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Georgian price for Russian WTO entry

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, November 2
The principal position of the Georgian Government towards Russian entry to the World Trade Organization vanished as soon as it met the resistance of its Western partners and their interests. Many details are not clear about the final stages of the negotiations, yet one can judge that in reality Georgia made the most concessions. However, as usual the Government is trying to keep a good face and expresses its satisfaction about its "victorious position". The Russian side, meanwhile, states that it achieved its goal without many concessions. The final decisions from the Russian side will be known only on November 10.

The main Georgian condition for allowing Russia to accede to the WTO was to be able to control and monitor the turnover of cargo over the legal borders between Russia and Georgia at the separatist controlled segments of the border in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Later, after the 2008 Russian invasion and occupation of Georgian territories this demand was changed and substituted by another, where Georgia agreed to border check points being monitored and controlled by international organizations.

This was the result of the fact that Russia as well as Georgia saw that Georgia’s western friends and allies wanted to allow Russia into the organization and to keep politics out of the issue. Meanwhile both the EU and the US managed to "reset" their positions towards Russia to find their own interests and therefore sacrifice Georgian interests. Tbilisi was informed that despite its refusal, WTO would manage to allow Russia into the organization.

Of course it would have been very awkward for two reasons. First it would put Georgia’s western allies in an awkward position and second, Georgian leadership would also appear to be in a difficult situation. So, little by little, Georgia was forced to modify its demands and-- instead of Georgian custom officers being deployed in the de jure border posts--Georgia agreed to international monitoring and even to the condition that electronic information would be shared with Russia by the international monitors.

Thus, as the Government in Tbilisi keeps assuring its population that the transportation of cargo between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway regions would be controlled and monitored, it will be indirectly acknowledging Georgian sovereignty over these territories by Moscow. The Russian Government insists that this monitoring is a concern between Moscow and International organizations, and does not concern Georgia.

One should remember a precedent—it is known that Georgia met refusal when it wanted to accede to the membership process MAP within NATO in 2008. Later it was granted a "special plan" for accession. Georgia’s leadership hysterically assured the Georgian population that this new "something" would be even better than MAP--however the country is no way closer to NATO. So certainly our authorities are going to try and convince Georgia’s population that the best solution was found due to the diplomatic achievements of Georgians and that Russia’s entry into the WTO will be beneficial for Georgia. Let's see!