Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, said on October 25, that there were “alarming reports” that the Obama administration “is leaning on Georgia” to drop its objection to Russia’s WTO membership.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation’s event called the Risks of the Reset, John Boehner, the Ohio Republican, said that Russia-Georgia WTO-related stalemate should be resolved “in a manner that respects the territorial integrity of Georgia.”
“Then and only then will there be any movement on WTO question worth considering,” Boehner said. President Saakashvili was the first foreign dignitary whom Boehner met in his capacity of the House Speaker in January, 2011.
Georgia says that so far there has not been a breakthrough in the Swiss-mediated talks with Russia over WTO entry terms because Moscow refuses to allow measure required for “full transparency” of trade across the disputed borders with Russia in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
White House: U.S. remains "unwavering" in its commitments to Georgia
National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said in response that the Obama administration “remains unwavering in its commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity."
"We have made clear, both in private channels and in public statements, that the United States will not support Russia’s WTO accession until Russia and Georgia reach agreement on their outstanding trade-related issues,” The Associated Press reported quoting Vietor.
Also on October 25, after the House Speaker's remarks, the U.S Department of States' spokesperson said that the issue of Georgia and its territorial integrity was in the center of the U.S. dialogue with Russia "at every level."
"We recognize its [Georgia's] sovereignty, its territorial integrity. We’ve been absolutely clear with Russia about that. This is an area where we have disagreement. As we always said with regard to reset, we will cooperate and work together where we can, but we will also be absolutely clear where we disagree," Victoria Nuland, the Department of States' spokesperson, said.
Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, said on October 24, that Georgia was not pressed by its Western partners to give a green light to Russia’s WTO membership.
“The international community understands very well that Georgia’s demands are legitimate,” Kalandadze said.
Last week two U.S. Republican senators urged the Obama administration to fully consider interests of Georgia before endorsing Russia’s WTO membership. In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Senators Roy Blunt and James Inhofe say: “It should not come as any surprise that Georgian leaders are insisting on maintaining at least some semblance of territorial integrity through the customs process.”
“Without such recognition, agreeing to Russian WTO accession could be considered tantamount to international ratification of a new border arrangement imposed by Russia through force of arms. We fail to see how this outcome could possibly be in the United States’ national interest,” the Senators’ letter reads.