Georgian officials reiterated ahead of expected talks in Bern over Russia’s WTO entry terms that Tbilisi’s position over the issue remains “unchanged” and it would insist on providing “transparency” of border crossing points in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgian Prime Minister’s senior aide, Tamar Kovziridze, who is Georgia’s long-time chief negotiator over WTO issues, is due to arrive in Bern on March 9 from the United States, where she was accompanying PM Nika Gilauri, PM’s spokesperson, Nikoloz Mchedlishvili, told Civil.ge on Wednesday.
A senior Georgian lawmaker from the ruling party said on March 9, that the planned talks in Bern would not involve “substantive issues”, instead it would focus on drafting an agenda and schedule of further negotiations.
Georgian President’s spokesperson, Manana Manjgaladze, said on March 8 that Georgia’s position on terms of Russia’s WTO accession remained “unchanged.”
“List of issues based on which we are going into talks remain unchanged… First of all it concerns transparency on the border crossing points at Psou [Abkhazia] and Roki [South Ossetia] and securing access of the Georgian customs services to the Psou and Roki border crossing points. These proposals and position remain unchanged,” she said.
Speaking at a parliamentary session on March 9 MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and of the parliamentary minority, called on the authorities to adhere “neither too tough, nor too yielding position” during the talks.
He said that Georgia’s initial demand to deploy Georgian customs officers on the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sections of border with Russia would be “unrealistic”.
MP Targamadze instead called on the authorities to push for EU Border Assistance Mission, similar to the one across the Moldovan-Ukrainian border.
MP Petre Tsiskarishvili of the ruling party and leader of the parliamentary majority said at the parliamentary session on March 9, that Georgia “should not make any concessions.”
“It is premature to speak about compromises now. The talks in Bern will be about drawing up a schedule and agenda of negotiations and it will not focus on substantive issues,” MP Tsiskarishvili said.
A White House official said on March 4, that Russia-Georgia WTO talks was a bilateral issue in which the U.S. was not involved. “I think the leadership in Tbilisi understands that they want to find a cooperative solution to this issue to deal specifically with the economic and trade issues that are involved here, and not make it a bigger debate,” Michael McFaul, the U.S. President’s special assistant and National Security Council’s senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs, said.