GEO / RUS       12+

Russia in WTO - USA FOR and Georgia AGAINST

Russian Federation plans to enter WTO in the nearest 10 month. Moscow is sure that after the successful negotiations with USA it will accomplish at least the 17-years epopee and will join WTO, consolidation of 150 countries.

The Washington's consent to Russia's membership and EU's upholding, was so exciting for Russians that they forget about the simple reality - any country has a veto right to WTO membership. By logic the WTO way for Russia lays through Tbilisi.

The Georgian government demands resolution of several questions in the frames of Russia's WTO membership, among them - illegal customs check points at the Georgian-Russian border - "Gantiadi-Adler" and "Roki - Qvemo Zaramagi". Georgia demands its legalizing and proper functioning.

Formally Moscow and Tbilisi in connection with the Russia's WTO membership accomplished the negotiations long before. Tbilisi even signed an agreement about the absence of disagreements. This was an official consent to the Russia's WTO membership. Nevertheless, after the 2008 August events Georgia made a withdrawal of this document, and made a statement about its own demands. Without fulfillment of these demands Georgia refused to give consent for membership. Some time ago Georgia presented to Russia a document were the demands of Georgian side are stated in details.

"Georgian position is based on the bilateral agreement of 2004 on Russia's membership to WTO. According to it, Russia is obliged to speed up the "customs regulations for better trade turnover, to abolish the problems concerning administration in this area," - the document reads. Possibly in the Kremlin they believe that Georgia has no right to make political pretensions against Russia's WTO membership. The Russian Foreign Ministry declared that in the Caucasus now the new realities are, accordingly they are sure that Abkhazia and S.O. are independent entities and as a result, they believe Tbilisi cannot make pretensions about these customs check points. But posing such question Russia inwardly will make politicized this question, as the occupation in no way is not an economic question. What about the Georgian side approach to this question, it can be said that Tbilisi even before 2008 declared that banning Russia from WTO membership is not an aim for Georgia. We will agree with Russia's WTO membership if 2004 agreement obligations will be fulfilled and the customs check points will be legalized. The position of Georgia is quite technical and nonpolitical."

Now in the circumstances of the relationships cardinal change between Moscow and Tbilisi, the Georgia's position to this question remains unchanged. Manana Manjgaladze, Press spokeswoman said to GHN that this is a final unchangeable position of Georgian government and President.

"The position of Georgian state is unchanged; Georgia will not uphold Russia in WTO membership until the conditions will not be fulfilled which are stated by Georgian government. This question touches issue of customs check points and a range of those questions which exist between Russia and Georgia, "- Press Spokeswoman said.

Not saying about anything else, if in the politics still is some kind of morality, then no USA and not any other country are not to restrain to the Georgia's political will, and as well they are not to put any pressure in this respect.

On the surface, the official Moscow is not concerned with position of Georgia. It declared on the background of accomplished negotiations with USA that in 10 month will became a WTO member.

"The negotiations in Washington were very hard. However after it all troubles overcome, "- Alexey Kudrion, Russian Foreign Minister said. He said the last procedures for the membership of Moscow to WTO will start in 2-4 month. They will be accomplished in half a year. So in 10 month Russia will became a WTO member."

After the negotiations with Washington the Russian media disseminated the information as if "Medvediev thanked the government representatives for the work carried out in this respect and ordered them to arrange the technical details of the agreement reached." According to the Russian officials, Russian media constantly disseminates the information that Georgia is not any more in the group for Russia's WTO membership and cannot block unilaterally the decision.

Simultaneously Georgian strategic partner - USA welcomes the membership of Georgia to WTO. Washington upholds Russia in WTO membership.

"The membership of Russia in WTO is beneficial for Russia and for USA, this is useful for every one, "- Obama said taking floor in Chamber Trade and Commerce, that sitting attended business representatives of USA and Russia.

