Georgian, Swiss presidents to discuss Russia’s WTO membership

Georgia’s conditions for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be revealed after a meeting between the presidents of Georgia and Switzerland on Monday, the Georgian foreign minister said.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili will meet with his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey on Monday afternoon in the Georgian port of Batumi.

Russia has been in membership talks with the 153-nation WTO for 17 years and remains the only major economy still outside the organization. The approval of all member states is needed before any country can be admitted and Georgia has yet to acquiesce.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry announced last week that Georgia has agreed to a compromise deal proposed by Switzerland, a mediator in talks between the two former Soviet neighbors which cut diplomatic ties after a five-day war in 2008.

“It’s too early to speak about the details of the agreement. The most important thing is that Georgia did its best to give Russia a chance to become a WTO member. Georgia made numerous compromises to form its position and a final document acceptable to Russia,” Georgian Foreign Minister Nino Kalanadze said.

“Georgia’s main demand is to end differentiation between the occupied and non-occupied parts of Georgia,” she said, referring to the two former Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as independent states.

Kalanadze said the document contains the previously announced demand for a neutral monitor to oversee the transportation of goods across borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“The form in which monitoring will be carried out will be known later, but our main principle should be taken into account in any case,” Kalanadze said.

Russia insists that Georgia’s demands have nothing to do with trade and are not within the WTO’s jurisdiction.

A decision on Russia’s accession to the global trade body will be made at a WTO ministerial meeting on December 15, Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich, said earlier on Monday.

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