Saturday, 29 October 2011

EU demands Georgia let Russia into WTO

Russia is knocking at the door of the World Trade Organization (WTO) like never before, but American opponents are rocking the boat as Europe puts pressure on Georgia to accept Russia.

Europe came on side in a deal on Friday and is now lobbying Tbilisi to back down from its veto and accept Moscow’s bid to join. Russia is currently the only major economy not in the WTO.But while the US is on board for now strong voices of dissent are coming from Congress. Of the 153 countries in the WTO it takes just one to black ball Russia’s bid and Tbilisi has made it clear that Russia must drop its recognition of sovereignty for Abkhazia and South Ossetia if it wants to join the WTO club, egged on by some in Washington.

Gunnar Wiegand, EU top diplomat for Russia and Central Asia, met with Georgian counterparts Tuesday and told them that Georgia needs to toe the line and fast, the Wall Street Journal reported.

If the Georgians drag their feet then the EU would table an exemption in the WTO rule book, allowing Russia in by majority rather than by unanimous vote, a huge loss of face for Tbilisi.

But dissent could still come from other corners. John Boehner, Republican house speaker, is threatening to block Russia WTO legislation and calling for the much vaunted Russia-US reset to go on ice until Moscow cleans up its human rights act and recognizes the “territorial independence” of next door Georgia, he said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, Bloomberg reported.

Brussels is currently drawing up formal plans for Russia to join the WTO between March and June next year.

Nor did the Democrat Oval Office give the Russians must cause for optimism. “The Obama administration remains unwavering in its commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement, WSJ reported.

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