Ambassador Holland delivers a statement on behalf of UK and Canada calling on the government of Georgia to withdraw its legislation on the Transparency of Foreign Influence, so that it can pursue its Euro-Atlantic trajectory.

Neil Holland

Thank you, Chair. I am delivering this statement on behalf of Canada and my own country, the United Kingdom.

We are close friends of Georgia. Our partnership is broad and deep. We remain staunchly committed to defending Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of the continuous hybrid threat it faces from Russia. We stand resolute in demanding that Russia remove its illegal presence from Georgian soil, and we reiterate our support for Georgia to tackle the range of hybrid threats it faces.

We are committed to supporting the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people, which are made clear in the Georgian Constitution.

We remain deeply concerned by the Georgian government continuing to pursue the Transparency of Foreign Influence Law, with the Parliament overturning the Presidential veto on 28 May.  We continue to believe, and have repeatedly made clear, that a vibrant civil society is a key part of a thriving democratic state. We thank ODIHR for their recent visit to Georgia and reiterate our support for ODIHR’s work and mandate. Civil society plays a major and important role in holding participating States to account for implementation of our shared OSCE principles and commitments.

As the Venice Commission concluded, this law risks stigmatising, silencing and eventually eliminating associations and media that receive even a low part of their funding from abroad.  It will significantly impact freedom of association and of expression, the right to privacy, the right to participate in public affairs and the prohibition of discrimination.

Such legislation is not in line with Georgia’s aspirations and will harm Georgia’s attempt to integrate with Euro-Atlantic institutions.

The protests we have seen in Tbilisi over recent weeks have shown that the Georgian people’s will to be part of Europe has never been stronger. Intimidation of opponents of the law must also cease and the rights of the Georgian people to freedom of expression and peaceful protest must be protected.

We want to support a prosperous, sovereign, democratic Georgia that is continuing to deliver the reforms needed to make progress on its Euro-Atlantic integration.  As we and partners have consistently stated, this law is completely contrary to that objective. So we call on the government of Georgia to withdraw the legislation, so that it can pursue its Euro-Atlantic trajectory.

Thank you.

Published 30 May 2024