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Friday, July 21, 2006

Take that! Georgia Blocks Russia's WTO Access

Kommersant reports (with English editing supplied by La Russophobe):

Georgia’s Right to Close WTO for Russia Duly Confirmed

Georgia may resume negotiations about Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), spokesmen of the latter confirmed yesterday. The withdrawal of the approval that Georgia provided to Russia in 2004 could not be challenged in any courts. This past Friday, Georgia's Economic Development Minister Irakly Chogovadze addressed a letter to his Russian counterpart German Gref in which he suggested resuming negotiations on Russia’s entry into the WTO. Right after that, the lawyers of Russia’s Economic Development Ministry focused on validity of such a withdrawal, as the negotiators’ agreement of May 28, 2004 duly specifies the Georgian approval. But under the WTO regulations, member states may resume negotiations any time till everything has been finally agreed on. To withdraw the approval, Georgia will have only to refuse sealing the report of the working group and the entrance protocol. By doing that, Georgia will make work on the memorandum absolutely impossible, while Russia won’t be able to go to court or challenge the refusal in the WTO, as it is no member or observer of the latter. It is worth mentioning that the letter of Chogovadze didn’t specify the recall of signatures. According to the Georgian minister, the three challenge points are (1) denying the access to checkpoints in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to customs officers of Georgia, (2) closing of Upper Lars checkpoint by Russia and (3) banning the deliveries of Georgian wine to Russia. The issues could be decided only at a personal meeting of two presidents, Chogovadze specified.

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