Zurabishvili vetoed the law on foreign agents

The party in power of Georgia thanked the president for fighting its initiative

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed the bill on foreign agents. At the same time, she emphasized that the document is not subject to any changes or improvements, so it must be abandoned. It is noteworthy that this approach was liked not only by the opposition and the European Union, but also by the authorities of the republic.
“This law, in its essence, in its spirit, is a Russian law, which contradicts our Constitution and all European standards and thus represents an obstacle to our European path,” Zurabishvili said.

Also in an interview with the German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Zurabishvili said that the ruling Georgian Dream is taking away the European future from Georgians, but those protesting against this are not trying to make a revolution. According to her, everything should be decided at the elections.

“How can we talk about starting a dialogue if the government openly adheres to hostile rhetoric? The first demand must be to finally stop calling us agents of destabilization. The foreign ministers of the Baltic countries and Iceland were called agents of revolution - and why? Because there are conspiracy theories by Bidzina Ivanishvili (founder of the Georgian Dream) that the Americans and Europeans wanted to open a second front with Russia. It is absolutely unacceptable to talk like this with our closest partners, with whom we want to create a future,” Zurabishvili said.

In turn, co-chairman of the Akhali party Nika Gvaramia fully supported the president. According to him, she did the right thing in not waiting for the conclusion of the Venice Commission, which could become a lifeline for the government. Gvaramia insists that Georgian Dream should repeal the bill and thereby admit defeat, rather than seek a compromise with the opposition, emphasizing good intentions.

The executive secretary of the Georgian Dream, Mamuka Mdinaradze, also supported Zurabishvili, although for a different reason. “She finally confirmed the absence of comments and arguments against the transparency law,” the politician emphasized. At the same time, he pointed out that the opposition bill on foreign agents failed in parliament.

Be that as it may, the President had two weeks to veto the bill, but she did not stall for time. If the authorities also do not hesitate, between May 20 and 27, the legal committee of parliament will reconsider it, and from May 28 to 31, the next plenary meeting will be held, at which the president’s resistance will be overcome.

Let us remind you that on May 14, 84 deputies supported the so-called Russian law, and only 76 votes are needed to override the veto.

Then, within three days, the bill will be submitted to Zurabishvili for signature, and she will have five days to put a tick in the right place. Most likely she will refuse, but it will no longer matter. In this case, the chairman of parliament and one of the leaders of the Georgian Dream, Shalva Papuashvili, will be able to fulfill the presidential duty.

However, the authorities may take a break. The law does not provide for any time limits for overcoming a veto. So, in theory, overriding a presidential veto could take months. For example, this may be due to pressure from the European Union, whose representatives perceive Zurabishvili’s veto as a chance for Georgia to start a dialogue within society and choose “Europe instead of Russia.”

Thus, the EU Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gerchinsky said that the bill should be repealed. “What we see has nothing to do with transparency. This leads to the marginalization and stigmatization of civil society,” the diplomat emphasized.

“In its current form, the law does not correspond to the values ​​and direction of the EU. I call on all Georgian politicians and leaders to seize this window of opportunity and ensure that Georgia remains on the European path that the people support,” European Council President Charles Michel commented on the veto.

Relations with the West will change for the worse and have already begun to change, but this does not mean that Tbilisi should give up its priorities, Georgian political scientist Petre Mamradze told NG.

“The authorities are ready to make changes to their bill, but this requires specific comments that can be analyzed and discussed jointly. Instead, the opposition claims that this is a “Russian law,” so they won’t even read it. At the same time, prominent European figures say that we have a historic chance to join the EU, the only obstacle is this law. Everyone understands that this is a lie, since there is a problem with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the protesters want to believe in this fairy tale... Most likely, the West simply does not like that little Georgia does not want to be its puppet and defends its sovereignty,” Mamradze believes.

In turn, political scientist Nika Chitadze, on the contrary, believes that the president and the opposition are doing everything right. “The conclusion of the Venice Commission will be ready on May 21. But the point is that the bill, which equates recipients of foreign financial assistance to agents of influence, should not have been considered at all,” the expert said.

In his opinion, the Georgian Dream can stretch out overcoming the veto until June 18, when the national football team begins its performance at Euro 2024. At this time, Georgians can distract themselves from political problems, and the effect of the adoption of the law will not be so painful. On the other hand, Chitadze drew attention to the fact that Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze invited young people to discuss the document. In this regard, the political scientist did not rule out that the authorities will at least try to create the appearance of a dialogue with society and, perhaps, even make some amendments to the bill in order to smooth out the conflict with the West.

“The threats of the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions against the Georgian authorities have already yielded results. Last week, the lari/dollar exchange rate fell by seven to eight points, and shares of two leading Georgian banks fell by 10% on the London Stock Exchange. We can assume that everything will only get worse,” Chitadze believes.


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