Announcing a deal with Russia on its term to join the World Trade Organization, EU trade commissioner called on Tbilisi and Moscow to resolve thier WTO-related dispute soon.
"We have struck a deal on the final outstanding bilateral issues, leaving the way open for Russia to join the WTO by the end of this year", Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, said on October 21.
"There is now very little time left to reach a bilateral agreement between Georgia and Russia. I call on both parties to continue their efforts to find a solution in a spirit of compromise. The EU is ready to offer whatever help is necessary to resolve the issue," he added.
Georgia said the last round of the Swiss-mediated talks with Russia on October 20 failed to bring any progress as Moscow was still resisting to accept measures necessary for "full transparency of trade across the disputed borders in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The next round of talks are planned for early next week.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, again suggested on October 21, that there was a way for Russia to join WTO without Georgia's green light.
“Following strictly the WTO’s documents, Georgia’s position is not an obstacle. There are ways to act so that our trade obligations towards all the WTO members do not apply to Georgia,” Lavrov said in an interview with three Russian radio stations.
Lavrov said for several times this year that WTO procedures allowed for an aspirant country to join the organization through vote. The U.S. officials have said for number of times, that Washington was not in favor of resolving the issue through vote at WTO and instead have been calling on the both sides to reach an agreement through negotiations. Michael McFaul, a top White House adviser on Russian policy, who has been nominated as U.S. ambassador to Moscow, said on October 12, that there was no way for Russia "to go around Georgia" over WTO.
U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, told Reuters Insider on October 21, that Washington was committed to work with both Russia and Georgia over thier WTO-related dispute.
"But we're doing so as an honest broker. That is an issue for Russia and Georgia to find common ground so we can move forward," Kirk said. He also said that the U.S. had resolved "most" of its bilateral issues with Russia.
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