Moscow and Tbilisi are trying “to draw positions closer” in talks over Russia’s WTO bid, Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said on March 14.
She denied Moscow’s claims that terms pushed by Tbilisi in exchange for its consent over Russia’s WTO membership were “politicized”.
“We are demanding nothing special,” Kalandadze said, adding that Georgia “is in no way” mixing political issues with the trade while dealing with Russia’s WTO entry terms.
“We are maximally constructive in the ongoing dialogue. We try to have a helpful position. At the same time it is our principle position to secure interests of Georgia,” she said at a news conference.
“We are talking exclusively about legal and technical issues,” she said, but declined to go further into details saying that talks are at initial stage.
“The first meeting, which was held [in Bern on March 10], aimed at maximum rapprochement of the positions. Right now there are attempts from the both sides to draw the positions closer,” Kalandadze said.
Commenting on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks made on March 13, that in case of failure to agree with Tbilisi Moscow would seek to become WTO member bypassing Georgia’s consent, Kalandadze said “theoretically” such a scenario was possible.
“Theoretically there is such a possibility from the legal point of view… But there have not been such a precedent and I will be very surprised if WTO allows this precedent to happen,” she said, adding that such a precedent would be “very strange”.
Decisions on accession to the organization are taken by the WTO’s Ministerial Conference, which meets at least once every two years, or by the General Council, which meets usually once every six to eight weeks.
According to article 12 of the WTO Agreement decisions on the term of individual accession are to be approved by a two-thirds majority of WTO’s 153 members.
But the article 9 says, that the organization’s practice is to arrive at decisions by consensus and that a vote is only taken when it’s impossible to reach a consensus.
In 1995 WTO’s General Council decided that the consensus-based decision-making should take precedence, instead of a vote. But voting still remains an option if a consensus can not be reached.
The voting, however, remains technically complicated because of absence of smaller delegations from the General Council meetings making it difficult to secure a two-thirds majority necessary for approval of decision on accession.