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US launches comprehensive review of cooperation with Georgia — secretary of state

The US administration is launching new policy of visa restrictions against Georgian state officials, Antony Blinken said
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Turar Kazangapov/TASS
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
© Turar Kazangapov/TASS

WASHINGTON, May 24. /TASS/. The United States Administration will launch a major review of Georgian-American cooperation following the adoption of the law on foreign agents in Georgia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"I am also launching today a comprehensive review of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Georgia," Blinken said in a statement.

In his words, the review "will take into account Georgia’s actions in deciding our own.".

"As Georgian citizens have voiced opposition to the law, we have seen clear indications of a campaign of intimidation and the use of violence to suppress peaceful dissent. Both the 'national security law' and the repressive tactics used to quell legitimate dissent undermine Georgia’s democracy and the fundamental freedoms to which the Georgian people are entitled and run contrary to Georgia’s long-stated goal - reflected in its constitution — of Euro-Atlantic integration and strategic partnership with the United States," the statement says.

Washington hopes that the Georgian leaders "will reconsider the draft law and take steps to move forward with their nation’s democratic and Euro-Atlantic aspirations."

The US administration is launching new policy of visa restrictions against Georgian state officials, Blinken said.

In his words, the newly adopted law "would stifle the exercise of freedoms of association and expression, stigmatize organizations that serve the citizens of Georgia, and impede independent media organizations working to provide Georgians with access to high quality information."

"In response to these actions, the Department of State is implementing a new visa restriction policy for Georgia that will apply to individuals who are responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia, as well as their family members. This includes individuals responsible for suppressing civil society and freedom of peaceful assembly in Georgia through a campaign of violence or intimidation," the top US diplomat said.

"Anyone who undermines democratic processes or institutions in Georgia —including in the lead-up to, during, and following Georgia’s October 2024 elections — may be found ineligible for US visas under this policy and precluded from travel to the United States. Immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions," he said.

The Georgian legislature passed a bill On Transparency of Foreign Influence, also known as the foreign agents bill, in the third reading on May 14. That prompted threats from the European Union to halt the country's integration into the bloc. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien said that the US would impose sanctions on Georgian officials if democracy was undermined in the country. President Salome Zourabichvili vetoed the law on May 18, but according to Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, lawmakers plan to override it. Parliament will vote on the veto next week.