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Georgia rejects threat of suspending visa-free regime with EU over foreign agents law

Kakha Kaladze emphasized that Georgia is ready for friendship, cooperation and partnership, for healthy relations

TBILISI, May 22. /TASS/. Kakha Kaladze, leader of Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia party and mayor of Tbilisi has dismissed as unacceptable the idea of potentially suspending visa-free regime with the EU due to the adoption of the law on foreign agents by the republic.

The Financial Times (FT) reported earlier on Wednesday that a number of European Union countries are pushing for restrictive measures against Georgia, including the suspension of visa-free travel to the EU for its citizens, in response to the country's parliament passing a law On Transparency of Foreign Influence.

"The above rhetoric is totally unacceptable. Why should our country suspend the visa-free regime? Because the parliament in Georgia, which is elected by majority vote in the country, adopts necessary and important laws? Those statements that we hear from the West, our partners, are completely unacceptable," Kaladze told reporters.

He emphasized that Georgia is ready for friendship, cooperation and partnership, for healthy relations. According to him, the republic has already proved that it is a reliable partner.

On May 14, the Georgian Parliament adopted the law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" in the third reading, which provoked harsh statements from the European Union about threats to suspend the country's integration into the association. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien also said that the United States would impose sanctions against the Georgian authorities if democracy is undermined in Georgia. President Salome Zourabishvili vetoed the law on May 18, but according to Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, MPs intend to overrule the veto.

Consideration of the draft law began in April. Since then, large-scale protests have been held in Georgia. Several times they escalated into clashes with security forces. Law enforcement used pepper spray and water cannons to disperse the protesters. The law has been opposed by the US, the EU, the UN, NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. European leaders say the law contradicts European values. Leaders of Georgia’s ruling party argue that it merely serves to ensure the transparency of foreign funding for the non-governmental sector and media.