|Georgians Suggest WTO Deal for Russia Is Near|
|October 27, 2011|
By ELLEN BARRY
MOSCOW — Georgian negotiators said on Thursday that they had accepted a Swiss compromise proposal that would clear Russia’s path to join to theWorld Trade Organization in December, bringing an end to an 18-year application process.
But by evening, Russia’s negotiators had not made any comment on the proposal, which creates a system to monitor trade that crosses from Russia into Georgian territory. Talks between Georgia and Russia have been snagging on the issue of monitoring, since Russia recognized two Georgian breakaway territories as sovereign nations and has previously refused to provide information on goods headed there.
Russian officials have accused Georgia of attempting to force Russia to roll back its recognition of the two enclaves, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“The demands our neighbors are putting forward, they do not involve the W.T.O., but another question,” said Arkady Dvorkovich, a top presidential aide, at a business forum on Tuesday. “We cannot meet them and we will never meet them.”
The Georgian deputy foreign minister, Sergi Kapanadze, who leads his country’s delegation to the talks, called the proposal “the final, final, final compromise.” The mechanism would consist of an electronic data exchange system as well as human observers and would be in place at three points along the border.
Among the points of friction has been whether the observers deployed on the border would represent private contractors or public entities, like the European Union or individual governments. He said Georgia decided to accept the current proposal late on Wednesday night, when after several hours of deliberation leaders concluded that “now is the time to say yes.”
“We hope the Russian side is going to agree to it,” Mr. Kapanadze said. “I really, really hope it’s going to work for them. This is an agreement that has everything they’ve asked.”
Russia has the largest economy of any country not in the 153-member trade group, and the World Bank says that as a member, Russia could bolster its annual gross domestic product as much as 11 percent over the long term, though noncompetitive industries might suffer.
The trade group accepts members through a consensus system, meaning that Georgia, which joined in 2000, could block Russia. Although the organization could technically admit Russia through a vote of the majority, that type of accession has occurred only once in the organization’s history.
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