The Russian Ministry of Foreign Ministry (MFA) said on November 10 that WTO deal with Georgia was a success for all the parties and “an important step in right direction by Tbilisi.”
“We deem it as a huge success for all the parties participating in the negotiations. We express our sincere appreciation towards the Swiss Confederation, which has not only efficiently contributed to develop the agreement, but also agreed to continue facilitate implementation of already reached agreements between Russia and Georgia,” Alexander Lukashevich, the Russian foreign ministry's spokesman, said.
He said that the signed agreement would go into force as soon as Russia joins WTO.
He said that the agreement “fully meets tasks, which were pursued by the Russian side from the very beginning.”
“In particular, the agreements should stay solely in frames of the trade issues without infringing status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and also to foster normalization of trade relations in the region,” Lukashevich said.
“Finalizing of this agreement is an important step by Tbilisi in right direction. We hope, that it will become a milestone on the path of gradual normalization of trade and political relations in the region and will facilitate strengthening of peace and stability in the Trans Caucasus,” he said.
According to the deal observers from a private company will be stationed at the both ends of so called "trade corridors", but not inside of these corridors, meaning that they will not be stationed inside the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgian officials say, that trade corridors, which will be defined by their geographic coordinates not by names, lie through breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The monitoring will also involve Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point, which is on the undisputed section of the Georgian-Russian border, outside the breakaway regions.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that the package of agreement signed on November 9 involves three documents.
The first is a bilateral agreement between the governments of Georgia and Russia “on the basic principles for a mechanism of customs administration and monitoring of trade in goods.”
“Second, as foreseen in the agreement, relevant Memoranda of Understanding were signed to affirm the role of the Government of the Swiss Confederation as the neutral third Party, who among other responsibilities, selects and mandates international monitors and to whom the monitors will be accountable,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.
“Third, all three parties, Georgia, Russia and Switzerland, exchanged documents to define the terms of reference for an internationally established neutral private company, which will be accountable to and mandated by the Government of Switzerland in the conduct of monitoring. The Terms of Reference provides for the conditions of a permissive environment for international monitoring. The terms of reference, inter alia, establishes that no monitor can be a citizen of Russia or Georgia and provides for the freedom of movement of the monitors in the implementation of their mandate,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.
It also said: “With this package of documents, Georgia and Russia have agreed to establish a mechanism of customs administration and monitoring of trade in goods consisting of an International Monitoring System (IMS) and an Electronic Data Exchange System (EDES).”
“The IMS provides for the physical presence of international monitors during checking of documentation and records at all customs procedures, during physical examination of goods and checking of suspicious cargo. The monitors will also oversee that electronic seals and GPS/GPRS tracking systems are placed on all trade cargo. The EDES provides a common electronic data exchange platform, giving access to information on all customs and trade transactions to international monitors and allowing them through advanced cargo information to conduct risk management and auditing.”
The Georgian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that this agreement “will open opportunities for Russia to approach other difficulties in our bilateral relations based on principles of international law and to engage in negotiations allowing the generation of mutually beneficial solutions.”
President Saakashvili said on November 10, that during the WTO talks with Russia, Georgia had not compromised on key principle issues and Tbilisi got “what we wanted” – the unified trade regime at all three border crossing points between Russia and Georgia, including at the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sections of the border.
Speaking at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in Batumi, Saakashvili said that WTO deal with Russia was Georgia’s diplomatic victory because it was paving way for the international monitoring of trade on the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sections of the border. He also said that it was not Georgia’s goal to resolve de-occupation issue in WTO talks, because it was purely trade-related issue.
“This is purely technical issue… But we’ve got everything that was possible in frames of [WTO talks],” he said, adding that Georgia would address other problematic issues with Russia in other forums in order to peacefully achieve eventual goal, which is restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity.
“That’s our eventual goal and we make no secret about it and nothing can stop it,” Saakashvili said.
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