08TBILISI343, GEORGIA AND RUSSIA CONTINUE NEGOTIATIONS TO BREAK

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI343 2008-02-29 14:01 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1316
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0343 0601401
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291401Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8971
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 000343 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC, EEB/TPP/MTA, EUR/RUS 
COMMERCE FOR DANICA STARKS 
STATE PASS USTR FOR PAUL BURKHEAD AND CECILIA KLEIN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD PREL WTO USTR GG RU
SUBJECT: GEORGIA AND RUSSIA CONTINUE NEGOTIATIONS TO BREAK 
IMPASSE ON WTO MEMBERSHIP; NEW BIT A POSSIBILITY 
 
REF: 07 TBILISI 3098 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: Econoff met with Deputy Minister of 
Economic Development Tamara Kovsiridze on February 26. 
Kovsiridze said  an agreement has been reached in principle 
with the Russians to allow Georgian officials to staff border 
crossings between Russia and Georgia's breakaway regions of 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  The border crossing issue has 
been the only point of disagreement preventing the Georgians 
from finalizing their bilateral agreement with Russia to 
allow Russia's accession to the WTO to move into the 
multilateral negotiations phase.  However, because of adamant 
refusal by the Abkhaz and South Ossetian de facto governments 
to allow Georgians to operate in those regions to monitor and 
check the transit of goods, people and potentially dangerous 
materials, the GOG insists on a Georgian presence at the 
checkpoints -- with international monitoring, similar to EU 
involvement on the Moldova-Ukraine border.  Unfortunately, 
the Russian MFA issued a press release on February 27, 
stating that no agreement on the border crossings will be 
made without consent of the de facto authorities in Abkhazia 
and South Ossetia.   Kovsiridze also said the Ministry of 
Economic Development has reviewed the new-style U.S. 
Bilateral Investment Treaty model and would be willing to 
discuss signing it during President Saakashvili's visit to 
the United States in March.  End Summary. 
 
RUSSIA/WTO 
---------- 
 
2. (SBU) Kovsiridze said that she had met with Russian 
negotiators in Geneva on February 19.  Although the Russians 
have been insisting that the border crossing issue is a 
"political" one, and not a WTO issue, the Secretariat has 
been pushing them to negotiate with the Georgians to keep the 
accession process moving forward.  The February 19 meeting 
was arranged by the Secretariat, Kovsiridze said. 
 
3. (SBU) In November, Georgia presented the Russians with a 
set of principles for resolving the border crossing issue 
(reftel).  Kovsiridze confirmed what Georgian newspapers have 
reported, that an "agreement in principle" with the Russians 
has been reached to allow the Georgians to establish a 
presence by its officials -- in Georgian territory -- at the 
Russian border in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia.  The reports 
were immediately denounced by the Abkhaz and South Ossetian 
de facto governments, who swore they would never allow such a 
thing.  Thus, the Russian agreement offers less than meets 
the eye, since it leaves implementation up to the Georgians 
on what is their sovereign territory, but which they do not 
control.  Therefore, Kovsiridze said, the Georgians are 
insisting on some kind of additional international presence 
at the border crossings, similar to EU-supervised 
arrangements on the Moldova-Ukraine border.  The GOG is 
already asking the EU to consider the idea.  The Georgians 
and the Russians will meet again in early April for further 
discussions. 
 
4. (SBU) At the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry has 
denied that its negotiators in Geneva made any concessions on 
the point.  In a February 27 press release, the Russian MFA 
declared that "joint customs control at the Ganitadi-Adler 
border crossing point (in Abkhazia) and at Roki (in South 
Ossetia) depends on the reolution of the Georgian-Abkhaz and 
Georgian Ossetian conflicts and on the consent of Sokhumi and 
Tskinvali."  If that is the case, the Georgia-Russia 
 
SIPDIS 
discussions remain as dealocked as ever. 
 
BIT SIGNING BY MARCH? 
--------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Kovsiridze said that the USG has presented the 
Georgian Embassy in Washington with the newest style 
Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and suggested that it might 
be signed as a deliverable during President Saakashvili's 
visit to Washington in March.  She said that the text has 
been reviewed by Ministry of Economic Development officials 
and they have not raised any major concerns with it.  She 
added that it seems to track other BITs the Georgians have 
with other countries.  She guesses it could be approved by 
the GOG for signature rather quickly.  We understand from the 
Department that while the text of the BIT may not be 
difficult to negotiate, consideration of the Annex of 
excepted sectors would require time to negotiate and it is 
probably not realistic to expect a signature in March in 
Washington. 
TEFFT

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