EU's Borrell condemns Georgia foreign influence law

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday a Georgian draft law on “transparency of foreign influence” was a "very bad development" for the country and could seriously affect its ties with the EU.

"This is a very bad development for Georgia and its people," Borrell said in a written statement.

Protesters in the small ex-Soviet state threw petrol bombs and stones at police on Tuesday night after parliament gave its initial backing to a draft law on "foreign agents" which critics say represents an authoritarian shift.

"The law in its current form risks having a chilling effect on civil society and media organisations, with negative consequences for the many Georgians benefiting from their work. This law is incompatible with EU values and standards," Borrell said.

"It goes against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgian citizens. Its final adoption may have serious repercussions on our relations," said Borrell, who is in Stockholm for a meeting of EU defence ministers.

Borrell said the EU "urges Georgia to uphold its commitment to the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and recalls the right of people to a peaceful protest."

(Reporting by Andrew Gray)