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Georgia Accepts Swiss WTO Proposal, Russia Needs Time to Respond
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 27 Oct.'11 / 20:01

Georgian negotiator said on Thursday that Tbilisi has accepted the most recent compromise proposal tabled by the Swiss mediators in talks over Russia’s WTO entry terms.

Russia's top WTO negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, said Moscow would require several days to elaborate its position on the Swiss proposal.

“We will be able to make a response next week,” Itar-Tass news agency reported quoting Medvedkov.

Sergi Kapanadze, the deputy foreign minister and Georgian negotiator, said that the Georgian side came to Geneva for the Swiss-mediated talks with Russia earlier this week with “new proposal.”

“This proposal still envisaged international monitoring of trade and electronic data exchange system. The difference [in Georgia’s new proposal] was only in forms of international monitoring,” Kapanadze told Civil.ge via phone from Geneva on Thursday evening. He declined to elaborate details of exactly what was changed in the Georgian side’s proposal.

He said that the Swiss mediators tabled “a compromise proposal” on October 26 on which Georgia had agreed.

Kapanadze says that this compromise proposal still envisages two basic components, which Georgia believes are important for transparent trade across the disputed borders – international monitoring and electronic data exchange.

He said that according to the proposal international observers will be deployed on the both ends of “trade corridors” – areas that will be defined by their geographic coordinates not by names in an attempt to keep a status-neutral approach. He declined at this stage to provide details about location of “trade corridors”.

Kapanadze expressed hope that Russia would accept the proposal too that would pave the way for its WTO membership.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by phone with Swiss President and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on October 27 to discuss WTO-related talks with Georgia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a brief press release.

Also on October 27 Stefan Johannesson, chairman of working party on Russia’s WTO accession, said that the working party would hold its final formal session on November 10-11 to complete the process.

Negotiations on the accession of a new member to WTO are held within a working group, uniting countries that have unsettled trade issues with a candidate country.

Ambassador Johannesson of Iceland informed the working party members that informal session of the working party would be held on November 7-8 to prepare for the final formal session at which all remaining differences are expected to be resolved.

Georgia, however, says that it can block the formal meeting of the working party if no deal is achieved in the Swiss-mediated talks with Russia.

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