HomeWorldAmericasUS imposes new visa policy on Georgia over ‘foreign agent’ bill 

US imposes new visa policy on Georgia over ‘foreign agent’ bill 

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Washington, 25 May 2024(TDI): The US imposed a new visa policy on Georgian Individuals and launched a review of bilateral relations between the two states, to pressure the Georgian government to scrap the “Foreign Agent Bill,” the Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Department of State is implementing a new visa restrictions policy for Georgia that will apply to individuals who are responsible for undermining democracy in Georgia, as well as their family members.

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Moreover,  Antony Blinken emphasized the importance of democracy in Georgia is key to long-standing and foundational bilateral relations between the United States and Georgia.

In addition, he expressed concern that the proposed law would suppress the freedom of speech, expression, and association and that the bill would become a great hurdle for delivering high-quality information to the Georgian people.

Bill proposal 

The controversial Bill passed last week by the Georgian Dream Party, requires non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media outlets that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign institutions or powers to register as “foreign agents” and consider promoting the interest of foreign power.

After the passage of the Bill, hundreds of thousands of Georgians came out to the streets of their capital and recorded demonstrations outside the parliament building in Tbilisi.

The Critique of the bill accused the Georgian Dream Party, ruling since 2014, of taking inspiration from Russian legislation used to quash dissent. However, the legislation’s backers have argued that the bill would promote transparency and national sovereignty.

Also read: USAID supports Georgia’s tourism industry

The US argued with Georgia to dismantle the legislation,  warning it could jeopardize its stated goal to join the European Union and NATO. The Georgian government applied for membership in the European Union last year and it was granted candidate status last December.

The European Union President Ursula von der Leyen said last month after the passing of the first phase of the bill that the legislation is a serious obstacle in the way of Georgia to join the European Union.

Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili on Saturday used her veto to block the bill, citing its incompatibility with the constitution.

Zourabichvili’s move is expected to only delay the legislation as the governing party has enough votes in parliament to override the veto in an upcoming vote.

Muhammad Zubair
Muhammad Zubair
The author is a seasoned content writer and a vital contributor to The Diplomatic Insight Magazine. His expertise primarily encompasses domestic issues in Pakistan, indigenous politics, and international politics. His writing journey began during his competitive exams, where he not only honed his skills but also developed a profound interest in International Relations (IR).

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