Saffron Restaurants reservation Georgians want a better future

Georgians want a better future

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Last year, the Georgian government proposed a controversial “foreign agents” law similar to Russia’s. While protests at the time forced authorities to withdraw, a renewed effort has resulted in more demonstrations demanding a European future for the country.

May 15, 2024 – Mark Temnycky –
Articles and commentary

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In recent days, thousands of Georgians have gathered in Tbilisi to protest against Georgian Dream’s latest blunder. During the demonstrations, Georgian citizens have called for stronger ties with the European Union and demanded that their government cut ties with Russia.

These requirements have been clear for some time. Last year, the ruling Georgian Dream party introduced a bill that would require organizations to register as foreign agents if they receive money and donations from foreign entities. The bill was immediately criticized by Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, members of the Georgian opposition and most Georgian citizens. They argued that this would exile a significant part of Georgia and that this was an attempt by Georgian Dream to gain further control. Given the backlash against the bill, the ruling party decided to scrap the proposal.

However, the legislation has now returned. Unable to learn from last year’s mistake, Georgian Dream reintroduced the legislation. Not surprisingly, this was met with fierce opposition. Critics of the bill have stated that several non-governmental organizations would be forced to close. Furthermore, the European Union noted that pursuing such legislation would harm potential integration efforts with the West because it would undo government reforms. Despite these calls for concern, Georgian Dream has decided that they will still review the proposed legislation. Instead of doing what the country demands, the members of the ruling party are only exploring ways that benefit themselves.

Now it seems that the renewed law on foreign agents could be the last straw for Georgian Dream. The ruling party has made questionable decisions for years. The government has chosen to strengthen its relationship with Russia and at the same time distance itself from the EU. Georgian Dream increased surveillance of citizens. The ruling party has also targeted political opponents. Recently it even concocted a story that EU-friendly members of the Georgian parliament were orchestrating a coup. Finally, despite previous cooperation with Ukraine in its European integration efforts, the Georgian government accused the Ukrainians of meddling in Georgian affairs. Georgian Dream even went so far as to say that Ukrainian authorities were trying to overthrow the Georgian government.

Now the Georgian people have had enough. Georgian citizens have continued to show their disgust towards the ruling party. They have called for better socio-economic opportunities within Georgia, strengthening ties with European institutions and a better future for their country.

This was most evident in the March for Europe demonstration organized by Georgian citizens. During the event, thousands of Georgians were seen waving the European Union flag. They chanted slogans in favor of European integration, and many participants declared that Georgia’s future belongs in Europe.

Given these developments, it appears that Georgian Dream’s days are numbered. According to recent opinion polls, only a quarter of Georgians support the ruling party. Many citizens are starting to distance themselves from Georgian Dream and support other groups.

It is unclear how the current debate over the Foreign Agents Law will unfold, but what is certain is that Georgian citizens want a better future. The outcome of these events will be most visible this fall, when Georgian citizens will make sure their disdain for Georgian Dream is noticed. Later this year, millions of Georgians will go to the polls for the October 2024 parliamentary elections. During this period, many Georgians will choose to vote for political candidates who have campaigned for Georgian integration with the West and improving living standards in the country. This will likely result in a decrease in the number of seats for Georgian Dream in this year’s elections.

As for Georgian Dream, it is unlikely that anything will change. In recent years, the ruling party has made several questionable decisions in an attempt to slow or reverse progress on European integration. Georgian citizens have made their position known by protesting against various policies and decisions of the Georgian Dream. Even if Georgian Dream were to repeal the law on foreign agents, it is unlikely that this would improve relations with Georgians. In other words, the damage has been done. It would be surprising if Georgian Dream retained its majority status in the Georgian parliament after the elections.

In short, there is a lot at stake for Georgia. The outcome of the parliamentary elections will clearly have an impact on the future of the country. Although there is uncertainty about how events will develop, the current situation surrounding Georgian Dream’s recent decision to reintroduce the Foreign Agents Law indicates that Georgians have had enough of the ruling party. Georgian citizens want a country that offers them new opportunities and living standards. They want a government that takes European integration seriously, as well as leaders who will continue anti-corruption efforts and reform campaigns in their countries.

Georgia’s future looks bright. It is time for Georgians to take a stand and secure a better future.

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eurasian affairs and a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. It can be found at X @MTemnycky


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democratic resilience, foreign agent, Georgia, Georgia-EU relations, Russian interference, the South Caucasus