Georgia talks to ease Russia WTO entry 'fail': Tbilisi

8th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Swiss-mediated talks between foes Georgia and Russia aimed at removing one of the last barriers to Moscow's entry to the World Trade Organisation have "failed", a Georgian official said on Saturday.

"The talks have failed. An agreement has not been reached," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze told AFP after attending the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland.

Tbilisi has been demanding international monitoring of border crossings in the Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which were recognised as independent states by Moscow after the Georgia-Russia war in 2008 but are regarded by Georgia as parts of its sovereign territory.

Kapanadze said that a Swiss proposal involving "monitoring of trade corridors by international observers" had been agreed by Georgia but rejected by Russia.

"If Russia's position remains unchanged, I see no reason to convene the next round of negotiations," he said.

But he added that if the Swiss mediators believed that more talks were necessary, "Georgia is ready to continue the negotiations".

Ex-Soviet Georgia's conditions for agreeing to allow neighbour Russia to join the global trade body have threatened to derail Moscow's efforts to finally become a member.

As a WTO member, Georgia has the right to veto any new entrant and Tbilisi has been keen to use one of its few levers of international influence amid its continuing disputes with Moscow.

Russia, which opened negotiations to join in 1993, is the largest economy in the world to remain outside the WTO.

© 2011 AFP

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