Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Wednesday discussed the bill on transparency of foreign influence with Paweł Herczyński, the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia and ambassadors of the EU member states, the Parliament press office said.
In his comments to the media, Papuashvili said the ambassadors “expressed concerns” over the bill proposed by People's Power, a public movement composed of former members of the ruling Georgian Dream party, and involving registration of non-commercial legal entities and media outlets as “agents of foreign influence” if they derive more than 20 percent of their income from abroad.
In the light of the “stigmatisation” of the discussion over the bill, such concerns are understandable, Papuashvili noted, highlighting the importance of transparency, as well as mutual understanding of all actors involved in the political decision-making process, which has been “required” by Georgian citizens.
The Parliament Speaker emphasised the draft law would be sent to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, and expressed hope that, in the meantime, the civil society would “actively” work with the legislative body to “ensure transparency”, instead of “stigmatising and tabooing” the discussion on the initiative.
In his turn, after the meeting, the EU Ambassador criticised the bill on transparency of foreign influence as an initiative that “does not correspond to the norms and values of the EU”, and stressed the initiative contradicted “at least” two points out of the 12-point conditions outlined by the European Council for granting Georgia the membership candidate status.
Herczyński also said he and the ambassadors had a “very frank” and open exchange of views with Papuashvili and Nikoloz Samkharadze, the Georgian Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, and as he noted the EU would “closely” observe the development of the initiative and expressed hope it “would not become a law”.