Georgia ties Russia’s WTO bid to monitors deal

Georgia has said it will drop its resistance to Russia’s bid for membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if Moscow agrees to stationing international monitors near Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day over South Ossetia in 2008. Fighting broke out when Georgian forces attacked Souh Ossetia in a bid to bring it under control.

Speaking during a news briefing in Tbilisi on Monday, Georgia’s deputy foreign minister said a fresh round of talks on Russia’s WTO bid would be held on Tuesday.

“The main problem is that Russia opposes Georgia’s proposal to jointly monitor the Russian-Georgian border with international observers,” Nino Kalandadze said. “This is our principal demand.”

Kalandadze said previous talks had yielded “no results.”

Russia is the last major economy outside of the global free trade club. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said all outstanding issues regarding the country’s WTO accession had been settled.

Georgia’s opposition is the final barrier, and Russia needs to solve this before a WTO summit on December 15.

Karel de Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, has called on Georgia to drop opposition.

“There is now very little time left to reach a bilateral agreement between Georgia and Russia. I call on both parties to continue their efforts to find a solution in a spirit of compromise,” The Financial Times quoted de Gucht as saying last week.

In televised comments last week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country would “survive” if it didn’t get WTO membership.


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