Georgian tycoon criticizes Saakashvili’s compromise on Russia’s WTO bid

Georgia’s acceptance of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization was forced on Tbilisi and is solely beneficial for Moscow, Georgian-born billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili said on Tuesday.

Last week Tbilisi agreed to a compromise proposal from Switzerland concerning Russia’s WTO entry. The Swiss proposal provides for international monitoring of goods crossing the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with Russia. If this condition is satisfied, Georgia will agree to Russia’s WTO entry.

Ivanishvili, who wants to form and head a major political opposition party in Georgia, said President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration only made the decision because of the international pressure it was under.

“It was not in the interests of Georgia or of the Georgian people. It proves that Saakashvili has lost all influence in the international arena. He did it to remain acceptable for them,” Ivanishvili said at a news conference, which was attended by some 200 journalists.

“The fact is that Russia gets WTO membership, while Georgia has no economic relations with it [Russia] at all,” he added.

Russia has been working to join the WTO since 1993. The last remaining obstacle for its entry is Georgia, which has refused to okay Russia’s entry every since the two countries fought a brief war in August 2008, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia in order to bring it back under Tbilisi’s control. After the war, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another ex-Georgian republic, Abkhazia.

In early October, Ivanishvili announced his intention to set up a party and run for parliament in 2012. He also said he plans to create an “objective” media holding in the country.

The Georgian authorities have since revoked Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship, citing his Russian and French passports. Georgia does not allow dual citizenship. Without Georgian citizenship, Ivanishvili cannot set up a political party in Georgia and cannot run for parliament in 2012.


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