Georgia does not obstruct Russia in its pursuit of WTO membership?!
28 April, 2011
Georgia does not obstruct Russia in its pursuit of WTO membership?!

Another round of Tbilisi-Moscow negotiations on the membership of the World Trade Organization that Russia seeks will be held at the end of this week, on 28 April in Swiss town Bern. In his interview with Russian magazine Ogonyok, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze says that Georgia is not going to block Russian WTO aspiration. Meanwhile, Russia hopes that it will manage to get the membership in autumn of this year, after completing corresponding procedures.
Grigol Vashadze also told the

Ogonyok magazine that Russia would have to relate to Georgia on equal terms, adding that Georgia did not intend to prevent Russian WTO membership. At the same time, Vashadze pointed out that Georgia was not experiencing any pressure from its partners and that it is a common knowledge that Russia’s WTO membership would be beneficial for the world economy.
“We are heading for Bern not to block the Russian aspiration but to find together with the Russian delegation a mutually acceptable way out of the legal conundrum created by Moscow when it recognized independence of Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia so hastily, emotionally and stupidly,”  Vashadze said.
At the same time, top Georgian diplomat underlined that the Georgian Authorities always abide by the statute, rules and procedures of WTO. “No political, military and other topics that are related to the subject would be tabled there,” claims Vashadze. He holds strong hopes that they would reach success in the negotiations with the Kremlin. Moreover, Russia believes it will finish all membership-related procedures by autumn of this year.
At the beginning of April, Russian Vice PM Sergei Ivanov announced at the meeting of the Council for International Relations in New-York that Russia wishes to sort out political problems associated with its WTO membership talks on its own. Ivanov said that 2010 was the year of breakthrough for Russia in this regard.
“We expect that we will join this organization this summer or autumn. This is absolutely real as we sorted out all the problems,” Ivanov said. Commenting on the Georgian position, he noted that such problems are political in nature and do not have a direct bearing with WTO.”
Let us remind our reader that this March, three years after the August war, Russia held the first round of negotiations with Tbilisi on its WTO membership. Initially, Tbilisi was demanding permission for Georgia to install its customs offices on Psou River and at Roki tunnel. However, this request was rejected by Russian Foreign Ministry. It retorted to Tbilisi that such issues need to be discussed with Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, not Russia. However, during the Bern negotiations Tbilisi suggested several options after which it was ready to make allowances. According to the Russian media, one of them was a Transdnistria option which foresaw dislocation of observers of international organizations or European Council along the internal perimeters of separatist regions.
Russia, who has been trying to enter WTO since 1993, needs a consensus of WTO member countries to join the organization. And Georgia, who is a WTO member since 2000, has the right of veto.
It is noteworthy that after the Bern negotiations the Kremlin started to talk about the possibility of gaining the WTO membership bypassing Georgia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the end of March that Russia has an opportunity to join World Trade Organization without Georgian consent if Georgian colleagues remain stubborn and obstruct any chance of consensus.
As for the position of official Tbilisi, the Government says the Georgian side has a clearly formed position and will defend it to the end.

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