EU suspends Georgia’s accession process and withholds financial aid due to controversial ‘foreign agent’ law

EU Freezes Georgia’s Accession Process and Financial Support Over Controversial Law

The European Union’s decision to halt Georgia’s accession process and freeze a portion of its financial support has sent shockwaves through the country and the international community. The move comes in response to a controversial new law in Georgia that critics argue restricts democratic freedoms.

EU Ambassador to Georgia, Pawel Herczynski, confirmed the decision on Tuesday, stating that the EU leaders had decided to stop Georgia’s accession process during the last European Council meeting. Additionally, the EU has frozen its support for Georgia from the European Peace Facility, totaling 30 million euros for 2024. Herczynski expressed disappointment at the current state of EU-Georgia relations, noting that further measures are under consideration if the situation does not improve.

The contentious law in question requires media, NGOs, and other non-profit organizations to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad. Despite widespread protests and a veto from Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, the law was passed by the Georgian parliament.

In December, the EU granted Georgia candidate status for membership, contingent on various reforms, including combating disinformation, aligning foreign and security policies with the EU, and implementing justice reforms. However, membership talks did not begin as Georgia had not met the necessary preconditions. To start talks, unanimous agreement from all 27 EU member nations is required, along with a negotiating mandate and a comprehensive screening procedure.

The EU had previously warned that Georgia’s new “foreign agent” law could jeopardize its bid for EU membership. At the recent summit, EU leaders made it clear that Georgia’s path to membership would be blocked unless the law was repealed. They urged Georgian authorities to reverse course and uphold democratic principles to continue on the path towards EU integration.

The decision to halt Georgia’s accession process and freeze financial support underscores the EU’s commitment to upholding democratic values and the rule of law. It also serves as a stark reminder to countries seeking EU membership that adherence to democratic principles is non-negotiable.