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Tbilisi-Moscow WTO negotiations

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 15
The second round of negotiations over Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will be held in April. Georgia has apparently relaxed its stance regarding allowing Georgian customs officers at the legal Georgian – Russian borders at Psou and the Roki Tunnel, since this is completely unacceptable to Moscow.

According to the Russian media during the negotiations in Bern, Switzerland Georgia offered Russia the option of having representatives of international organisations deployed at the border crossings for transparent monitoring of cargo crossing the border in either direction. As usual Russia vehemently refused this offer explaining that these decisions are for the ruling authorities of the regimes in Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia. The Abkhazian and South Ossetian regimes responded to this, in particular Sokhumi de facto president Bagapsh said that he would not allow European customs officers on “his country’s” territory, saying, “EU countries should first of all recognise the independence of Abkhazia before we discuss any issues.”

Moscow expressed its readiness for further cooperation between two countries in its own way. Russia’s chief sanitary officer Genady Onishenko voiced Moscow’s official position stating that Georgian wine will be allowed to return to the Russian market provided it passes strict quality controls. Obviously Russia will not make any great concessions towards Georgia as indicated by the Russian Foreign Minister on March 13 who stated that he believes it is possible for Russia to enter the WTO even if Georgia tries to veto it. He also commented that if the EU and USA are willing for Russia to become a WTO member they should convince Georgia not to obstruct it.