Trend European Desk Commentator Elmira Tariverdiyeva
The issue of Russia's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), despite the optimistic statements by Russian officials, has not been fully resolved yet. This process went beyond the purely economic plane long ago and moved to the political plane. It significantly reduces the chances of Russia to join the organization. Tbilisi's position plays a major but not a decisive role.
"We support Russia's accession to the WTO only with one condition. It is necessary for all the WTO rules to be fulfilled. A part of those rules is for the border checkpoints between the two countries to be transparent," Nika Gilauri, Georgian Prime Minister, said an interview with CNBC in Washington.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Gilauri said that Tbilisi does not bind the demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia with Russia's accession to the WTO. He said that this is a "single issue". It has nothing to do with the WTO.
It seems that Georgia's position is not a disturbing factor for Russia. In early October, the Kremlin announced about the completion of the U.S-Russian bilateral negotiations on WTO accession and that the accession process will be completed in the nearest months.
The completion of Russian-U.S bilateral talks is an important action of Moscow on its way to the WTO, because much depends on the U.S position. The United States are the last member of the organization, which holds the bilateral negotiations on Russia's accession. Other participating countries, having no objections concerning a new participant's joining the WTO, decide inessential issues at multilateral negotiations.
But in fact there was no information on the date of signing U.S-Russian protocol on completion of negotiations in the statements of representatives of the U.S administration.
One can not expect it in the nearest future. The Congressional elections will be held in the United States soon. The protocols on the completion of the U.S-Russian negotiations are unlikely to be passed during the voting till early November. A vivid example of the cautious attitude of Congressmen to such operations with Moscow is the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which has not been ratified by the Congress yet.
Today, Democrats, representing the majority in the Congress, are simply afraid to vote for the results of a "reset" of the U.S-Russian relations. They fear that this will reduce the chances of their party to be admitted in the Congress during the elections in November. Today, the society votes for Republicans and their foreign policy different from the current one. This means that after the elections when the Republicans have majority in the Congress, there will be less chances to ratify the protocol on completion of the U.S-Russian negotiations on the WTO than now.
Moreover, the U.S Republican Party will try to expand the country's foreign policy in the direction of the "zone of privileged interests" of Russia - post Soviet sphere. Here, Georgia's desire to win the opportunity to prevent Moscow's accession to the WTO will have a negative impact on Russia's accession to this organization.
Today, Georgia promises not to let Russia enter a trade organization, if Russia does not allow Georgian border guards to enter the self-proclaimed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Although, perhaps, the Georgian side would be able to reap greater benefits from Russia's accession to the WTO. At present, it is important for Tbilisi to restore trade relations with Moscow. It would significantly improve the economic situation in the republic. An ideal compromise for the two countries would be Georgia's consent with Russia's accession to the WTO in exchange for the opening of the Russian market for Georgian products.
Moreover, such giants of Russian business, as Lukoil, Beeline, and VTB-24 Bank have their interests in Georgia.
On the other hand, one must understand that Tbilisi will fail to play the possible blocking of Russia's joining WTO for a long time.
If the U.S. and Europe settle disagreement over the supply of chicken meat, subsidies and export taxes on timber and intellectual property, the West will just press on Georgia. The country will have to agree to Russia's entry without any preferences.