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WTO: Onishchenko ready to turn into dove of peace

10.03.2011  |  20:47

14446.jpegGeorgia continues hinting at its power over Russia, which is going to join the World Trade Organization. Chairman of the Georgian Parliament David Bakradze stated the republic's readiness to start a "constructive" dialogue with the future member of the world trade association. However, he made an immediate warning that today in Bern, official Tbilisi will definitely raise the issue of customs stations at the borders with the partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In his turn, chief sanitary officer of RF Gennadiy Onishchenko made a hint that the Georgian wines and mineral waters may return to the Russian market. Will Georgia choose


economic upturn or will stick to its principles that may grow into a trade blockade?

Georgia's exultation is understandable. Pondering over the U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden's visit to Moscow, Georgian government hopes that the program of his meetings with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev will imply some time for the talks about the Caucasian republic, its role in the World Trade Organization and economic relations with Russia. Nevertheless, Deputy Foreign Minister Nicoloz Vashakidze has reported that the details of the negotiating process in Bern will remain unaltered: official Tbilisi will demand the recognition of its territorial units.

"All we are asking for in the current situation is to comply with all the WTO rules. Some of them clearly state that the borders and customs stations between the countries should be transparent. Unfortunately, there are two customs stations on the Georgian-Russian border today - I mean those at the border of South and North Ossetia and Abkhazia - that cannot be characterized as transparent", - Vashakidze underlined.

At the end of last year, Georgia PM Nika Gilauri promised that the discrepancies on the partially recognized republics would not become an obstacle on Moscow's way to WTO. However, time goes on and Tbilisi realized that Russia is not apt to make any concessions. Negotiations on the checkpoint at the border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia would mean actual recognition of Georgia's territorial integrity by Russia, which is, of course, absolutely unacceptable so long as Mr. Saakashvili stays in power.

There is still a weighty trump card in Russia's sleeve - an economic embargo imposed on Georgian wines and mineral waters. According to the World Trade Organization's rules, Tbilisi has no right to demand reconsideration of the nuances of the trade between the conflicting countries by Moscow. But even Mikheil Saakashvili perfectly understands that the RF market is the most profitable platform for selling Georgian products. Here comes a serious dilemma: whether to put a joker in the form of a veto on the table or look for another way out?

The entire Georgian parliament was engaged in making the choice. Finally, Head of the Security Council Giga Bokeria joyfully declared that the Georgian government is ready to open WTO doors for Russia, escort it into the world trade association and even forget about the August-2008 events, even if only for a short time, on a single condition that joint customs control should be set up along the entire Georgian-Russian border so as to please both parties.

Besides, the head of the Georgian Security Council actively hinted that the international organizations should assist this "constructive" process. It is clear, though, that Georgia is waiting only for America's support, for there is no hope to get it from OSCE and other European organizations - they've long since given up the situation in the Caucasian republic.

"The practice of communication between the Russian and Georgian authorities gives no grounds for real optimism. But on the other hand, the understanding of the fact that the situation cannot last forever becomes stronger in both capitals. Anyway, an opinion prevails in the Georgian community about the expediency of Russia's presence in WTO, which will let it become more civilized in its communication with other states. The very fact that the Georgian official sources make statements about the allegedly unaltered position makes this round less effective. But I think Russia will make definite proposals about what it is ready to do in respect of Georgia to attain membership in WTO", - economic expert Soso Tsintsadze shared his opinion on the pending negotiations.

However, it is not clear why the Georgian government counts on Americans in advance of negotiations. Washington explained many times that it prefers not to interfere in the two states' affairs, for it has long since settled all the urgent issues with Russia concerning its entrance in WTO. Americans will hardly want to enter into details of a confrontation between Tbilisi and the Kremlin and especially withGennadiy Onishchenko; for them, it's a private issue of no particular importance.


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