The EU is thinking about cutting funds to Georgia over its new ‘foreign agents’ law

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is weighing whether to cut financial support to Georgia if it does not withdraw a new law that critics say will curb media freedom and harms the country’s chances of joining the bloc, the EU’s top diplomat said on Monday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the 27-nation bloc is considering “putting a hold to our financial assistance to the government” in Tbilisi and downgrading political contacts with it. It was not clear how much money would be affected.

“This can be done immediately, but we will continue looking at the situation,” Borrell told reporters after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. He noted the possibility of “taking more measures,” without giving details.

Borrell added that “this law, and all the negative developments around it, are pushing Georgia away from the European Union.”

Earlier this month, the speaker of Georgia’s parliament said he signed into law the so-called “foreign agents” measure despite weeks of large protests over it.

The measure requires media, nongovernmental organizations and other nonprofit groups to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad.

The opposition in Georgia has denounced the bill as “the Russian law” because Moscow uses similar legislation to stigmatize independent news media and organizations critical of the Kremlin, and called its passage a sign of neighboring Russia’s hold over Georgia.

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