President Saakashvili said on November 3, that WTO deal with Russia was “a diplomatic victory”, because for the first time after losing control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia in early 1990s, Tbilisi would be able to gain access to information about movement of cargo at those sections of border.
According to the Swiss-mediated deal between Russia and Georgia, a private company hired by Switzerland will monitor trade at the three border crossing points – two of them in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and third one in Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point at undisputed section of Russian-Georgian border.
Saakashvili said that initially Russia was strongly against of any kind of international monitoring of trade; later Russia offered monitoring only on undisputed sections of the border, outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said, adding that Tbilisi had immediately rejected both of these proposals. Saakashvili said that at the later stage of talks Russia agreed to subject to international monitoring only the cargo moving from Russia into Georgia via the breakaway regions, but not the cargo whose final destination was inside the breakaway regions.
“There were five or six variations of this proposal, but we have rejected all of them in recent months. In overall there were total of about ten proposals, rejected by the Georgian side,” Saakashvili said.
Eventually, he continued, the sides agreed on a proposal developed with the help of the Swiss mediators. According to this proposal, Saakashvili said, the Swiss side, “which acts on behalf of the international community”, would hire “internationally certified monitors” from a private company, who will report before the Swiss side and the latter will share the information with Georgia.
“For the first time since 1992-1993 we have achieved a situation wherein we will receive with the facilitation of international monitors in permanent regime information about all the cargo entering into the Georgian sovereign territory,” Saakashvili said, adding that these observers “will be accountable before the third party and this third party [Switzerland] will be obliged to provide this information to us.”
“I believe that this is our diplomatic victory. Of course our eventual diplomatic and any other kind of victory will be when our customs service will be deployed on this side of the border [referring to Abkhaz and South Ossetian sections of border with Russia]… We will all achieve this,” Saakashvili said.
“But what we achieved today is the first important affirmation what represents Georgia’s customs borders,” he said.
He said that Georgia would not have resolved the issue of territorial integrity through these WTO-related talks; he also said that the eventual deal was also important from the security point of view.
“We will know what kind of cargo is moving there and it has not only economic, but also a huge security importance,” Saakashvili said.
He also said that international monitoring was something on which Georgia would not have compromised in talks with Russia.
“I think that our [Western] partners have also realized it very well, that Georgia was not going to make even one step back from this very principle position regardless of whatever one might have said,” Saakashvili added.
He made the remarks standing in front of Georgia’s map in the yard of his house in Kvareli. On the map he was explaining where the monitors from a private company would be stationed to monitor trade.