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WTO: game over, Russia holds the ball2011-11-01 14:38
Georgia seems to be strongly affected by the latest warning from the European Union and agrees to a compromise on Russia's WTO entry. Sakartvelo now suggests that Moscow allow access of international monitors in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order to control trade flows from these Transcaucasian republics. The Russian side is taking time to think. Yet, by all appearances, the long story of boring and monotonous discussions over WTO is over.
The news on Georgia's change of mind was delivered by deputy FM Sergo Kapanadze. The diplomat informed that Tbilisi has "new proposals" within the framework of talks on Russia's WTO entry changing the demand on deployment of Georgian border guards in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for a request to invite international monitors. In addition, both republics shall acquire a neutral status. "The Georgian side hopes that new suggestions will serve as a foundation for progress in the negotiating process. Now, the ball is on Russia's side", - Kapanadze emphasized.
However, these suggestions are not new. Georgia simply agreed to accept Switzerland's compromise proposal to introduce neutral monitoring on borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Tbilisi has been resisting for a long time trying to take the discussion into politics with the use of such terms as "occupation". Apparently, it is good that the West came into play. As we know, last week Tbilisi received Gunnar Wiegand, head of the European Commission's office for Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Caucasus. The guest conveyed a clear message that unless Saakashvili stops hampering Russia's WTO entry, Brussels would resolve the issue without Georgia's involvement. Besides, Tbilisi's request to skip the final round of talks on November 10 was denied.
Making a mental note of the situation, the Georgian president has arrived at right conclusions. It would be a nightmare to quarrel with the European Union. If Europe cuts financial flows to Sakartvelo, Mr. Saakashvili will immediately turn into a political corpse. In the meantime, the West is quite tired of the Georgian leader's arrogance and the noise he makes. The European Commission and Moscow have already settled all disputes over Russia's membership in the organization, including industrial assembly, changes in collection of fees for Transsiberian flights for European air companies and timber exports regime. Both sides are full of decisiveness. "Talks will continue to the end", - Russia's permanent envoy to the EU Vladimir Chizhov stated.
Now that Tbilisi's position is clear, Moscow takes time for reflection. According to Maxim Medvedkov, head of the Russian delegation for the WTO talks, head of the trade negotiation department at the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Russia needs several days to study Georgia's proposals. "Both we and our Georgian neighbors have a possibility to meet and discuss their suggestions, we will take this time to study remaining possibilities", - he said adding that the final talks will be held next week. 'If both sides want to come to terms, there is always a way to do that", - Medvedkov concluded.