After this declaration the Georgian high ranks in the Economic Ministry declared to GHN that Georgian side is against Russia's WTO membership as before. As well fact is that Russia will not become a WTO member without Georgia. "Georgia's demands for customs check point's joint control and embargo issues are the same for Russia's membership question."

For ordinary people it was a bit difficult to understand decision of Obama in connection with development of democracy in the world: "The WTO membership will oblige Russia to fulfill democracy obligations. He noted that the membership of Russia will promote the defense of the rule of law, improvement of corporative ruling, transparency and will be an impulse for a democratic norms defense."

Seems like the above mentioned declaration and the official Washington's position caused a little misunderstanding in Tbilisi. No surprise that in the background of strained relations of Russia with Georgia, Georgia has a minimal power for pressure over Russia. Before such declaration of Washington in Tbilisi is was believed that in the due time this minimal power of Georgia will be used appropriately, and Tbilisi was as well relied upon White House as on the partner as well the EU.

Tbilisi checked once more the position of USA in this respect at Gordon Brown's Office. He noted again that USA is interested in Russia's WTO membership, and for USA economy it is very important. As well this is important for Russia and WTO itself. What about Georgia, Brown declined from any political estimation and did not mentioned that such membership is forcing Russia to obey rules.

But this is positive for Georgia as well as Russia will be under the obligation to fulfill international norms and to leave the occupied territories. Brown as well accented that economic questions are important. And again he did not avoid double meaning phrases: "it is necessary to decide questions jointly which are touching Russian economic sphere, and are concerned with Georgian wine, mineral waters and other products embargo.

The double meaning one - the Russia's membership to WTO is advantageous for USA, because this will be prosperous for the democracy ‘there'. This is a political question. And Georgia has only the economic disagreements with Russia and this is to be decided "jointly". Would be nice if Mr. Gordon Brown would give detailed information, which have to take a phone first and call: Medvediev to Saakashvili or Saakashvili to Medvediev? Or maybe the USA administration is not aware that Russian government is not going to hold talks with Saakashvili? Not because Saakashvili is much taller than Medvediev, but because Medvediev is a head of a state with nuclear weapon and has occupied 20 % of Georgian territories, and would not refuse to take other 80 %.

It is true, after this declaration of Brown some experts said .that this questions "Georgian questions" were already agreed between Medvediev and White House, and the case was decided in favor of Georgia. But this is a dream only. The negotiations are over, but nobody mentioned Georgia, even in political coulisses.

It was made clear that the Russia's WTO membership is important for USA economy. The weight of political decision is known only for the State Department. Nevertheless what about the Georgian economy and political situation, in this respect the strategic partner USA does not looks like a partner at all. Moreover, the Moscow being in calm state said that Russia is not holding the negotiations with Georgia on WTO membership. Consequently Tbilisi cannot block the question. Russia has negotiations with 52 countries for the supply of products to the market, allowance of services Russia has with 28 countries, and agriculture questions are agreed with 50 members. Georgian side is not included in negotiations in no direction, and as well cannot influence the decision.

For Russia as well for any other country it is important to have USA guaranties and also UK's support. The idea of creation of such organization firstly emerged in 1944, USA and UK founded it. At the same period on the Brenton Woods Conference the IMF (International Monetary Fund) was founded and EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). It is clear that at this stage the membership of Russia is advantageous not only for USA but for many other countries, this is an opportunity for cheep market for selling own production for buying cheap raw materials. .It is true that Russia has several questions to agree with EU, but mutual interests are so high, less probable some of them would come into disagreements.

In such situation for a range of the states the interests of the tax payers (to set aside the political mercantile interests) are above the interests of Georgia. Moreover, at the time when no war is waged and it is the time for peaceful making money.

No wander if Georgia has no economic benefits from Russia it naturally will be against membership. And maybe in such circumstances still the membership of Russia to WTO will be only a perspective.

Gocha Mirtskhulava, GHN