Toggle navigation menu.

Wilson, Cohen, Hudson, Veasey Introduce MEGOBARI Act

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, U.S. Helsinki Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Commissioner Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-09), and Commissioner Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33) introduced the bipartisan Mobilizing and Enhancing Georgia’s Options for Building Accountability, Resilience, and Independence (MEGOBARI) Act. This vital legislation aims to bolster democratic practices, human rights, and the rule of law in the Republic of Georgia, reaffirming the United States’ commitment to supporting Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and countering the influence of authoritarian regimes, particularly Russia.

“In the Georgian language, ‘megobari’ means ‘friend,’ and this bill reflects the powerful friendship and partnership between the United States and the Georgian people,” said Chairman Wilson. “The MEGOBARI Act is designed to support the Georgian people’s longstanding democratic and Euro-Atlantic aspirations and ensure their government remains accountable to its citizens and those principles.”

“Georgia is being pushed towards Moscow. We have an obligation to the Georgian people to help protect their democracy and pro-West future,” said Ranking Member Cohen, “This bill does just that and builds a foundation for a new page in a more robust and expanded bilateral partnership.”

“Vladimir Putin is a dictator who wants to rebuild the Soviet Empire through any means necessary. The United States will always stand against Putin’s attempts to subvert freedom and democracy,” said Commissioner Hudson. “The MEGOBARI Act is a key step to support Georgia’s democratic aspirations and counter Russia’s influence in the country.”

“The United States and the Georgian people have built a powerful friendship over the past three decades as we have mourned together, celebrated accomplishments, and fought side by side,” said Commissioner Veasey. “The MEGOBARI Act is an expression of that continued alliance and underscores that Congress will act to defend Georgia’s democracy to highlight a better path forward.”

Commissioner Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Commissioner Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-21), and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) also cosponsored the bill.

In addition, yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a visa restriction policy for individuals and their families “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia.” The Helsinki Commission welcomes this announcement as strong signal of support to the Georgian people and an expression of the Commission’s coordination with its State Department colleagues on these issues. Looking ahead, the MEGOBARI Act will provide the State Department with additional tools to support the Georgian people’s struggle for freedom.

Key Provisions of the MEGOBARI Act:

  • Supporting Democracy and Rule of Law: The Act declares U.S. policy to defend democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law in Georgia. It acknowledges the significant progress made by Georgian civil society and emphasizes the importance of consolidating democracy for regional stability and U.S. interests.
  • Addressing Democratic Backsliding: In response to recent democratic decline in Georgia, the Act calls for increased scrutiny of the Georgian government’s actions and its ties to Russia and other authoritarian regimes.
  • Reporting and Sanctions: The Act mandates several reports to ensure accountability:
    • Improper Influence and Sanctions Evasion: Reports on corrupt practices in Georgia that support Russian interests and sanctions evasion.
    • Russian Intelligence Assets: Assessment of Russian intelligence penetration in Georgia and potential Chinese cooperation.
    • Sanctions on Georgian Individuals: Identification and imposition of sanctions and travel bans on individuals undermining democracy in Georgia.
  • Establishing a Democracy Monitoring Task Force: A task force will be set up to monitor and promote a democratic environment in Georgia, especially during elections, to ensure fair and free electoral processes.
  • Enhancing Bilateral Relations and Support: Upon certification of significant democratic progress in Georgia, the Act outlines further U.S. assistance, including:
    • Negotiating a more preferential trade agreement with Georgia.
    • Enhancing people-to-people exchanges and visa simplification.
    • Developing an economic and modernization package.
    • Providing security and defense support to counter Russian aggression.

“The MEGOBARI Act clearly and simply demonstrates the seriousness with which we take our obligations to the Georgian people,” said Chairman Wilson. “This legislation will highlight the high costs of further attacks on Georgia’s democracy, but also demonstrate our commitment to revitalizing the bilateral partnership.”

The legislation was crafted in coordination with leading U.S. and international democracy promotion organizations and throughout the U.S. government. The MEGOBARI Act has also won praise from numerous human rights and pro-democracy activists in Georgia and has been officially endorsed by some of the leading pro-democracy voices in the United States.

“We welcome introduction of the MEGOBARI Act, which is a clear demonstration of friendship and solidarity with the people of Georgia and their choice to better their country’s democracy and increase its respect for human rights,” said Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Interim President at Freedom House. “The international community must stand with the Georgian people at this critical time. The MEGOBARI Act offers a clear path forward for U.S. bilateral relations with Georgia should the ‘foreign agents’ law be enacted – or, hopefully, withdrawn.”

