EU. A unanimous declaration had been considered the previous week, before being torpedoed by the refusal of Hungary and Slovakia, reluctant to comment on the question of Russian influence.

Also read “Foreign influence” in Georgia: parliament adopts controversial bill

The same day, four MEPs, members of the EPP, the Social Democrats, Renew Europe and the Greens, also expressed their concerns in a letter also addressed to the High Representative of the Union. They call for an end to any discussions relating to the inclusion of Georgia within the EU "as long as this law is in effect", and demand the establishment of sanctions against the Georgian Prime Minister and the President of Parliament, as well as to Bidzina Ivanishvili. Oligarch, millionaire, president of the Georgian Dream party, the businessman is known to be close to Russian power and is considered by many Georgians to be, in the shadows, the true leader of the country.

When the adoption of the text was announced, European reactions were rapid. Denmark, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, designated the law as “contrary to European values ​​(…), adopted against the advice of Georgia’s true allies”. “We support the people's call for democracy and strongly call on the government to withdraw this law and respect its commitment to the EU path,” said the four MEPs in a message posted on he European executive, only the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, reacted with a message in which she reaffirmed the solidarity of the institution with the Georgian demonstrators.

Within the Twenty-Seven, it is the Baltic countries, themselves former Soviet republics, which express the most solidarity with the Georgian people. The Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Icelandic foreign ministers immediately declared that they were going to Georgia “to express (their) concerns to political leaders and to meet with civil society”, considering that the bill “was incompatible with the pro-European orientation of the country.

Earlier in the day, the Commission had heavily emphasized the "serious consequences" that the adoption of this law would have, making it clear that this legislation would constitute an obstacle to Georgia's accession process to the EU. But the bill moved forward with brutal efficiency, sometimes literally, when several fights broke out in the Georgian Parliament. This text has been described as a “Kremlin-inspired” tool to track independent media and opposition voices, in a country that has long oscillated between the Russian sphere of influence and its European dreams. The law must now be sent to the president, who has said she wants to veto it, but the ruling party has enough votes in Parliament to override it.

Officially a candidate for entry into the European Union since last December, Georgia embodies the war for influence that Russia is waging in the former member states of the USSR. Accession to the EU is seen by a whole section of the population as being the only possible future for the country, while the Georgian government today seems to be leaning towards Moscow.

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