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The European Union completed talks with Russia on the latter’s accession to the World Trade Organization. The EU announced it had lifted its claims to Russia. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes that WTO member-states may get along without Georgia’s approval as concerns Russia’s accession to the organization. Moscow expressed confidence that Tbilisi puts forward not trading, but political claims.
A long-lasting story of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization may end up despite Georgia’s protests, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. At least, Moscow expressed such an opinion. The EU announced that it lifted its claims to Russia.
The daily recalled that the next round of Russian-Georgian talks on WTO yielded no results. Another meeting will take place in several days. Georgia’s main demand is deployment of international observers as customs officers on the borders of Russia with Abkhazia and South Ossetia protected by Russian border guards.
Despite formal inefficiency of all rounds of the negotiations with Switzerland’s mediation the issue of trade has been practically resolved, Kommersant wrote. Until November 2, when an agenda of the WTO ministerial meeting due on December 15-17 (this very meeting may finalize Russia’s accession), Russia and Georgia have to decide on the issue of foreign policy. The main point at issue at the Russian-Georgian talks is control over goods movement on the border of Russia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia considers these enclaves independent states, while Georgia – their own territory.
Some experts pay attention to the fact that amid the talks with Russia the Georgian government took a decision on IPOs of the Georgia International Oil and Gas Corporation and the Georgian Railway (25-30 percent) at the London Stock Exchange. The share packages are estimated in Georgia at $1-1.5 billion. In theory, possible participation of Russian investors in their acquisition (in particular, Gazprom has repeatedly announced its interest in buying assets in the oil and gas group that owns the Georgian section of Russia-Georgia-Armenia pipeline) may be eyed as the cost of a compromise for Russia’s WTO accession.