Top U.S. Senators Warn Of Policy Shift, Sanctions, Visa Bans Over Georgia's 'Foreign Agents' Bill

Top U.S. Senators Warn Of Policy Shift, Sanctions, Visa Bans Over Georgia's 'Foreign Agents' Bill

A group of top U.S. Senators led by Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), along with 12 of their colleagues, on Friday sent in a bipartisan letter to Georgia's Prime Minister expressing their strongest concern over the re-introduction of a law that would force NGOs and independent media that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign donors to register as "foreign agents," TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

Such a law, if successful, would "severely limit free speech and undermine the United States' long standing relationship with Georgia, which is based on shared democratic principles that have also guided Georgia’s path towards membership in the EU," the Senators noted.

In part, the authors went on to add, this legislation “could send a powerful message to the Georgian people that its government no longer reflects their wishes, is actively undermining its EU membership agenda, and refuses to uphold its constitution.”

As a result, the Senators warn “this legislation would cast Georgia’s strongest partners, the US and EU, as malign actors.” They further state that “Such a shift would require U.S. policy toward Georgia to change and reflect the new state of Georgia’s politics.”

II the legislation is passed the Senators warn, they “will be compelled to encourage a shift in U.S. policy toward Georgia.” The shift could also entail “sanctions on those responsible for undermining Georgia’s democratic development or inhibiting its Euro-Atlantic trajectory, reconsideration of direct U.S. financial assistance and the expansion of visa bans to the United States,” reads the letter.

The Senators pledge to “never abandon the aspirations of the Georgian people who have made their voices heard, loud and clear, in support of a democratic and European future” while also noting that “the relationship between the U.S. and Georgia is based on mutual interests and shared values.”

Joining Risch and Shaheen are Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M).

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