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Tbilisi nipped in WTO door2011-10-28 12:45
A short while ago Moscow and Brussels set up final conditions of Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Presently, the only obstacle for Russia's WTO entry is Tbilisi's implacable position.
Yet, it seems European politicians are sick and tired of the fact that rules of the game with a key partner are imposed by the leader of a small Transcaucasian state with a doubtful reputation. The European Union comes up with an ultimatum for Saakashvili to immediately admit Russia into WTO. Otherwise, this will be done in defiance of Georgia's veto.
Bidzina Ivanishvili's political uprise has served as a signal for the West: it makes no more sense to be friends with Avlabari dictator. Thanks to Saakashvili's efforts, Georgia has lost the image of "a beacon of democracy" in the post-Soviet space turning into a constant headache for Europe in all issues connected with Russia. Earlier this fact was not totally acknowledged. Yet, now this is clear from Tbilisi's complete inability to set up a constructive dialogue with Moscow as evidenced by Swiss-mediated fruitless talks over Russia's WTO entry.
Before final conditions of Russia's accession were coordinated with the European Union, politicians in Brussels were not annoyed at Saakashvili's stubbornness. Even French president Nicolas Sarkozy expressed support for the so-called "territorial integrity of Georgia", a trite cliché'.
Things changed drastically after successful bilateral talks between Moscow and Brussels. "We have reached agreement on final issues that needed resolution on both sides opening the way for Russia's WTO entry before the end of this year", - Karel De Gucht, European commissioner for trade, is quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
The talks over, Brussels got irritated with the French leader's jokes. Knowing refusal of Georgian functionaries to meet wishes of European partners, they came to Georgia instead. Gunnar Wiegand, head of the European Commission's administration for Easter Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, came to the capital of Georgia for one purpose - to hand over the ultimatum of the EU: either Georgia agrees to Russia's WTO entry, or Russia will be admitted in mid December as a result of an ordinary vote among all members of the organization and Georgia's veto will be ignored.
After the visit, Georgian political rhetoric changed as if by magic. Yesterday Georgia's deputy FM Sergey Kapanadze stated that Tbilisi is ready to hold talks with Russia. It would not sound sensational (endless bilateral debates have been held in Geneva since March) but for a curious remark. "We are in the final stage now", - The Wall Street Journal quotes the diplomat. Not long ago Mr. Kapanadze complained that one more round of talks with Russia ended in no result. And here we see an overwhelming breakthrough. There is only one explanation of the fact considering that formal talks are not being held now: Tbilisi has finally realized that WTO membership can't be used to discredit Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence. Presently, it is important to mitigate damages for political image of the Avlabari yeller and his sidekicks. Russia's WTO accession without Saakashvili's accord will destroy the legend that the Georgian president is fully supported in the West in his confrontation with Moscow. This fact became evident when all foreign diplomats went to Bidzina Ivanishvili for a visit.