U.S. to offer Georgia massive support package should it abandon its 'Russian law' and anti-Western rhetoric

Demonstrators hold a rally to protest against the draft law on
Demonstrators hold a rally to protest against the draft law on "foreign agents", Tbilisi, Georgia, May 12, 2024

The U.S. could provide a large-scale package of economic and security support to Georgia if its government abandons its increasingly anti-Western rhetoric and stops attacking human rights, Politico reported, citing the relevant bill.

The U.S. would begin negotiating a "reliable preferential trade regime" with Georgia should certain key political criteria be met, the draft law says.

It could be introduced to Congress later this week, Politico reported.

Read also: Mass brawl and protests in Georgian parliament over controversial 'foreign agents' law – video

In addition to improving access to American markets, the document calls for visa liberalization for Georgian citizens.

The bill also authorizes government officials to develop a package of military support for Georgia, including "the provision of security and defense equipment ideally suited for territorial defense against Russian aggression, as well as related elements of training, maintenance and operations support."

The law will only be passed if the U.S. believes that "Georgia has demonstrated significant and sustained progress in restoring democracy, as evidenced by, at a minimum, fair and free elections, and a balanced election environment."

The United States plans to impose sanctions on Georgian politicians from the ruling party and law enforcement officers responsible for promoting the so-called 'Foreign Agents' law, also known as the 'Russian law'.

The “Foreign Agents” bill and protests in Georgia

Mass protests swept through Georgia on April 9 following ruling Georgian Dream party leader Mamuka Mdinaradz's announcement that his party intended to reintroduce the 'Foreign Agents’ bill.

Security forces moved to disperse demonstrators in Tbilisi on April 16.

Read also: Georgia risks sliding into Russia’s orbit — opposition MP

The Georgian legislature approved the bill in its first reading on April 17.

The measure mandates the registration of non-profit organizations and media receiving over 20% of their income from abroad as ‘organizations acting in the interests of a foreign state.’

The bill requires three votes for passage in the Georgian parliament to become law.”

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze stated on April 18 that the “Foreign Agents” bill aims to safeguard the country from “Ukrainization.”

In response, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the real threat to Georgia is Russification, not “mystical Ukrainization,” warning that using Ukraine derogatorily harms Ukrainian-Georgian relations.

On the same day, members of the European Parliament voiced concerns that the adoption of Georgia’s controversial “Foreign Agents” bill could jeopardize the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration efforts.

The European Parliament passed a resolution regarding Georgia’s foreign influence transparency bill, casting doubt on the country’s EU accession talks while the law is activeб on April 25.

Clashes erupted between police and protesters near the Georgian parliament on April 30. President Zourabichvili urged an end to the protest dispersal in Tbilisi and held the government responsible for the unrest.

On May 1, the Interior Ministry announced that police had arrested 60 demonstrators, charging them with hooliganism and disobeying lawful police orders. Six police officers sustained injuries during the clashes.

Later that day, the Georgian parliament approved the “Foreign Agents” bill in its second reading.

Read also: Situation tense in Georgia as Special Forces push protesters away from entrances to parliament - video, photos

The legal committee of the Georgian Parliament considered and supported the law on "Foreign Agents" in the third reading in 67 seconds on May 13.

The Georgian Parliament adopted the draft law on "Foreign Agents" in the final third reading on May 14.

84 MPs voted for the adoption of the law; 30 opposition MPs voted against it. Also that day, security forces began to disperse protesters who had gathered near the parliament building.

The European Union may freeze Georgia's application for membership if the law on "Foreign Agents" comes into force, The Financial Times newspaper wrote on May 16.

NATO also warned the Georgian government that the law is incompatible with the country's membership in NATO and the EU.

Salome Zurabishvili vetoed the law on transparency of foreign influence on May 18.

The law contradicts the country's constitution and European standards and "in this way represents an obstacle on our European path," she said.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine