Experts from Russia’s state consumer protection agency, RosPotrebNadzor, are visiting Georgia this week, inspecting wine and mineral producer factories as part of a process which the Georgian government hopes will lead to resumption of export of Georgian wines and mineral waters to Russia.
After President Saakashvili criticized on February 26 Georgian government for hosting Russian officials and accused the representatives from RosPotrebNadzor of being corrupt, head of RosPotrebNadzor Gennady Onishchenko warned he might consider calling off inspection mission.
“[RosPotrebNadzor] delegation has arrived whom the Georgian officials and representatives of wine factories, standing on their back paw pads, are pouring wine to with trembling hands and looking into their eyes to see whether they like it or not,” Saakashvili said, adding that what the Russian functionaries actually want is “couple of kopeck coins to be put into their pockets and they will be very happy; we all know what they are here for”. He also said that such behavior before Russian officials and trying “to please” them was “slave complex”.
On February 27 head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, received the delegation from RosPotrebNadzor in the patriarchate and said that return of Georgian wines and mineral waters to the Russian market “will contribute to normalization of difficult relationships between our countries.”
Also on February 27 Agriculture Minister Davit Kirvalidze said that President Saakashvili’s “insulting” remarks were “irresponsible”, which were posing threat to the Georgian government’s efforts to regain access to the Russian market for the Georgian products – wines and mineral waters on the first stage and agricultural products on the later stage.
The Agriculture Minister called on the President to refrain from creating “artificial obstacles” and added that such moves would be considered as attempts to “thwart” and “sabotage” the process.
The visit of the RosPotrebNadzor officials to Georgia, which will last till Friday, was agreed when Georgian delegation, led by head of the National Wine Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, visited Moscow in early February.
According to the Georgian Wine Association about 80 Georgian wines and spirits producing companies have applied for gaining access to the Russian market.
RosPotrebNadzor ordered ban on import of Georgian wines, mineral waters and other products in 2006 citing consumer safety concerns. Georgia at the time condemned embargo as part of Russia’s attempt to undermine Georgia’s economy.