Georgian wine’s fault20.04.2009 | 14:24
It is not clear in Tbilisi why Russia's Chief Sanitation Officer Gennady Onishenko "is teasing" Georgian winemakers. Maybe it's pointless to feel annoyed? A better thing is to ask the country's government to turn its face to the north and all will be all right...
At the press conference on Wednesday Gennady Onishenko could not even imagine that the words he had casually dropped would have a ready response in the hearts of Georgian winemakers. The head of Federal Service on Consumer Protection and Human Well-being (RosPotrebNadzor) was simply reporting on the state of health of his compatriots. Onishenko did not omit alcohol addiction of Russians with 2.5 million people suffering from it according to the Federal service data. And if the doctor started to speak about alcohol consumers he couldn't keep silent about the quality of drinks.
According to him now there is illegal Moldovan wine in the Russian market imported to Russia via Belarus. It will be remembered that in 2006 the control authority banned import of Georgian and Moldovan wines because of high content of pesticides. Later some Moldovan companies submitted their product samples to expertise and were permitted to sell wines in Russia. But as is obvious the outsiders did not calm down either. "We have all the reasons to suspect that wine and wine materials of unauthorized manufacturers from Moldova are being imported through Belarus. - Gennady Onishenko stated at the press conference. - We also reasonably suspect the reexport of wines and wine materials from the regions under categorical Russian ban on the import of wine products is carried out via Belarus", - ITAR TASS reported.
The head of RosPotrebNadzor described the procedure those who want to sell in Russia must go through. A company must submit documents, obtain a permit for expertise and then present its product samples to the investigators.
At that very moment a journalist took this instruction as a hint at suspended negotiations between Onishenko and Georgian winemakers asking whether the shipments of Georgian wine to Russia were possible in the nearest future. It will be remembered that early this year several Georgian companies and the Ministry of Agriculture addressed RosPotrebNadzor. Best Georgian wines were submitted to Russian experts for approbation. Gennady Grigoryevich remarked that the topic was still open and it could be considered "under certain conditions". Onishenko meant secure wine manufacturing control that can be ensured only with the normal functioning of state authority and access of Russian experts to the Georgian companies.
"The conditions" in Georgia haven't improved. The opposition protests are perfect evidence. That is why the head of RosPotrebNadzor replied that for now imports from there were not quite possible. "Why do you ask me about the return of Georgian wine when there is even no embassy? - Interfax quoted his emotional statement. "I can't go there for this will please certain people in that region, I can't send any RosPotrebNadzor officer there for there are no safety guarantees we had during our trips to Moldova, even the first step is impossible", - Onishenko remarked.
Tbilisian comments arrived immediately. Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli did not get why Onishenko had touched upon this topic if there were no negotiations now. "Russia was the initiator to break the relations and we have no levers of influence, that is why such statements from them are not clear", - Kommersant radio quotes.
Georgian winemakers who sent sunny drink bottles to Gennady Grigoryevich "have forgotten about Onishenko's existence at all" and don't wait for him to reply. In Kindzmarauli Wine Cellar Company it was specified with annoyance to the radio observer that the head of RosPotrebNadzor couldn't be trusted as none of his statements had been followed by real actions. However the managers are quite frank saying that the substitution of the Russian market for other markets is a long and complicated process involving significant financial expenses. "Although the interest to the Georgian wines in the European and other markets is growing each day they can't be an alternative to the Russian market any way", - the company states.
Georgian winemakers' longing for Russian wine lovers is understood. Before the import ban Georgia's annual exports to Russia amounted to 40 mln bottles of wine with 20 mln going to other countries. Now its overall export figure is a bit higher than 12 mln bottles.
In order to save winemakers and winegrowers the decaying agriculture of Georgia is relying on the government should have undertaken to settle relations with Moscow or at least not spoil them by regular insinuations against the northern state. Indeed, it is Georgians who need the Russian market most. Russians hardly noticed the lack of Georgian wines with such a variety of Chilean, French, Moldovan and other brands on their counters. And as for RosPotrebNadzor they have a "task from God" (not Dionysus of course) to guard the quality of imported alcohol.