Russian Press on Tbilisi, Moscow WTO Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 May.'11 / 13:53

In talks over Russia’s WTO entry terms, Georgian and Russian negotiators are “seriously discussing” a mechanism that would provide transparency of movement of goods via border-crossing points in Abkhazia and South Ossetia without presence there of Georgia customs officials, Russian daily, Kommersant, reported on May 4.

Citing unnamed Russian diplomatic source, the Kommersant reported that one of the options could be providing the Georgian side with information on movement of goods across the Russian border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two breakaway regions which Moscow recognized as independent states following the August, 2008 war with Georgia.

The Russian daily, Izvestia, reported also on May 4, that the sides might agree on satellite surveillance of the border-crossing points to give Tbilisi access to the information on movement of goods across the border. “It’s no longer important whose idea it was; important is that Tbilisi is not against,” Izvestia wrote.

Georgian negotiator Sergi Kapanadze, who is deputy foreign minister, told on May 3, that there was one topic discussed in talks and that’s the issue of border crossing points in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and how to make those points operate in line with WTO rules.

He said, that there were several possible options put forth on the negotiating table to secure that objective, but declined to discuss them citing an agreement with the Russian side not to speak about the details to the press amid ongoing negotiations.

Michael McFaul, the U.S. President’s special assistant and National Security Council’s senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs, said on April 15, that “a creative solution” should be found to the dispute by providing transparency of border crossing points in the breakaway regions without putting there Georgian customs officials.

There have been suggestions in Tbilisi to offer Moscow “a compromise solution” involving deployment of EU monitors on the border with Russia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia – the solution modeled under the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM). The Russian daily, Kommersant, however, reported in March, citing an unnamed high ranking official from the Russian Foreign Ministry, that this option was not realistic.

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