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Russia Says WTO Deal Reached with Georgia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Nov.'11 / 10:35

Russian chief negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, said late on November 2, that Moscow had reached an agreement with Georgia in the Swiss-mediated talks over Moscow's WTO entry terms.

Initial reports as carried by the Russian news agencies gave little details of the deal, but later reports suggest that the deal seems to be based on the proposals tabled by the Swiss mediators and accepted by Georgia last week.

Itar-Tass news agency reported quoting Medvedkov that the agreed draft of bilateral agreement “is based on a concept proposed by us and is not going beyond the limits of Russia's principled position.”

“It is in line with the realities existing in the region and does not contravene WTO norms,” he said, adding that according to the agreement a private company will be invited to audit trade, results of which Georgia and Russia should send to WTO's database. A private company, he said, would also help customs officers from Russia and Georgia in certain issues of customs administration.

In separate remarks to The Associated Press, Medvedkov gave more details and listed components of the deal, which were part of the Swiss proposals accepted by Georgia last week.

He said a neutral company will conduct customs checks on all trade between Georgia and Russia and also trade between Russia and breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
 
“It will cover our trade which goes from Russia to Georgia directly,” Medvedkov said. “It will cover also trade which goes from Russia to Georgia and vice versa through Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And also trade which leaves Russian customs territory but is not coming to Georgian customs territory.”

In addition, an independent company will audit data on trade between the countries, he said.

Georgia has yet to react on Russia’s announcement. Georgian negotiators, who left for Geneva late on November 2, are expected to meet with Russian counterparts on Thursday.

Georgian negotiators say that according to the deal a private company, which will monitor trade, should be contracted by Switzerland. Observers from a private company will be deployed 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. 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.

Sergi Kapanadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister and one of the negotiators, said just before departure to Geneva, that all the technical details and procedures for signing of the bilateral agreement with Russia should be finalized before November 10.

WTO's working party on Russia will meet informally on November 7-8, which is expected to be followed by a formal meeting of the working party on November 9-10.

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