Deputy FM: Trade Talks with EU 'Difficult'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Feb.'11 / 13:02

Preliminary talks on deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA) are the "most difficult" part of Association Agreement negotiations between Georgia and the EU, Tornike Gordadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said in an interview with Brussels-based EUobserver.com on February 12.

Gordadze, who was appointed on the post of deputy foreign minister last summer, is Georgia’s chief negotiator in talks on Association Agreement with EU.

"We had quite serious preconditions in 2008, which we considered we've fulfilled and even went beyond,” Gordadze was quoted by EUobserver.com. “For instance, we've unilaterally abolished import taxes on 86 percent of the goods from the EU and made progress on food safety and intellectual property rights."

In July, 2010 when Georgia and EU launched Association Agreement, Saakashvili said that he hoped to have deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with EU in two years as a result of Association Agreement talks. But in his annual state of the nation address on February 11, Saakashvili said Georgia’s goal was to have free trade agreement with EU by 2015.
 
Gordadze also said that during talks with European Commission officials in charge of trade, he got the "impression that they have changed the preconditions: Now the ones that were set for concluding the negotiations are the same for starting the negotiations.”
 
“Some people also say the change could be some sort of indirect pressure from the EU to drop our objections in Russia's WTO bid. I hope this is not the case,” Gordadze said.

Georgian officials have said for number of times recently that Tbilisi’s position over Russia’s WTO entry remained unchanged. Georgia says that it is not against of Russia's WTO entry, but under the condition that Moscow makes border crossing points in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia “transparent”.

“We still do not see much will from Russia to reach out to us,” Saakashvili told Reuters in October, 2010. "We are ready for serious, meaningful talks about the issues but we have certain issues that cannot be overlooked and cannot be overcome by neglect.”

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