EU leaders say Georgia’s push to join bloc ‘de facto’ halted after Russian-style law

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Georgia’s path to the EU has “de facto” been blocked after it passed a controversial Kremlin-style law targeting alleged foreign influence, the bloc’s leaders said Thursday.

The South Caucasus country -- which formally became a candidate to join the EU last year -- adopted a law against “foreign influence” this month that critics say is modelled on Russian legislation used to stifle dissent.

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The move was condemned by Georgia’s Western supporters, with Washington banning several officials from the ex-Soviet nation from the United States.

EU leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels called on Georgia’s authorities “to clarify their intentions by reversing the current course of action which jeopardizes Georgia’s EU path, de facto leading to a halt of the accession process.”

“The law adopted on transparency of foreign influence represents backsliding” on steps Georgia took to become a candidate for EU membership, a declaration from the summit said.

The 27-nation EU is now pondering its response to the moves from the ruling Georgian Dream party, but is wary of pushing the state closer towards Moscow.

Initial steps being discussed by ministers could include stopping funding for Georgia’s security forces, cutting government financing, or severing high-level contacts.

Despite the moves from the Georgian government, the population of the country -- partially occupied by Russian forces -- remains overwhelmingly in favor of closer EU ties.

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