Thursday, June 20, 2024

“US behind two failed color revolutions in Georgia”

Tbilisi needs to “reconsider” its relationship with Washington, given that American-funded NGOs were behind at least two attempts at overthrowing the government, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has said.

The US has threatened sanctions against senior Georgian officials after the former Soviet republic passed a ‘foreign agents’ law which was denounced by the West as a threat to democracy.

“I don’t know why there were two attempts at revolution in 2020-2021, and then in 2022. I don’t know why there were these attempts, but the fact is that the previous [US] ambassador spoiled a lot of things, a lot of things were ruined in those years, and this needs to be corrected,” Kobakhidze told reporters on Friday.

“This includes American-funded NGOs that stood on the revolutionary stage, calling for the resignation of the government, and the formation of a government with their participation. Therefore, Georgian-American relations need to be reconsidered,” the prime minister added.

Georgia will do everything it can to improve relations with the US, Kobakhidze said, as this is in the interests of both countries.

The government in Tbilisi has been under intense pressure from the US and EU to drop the proposed Transparency of Foreign Influence Act, to the point that Washington and Brussels have threatened sanctions and a halt to Georgia’s EU and NATO integration.

The law would require NGOs, media outlets, and individuals receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as entities “promoting the interests of a foreign power” and to disclose their donors, or be fined up to $9,500 for noncompliance. The law sparked protests, during which activists clashed with police and tried to storm the country’s parliament building last month.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that Washington would introduce visa restrictions on “individuals who are responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia, as well as their family members.”

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi suggested to Kobakhidze that he could meet the same fate as Slovak PM Robert Fico, who narrowly survived an assassination attempt last month. Varhelyi later said his warning about the dangers of “polarization in society” was misunderstood.

Georgian NGOs, which are primarily funded by the West, have denounced the proposed law as “Russian” and attempted to replicate their 2023 success in forcing the government to back down. This time, however, the parliament passed the law and overrode President Salome Zourabichvili’s veto earlier this week. The government has denied that the law will be used to crack down on the opposition and insisted that the legislation is compatible with EU norms. 

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