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Entering WTO without Georgian consent

By Messenger Staff
Friday, December 10
There are fewer and fewer obstacles remaining for Russia to enter into the WTO - World Trade Organization. So far the biggest barrier for Moscow has been Tbilisi’s position which demands legalization of customs checkpoints on the official border of Russia and Georgia at Psou and Roki Tunnel. These places however are occupied by Russia at present and controlled by the Russian puppet regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both of them, encouraged by Moscow, claim their independence. So, Georgia demands to annul Georgia's occupation, to remove any separatist ambitions and to have Georgian officials operating customs checkpoints in the above mentioned places. Of course this is Georgia’s dream but, realistically, it is an illusion. Georgia has no chance whatsoever of returning back to its lands that Russia snatched militarily. Little Georgia tries to use its veto right to prevent Russia from entering the organization. The Kremlin meanwhile is trying to get access to the organization bypassing Georgia.

There are different opinions in Georgia. Some state that Russia can become a WTO member without Georgian endorsement. Analyst Levan Kalandadze thinks that Georgia’s position will become valid only if USA and the EU support it. If these entities support Russian claims then Moscow can become the member despite Georgia’s desperate resistance.

The issue intensified recently when a memorandum was signed between EU and Russia on the latter becoming a WTO member. President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia expressed his satisfaction in this regard. Georgia is still firmly refusing to offer its support. There are other opinions as well. The commentator of Radio Liberty thinks that it would be difficult to become a WTO member for Russia without Georgia’s consent. It is quite probable that Georgia could torpedo the final decision. As for the Brussels memorandum it could only reflect the intentions of both sides. Officially, Tbilisi aired the statement via the press speaker of Georgia's PM who stated that Georgia can exercise its veto right and block Russia’s accession process. On the other hand, Georgian officials declared their readiness to conduct negotiations with the Russian side over the legalizing of checkpoints on the Russian border.

There are many conflicting issues between Russia and Georgia and Russia stubbornly ignores Georgia's position which was expressed by the president Saakashvili that Georgia is ready to discuss the conflict through dialogue. However, Moscow stubbornly refuses to sit at the table with Georgians, claiming that Tbilisi has conflicts with Tskhinvali and Sokhumi, its own territories in fact. So, if Moscow continues holding its position and ignoring Tbilisi regarding the Russians status as a WTO member, it is unlikely that it could become a WTO member. There are two options however. Either the WTO changes its statute or the EU, US and other countries put pressure on Georgia and force it to make concessions. Or maybe there are some other casuistic possibilities to bypass Georgia's position.