Finance Minister: Georgia could delay Russia's accession to WTO
Tbilisi's position of not supporting Moscow's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) could delay Russia's accession to the global trade body, the finance minister said Monday, RIA Novosti reported.
"Real work [to join the WTO] began in 2000. At that time I was head of a governmental commission to deal with WTO ascension... The key stage was in 2004 when we signed an agreement with the EU," Alexei Kudrin told the Russia Today TV channel.
"It really seemed then that we had covered more than half the ground. Then, in 2006, we signed an agreement with the United States, and it seemed to us we had covered 90% of the way," he said.
"However, every time something hindered entry. In my view, political reasons did. Last time it was Georgia that dampened our relations with the U.S., when we could not solve even a purely technical issue with the U.S.," Kudrin said.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour following a war between the two former Soviet countries in August 2008.
On October 1, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama confirmed in a telephone conversation that bilateral talks on Russia's admission to the WTO are complete.
"Now, thanks to the agreement between Obama and Medvedev, and their fixing the deadline, we have achieved positive results in our bilateral relations. It appears to me that should this political will remain, everything is possible," Kudrin said.
Although the average WTO accession period is five to seven years, Russia has been seeking membership for 17 years and is the only major economy outside the global trade body.
Medvedev has admitted that the country still has problems with the protection of intellectual property rights, a major impediment to WTO accession, but says tackling this issue is a priority for the Russian government.