The MEGOBARI Act reaffirms the United States’ unwavering support for the Georgian people and their pursuit of democratic and Euro-Atlantic integration, contributing to regional stability and reinforcing U.S. national interests.

Endorsements for the MEGOBARI Act:
Freedom House
Razom for Ukraine
Georgian Association in the USA
Central & East European Coalition
North Caucasus Nations Committee
Syria Ukraine Network
Syrian Emergency Taskforce

###

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Briefings

Ukrainian Culture in Wartime

May 29, 2024

Russia has damaged or destroyed countless Ukrainian museums, libraries, cultural centers, theaters, schools, and sites of religious and historical significance. These physical attacks are accompanied by the Kremlin’s public denigration and even denial of a distinct Ukrainian national identity. This combination of physical destruction and insidious propaganda has by design posed an existential threat to […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission House Leadership Statement on 80...

May 24, 2024

  Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) made the following statement: “We unequivocally condemn the brutal deportation of Crimean Tatars orchestrated by the Soviet regime in 1944. This horrific act, which forcibly uprooted an entire population from their homeland, represents a grave violation of human rights, […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING: Supporting Georgia’s Sovereignty and Democracy

May 17, 2024

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Room TBD WASHINGTON—The recent adoption of a Russian-style foreign agent law heralds an openly anti-western turn by the ruling Georgian Dream government, and their concomitant alignment with Russia as well as other authoritarian powers such as China. After three decades of a pro-west, democratizing, and Euro-Atlantic-facing […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Closing the Skies, Liberating Ukraine

May 16, 2024

WASHINGTON—The recent, bipartisan passage of supplemental aid for Ukraine may represent a turning point in the war against Russia’s genocidal invasion. Outgunned and outmanned, Ukrainian forces have lost territory in recent months, but made Russian forces pay a tremendous cost for ultimately moderate territorial gains, with Russian forces suffering nearly 90,000 casualties in taking several […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING – Closing the Skies, Liberating Ukraine

May 09, 2024

Thursday, May 16, 2024 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2212 Stream live here: https: https://www.youtube.com/live/AN0aG5BGwI0 WASHINGTON—The recent, bipartisan passage of supplemental aid for Ukraine may represent a turning point in the war against Russia’s genocidal invasion. Outgunned and outmanned, Ukrainian forces have lost territory in recent months, but made Russian forces pay a tremendous […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission Leadership Honors World Press Fr...

May 03, 2024

WASHINGTON—On World Press Freedom Day, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) issue the following joint statement: “On World Press Freedom Day, we stand in solidarity with courageous journalists globally. We are especially concerned about American journalists […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission House Leadership Statement on Re...

Apr 25, 2024

“After decades of struggle since regaining its independence, Russian influence is making a comeback in Georgia. To its shame, Georgia’s ruling party, defying the Georgian people’s Euro-Atlantic choice and against the advice of its closest friends, is again pushing a Russian-style foreign agent bill. This bill, alongside other attacks on Georgia’s increasingly diminished democracy, aims […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Paul Massaro Appointed Helsinki Commission Staff Dir...

Apr 22, 2024

WASHINGTON — Today, Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) made the following statement: “I am very grateful to appoint Paul Massaro as Staff Director of the Helsinki Commission. He has worked closely with me and my staff for many years advancing legislation to hold dictators to account and further the cause of democracy and Ukrainian victory. I […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Malta: Leading the OSCE Through Turbulent Times

Apr 16, 2024

  WASHINGTON—The Republic of Malta stepped up to take leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—demonstrating its commitment to uphold the principles of the organization, including on security, conflict resolution, democracy and human rights.  Two years into Putin’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine, much of the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING – The Republic of Malta: Leading the O...

Apr 10, 2024

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Rayburn 2247 Stream live here: https: https://youtube.com/live/TddF3ycKl1A WASHINGTON—The Republic of Malta stepped up to take leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—demonstrating its commitment to uphold the principles of the organization, including on security, conflict resolution, democracy and […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission Senate leadership Statement on R...

Apr 05, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC—In response to the Georgian government’s announcement that it intends in the coming days to reintroduce Russian-style “foreign agent” legislation, U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Ben Cardin (Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Senate Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee) issued the following statement: “This is a deliberate attack on […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

U.S. Helsinki Commissioners Issue Statement in Nurem...

Mar 20, 2024

February 20, 2024 Nuremberg, Germany Court Room 600 NUREMBERG, GERMANY—U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02), Helsinki Commissioners Senator Thom Tillis (NC) and Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (IN-05), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-37) and Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01) led a field hearing on February 20 to examine how best to bring Russian perpetrators to account for their […]

screen-reader-text