Tbilisi has suspended bilateral talks with Russia over its membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), until Russia reverses its decision on establishing legal links with breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“Unless Russia reverses its instructions on legalizing links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia will not return to the negotiations table,” Tamar Kovziridze, the Georgian deputy economy minister, told the Georgian Public Broadcaster via phone on April 29. “This is our new position, which is based on the new realities.”
Prior to Russia’s decision to establish legal links with the two breakaway regions, Tbilisi claimed that it would agree to Russia’s WTO accession if trade at two border crossing points - one in breakaway South Ossetia (Roki Tunnel) and another in breakaway Abkhazia (Gantiadi) - were legalised.
President Saakashvili said in February that Russia and Georgia had reached a preliminary agreement on opening joint customs checkpoints at the borders between Russia and breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow, however, denied having reached any agreement, saying that it would depend on the position of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.