According to 14 Senators, Accepting the Russian Law Will Damage Georgia’s Relations with the USA — VOA

the scientist

According to Voice of America, a bipartisan group of the United States Senate sent a letter to Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on April 26, expressing deep concern and warning Kobakhidze that if the re-initiated Russian bill becomes law, they will be forced to encourage a change in US policy towards Georgia.

VOA writes that the unprecedented note of concern sent by 14 senators to Irakli Kobakhidze is the most severe among other statements recorded by the Senate.

According to the publication, the sending of the bipartisan letter was led by the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and the highest-ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator James Risch.

They are calling on the government of Georgia to withdraw the law, which threatens US-Georgia relations and also raises the possibility of imposing sanctions on individuals, cutting off direct government funding and expanding visa restrictions.

According to the information from the publication, the senators consider several factors in the change of policy, which have not been voiced in Georgia-US relations before. These include imposing individual sanctions, cutting off direct funding and expanding visa restrictions. So far, the State Department has imposed visa restrictions on four Georgian judges.

“We, as members of Congress, who have deep respect for the Georgian people and have always been strong bipartisan and foremost supporters of bilateral ties with your country, will be very disappointed if the Georgian Parliament passes a Foreign Agents Act that undermines Georgia’s relationship with the United States. If this bill is passed, we will be forced to encourage changes in US policy toward Georgia, which could include sanctions against those responsible for hindering Georgia’s democratic development or limiting its Euro-Atlantic development trajectory, revising direct US financial aid, and expanding US visa bans”, the senators announce.

According to the publication, the senators write to Irakli Kobakhidze that they, as long-time friends of Georgia, were forced to express deep concern over the Georgian government’s decision to re-introduce the “Russian-style foreign agents law”.

“Enacting this legislation could send a powerful message to the Georgian people that their government no longer reflects their wishes, is actively damaging the EU membership agenda and refuses to uphold the Constitution. As a result, this legislation will define Georgia’s closest partners, the United States and the European Union, as malicious actors. Such a change leads to a change in America’s policy towards Georgia and reflects the new state of Georgia’s politics,” the Voice of America quotes the letter sent to Kobakhidze.

According to the publication, the senators reject the Georgian Dream narrative that the Russian law is similar to the influence of American foreign agents, the so-called “flock”.

“We must also state that the reintroduced Foreign Agents Act does not reflect any US law and will be used to silence civil society and the media, which play an important role in the development of Georgia’s democratic institutions. As you know, freedom of speech can be inconvenient for any ruling party, but the ability to disagree and express one’s opinion publicly is what strengthens and strengthens democracy.”

VOA writes that, like many high-ranking officials of the European Union, the senators say that the target of the bill initiated by Georgian Dream is civil society and independent media, which are “the vital artery of Georgian democracy”. In addition, the draft law is directed against the support of the United States and Europe, against those partners of Georgia who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Georgia’s sovereignty and democratic transformations since 1991.

According to Voice of America, at the end of the letter, the senators promise that they will never abandon “the aspiration of the Georgian people, who made their voice heard in support of the democratic and European future, loud and clear.” According to them, the relationship between the United States and Georgia is based on mutual interests and common values, and each of them is a strong supporter of further deepening of this relationship. However, they also say that the relationship in this direction cannot “continue until this legislation is withdrawn”.

In the letter, the leading members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee say that the Georgian government should take into account the desire of the majority of its citizens to move the country towards joining the European Union, because the adoption of this law, as the European Union has repeatedly stated, will have a negative impact on Georgia’s prospects for joining the European bloc. This will be the government’s rejection of its own constitution.

The senators are also aware of the Russian threats facing Georgia and say that America, both in the past and in the future, will support the right of the Georgian people to protect Georgia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence from Russia, which is waging a hybrid war in Georgia and has a large-scale harmful impact on society before the future elections planned to take place in October.

According to the Voice of America, the letter is signed by:

  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen
  • Senator James Risch
  • Senator Ben Cardin
  • Senator Lindsey Graham
  • Senator Chris Coons
  • Senator Pete Ricketts
  • Senator Richard Durbin
  • Senator Roger Wicker
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal
  • Senator Tom Tillis
  • Senator Tim Kaine
  • Senator Dan Sullivan
  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
  • Senator Martin Heinrich