08TBILISI720, GEORGIA FREEZES NEGOTIATIONS WITH RUSSIA ON WTO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI720 2008-04-30 13:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2091
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0720 1211357
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301357Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9364
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000720 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC AND EEB/TPP/MTA 
STATE PASS USTR FOR PAUL BURKHEAD AND CECILIA KLEIN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2018 
TAGS: ETRD PREL WTO USTR GG RU
SUBJECT: GEORGIA FREEZES NEGOTIATIONS WITH RUSSIA ON WTO 
MEMBERSHIP 
 
REF: TBILISI 343 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) On April 28 the GOG issued a statement to the members 
of the working party on the accession of the Russian 
Federation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) wherein it 
announced that it is temporarily halting its bilateral 
negotiations with Russia until Russia rescinds the 
instructions issued by President Putin on April 16 to 
"interact" with the de facto regimes in Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia, "including organizing cooperation in the trade, 
economic, social and techno-scientific fields." 
 
2. (C) Up to now, the Georgians have insisted that only one 
issue must be resolved with Russia, that is an agreement on 
the application of Georgian law to the presently unauthorized 
border crossing points between Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
The Georgians have told us that the Russian side had agreed 
in principle to the establishment of Georgian checkpoints 
there in a proposal put forth in Geneva in February by the 
Russian Ministry of Trade.  Although that fact was later 
denied by the Russian MFA in a press statement, the Georgians 
have showed us the Russian proposal in writing (reftel).  Up 
to April 16, the Georgian side was working with the Russians 
to elaborate that agreement, especially as regards the status 
and safety of Georgian officials who might be stationed on 
the border. 
 
3. (C) The Georgians now are insisting in their statement 
that Russia has an obligation under GATT article X to publish 
trade related rules.  The Russians have not yet revealed the 
actual text of Putin's instructions, providing only a 
statement from the Russian MFA that gives the gist of them. 
They also contend that special new rules for South Ossetia 
and Abkhazia violate WTO obligations to treat all parts of 
Georgian customs territory equally.  It is difficult to 
evaluate to what extent Putin's instructions comply with GATT 
article X and XXIV until they are made public.  The GOG also 
notes that any special treatment of Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia, as part of Georgia, will have to be extended to the 
United States and other WTO member states, which they say is 
of systemic concern to all WTO members. 
 
4. (C) The same day Russia issued a statement by its 
delegation to the WTO working party that it does not consider 
it necessary to notify the new rules to the WTO and that the 
MFA's April 16 statement is sufficient for all purposes.  It 
expressed its willingness to continue the bilateral 
negotiations with the Georgians. 
 
5. (C) Georgia's acting Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, 
has approached the Ambassador seeking USG support for its 
position in this matter.  We suggest that Russia should make 
clear the substance of Putin's instructions and any changes 
to its trade regime, or any of its policies toward South 
Ossetia and Abkhazia, for that matter -- whether or not they 
are required to do so by the GATT.  The latter point we leave 
to WTO experts.  The WTO Secretariat has made it clear that 
Georgia is within its rights to insist on a resolution of the 
border crossing issue, and to withhold its assent to the 
accession process moving to the multilateral phase until that 
is accomplished.  We believe the Georgians' concern that the 
vague intentions expressed in the April 16 MFA statement 
could seriously complicate its trade relationship with Russia 
in general, and the border crossing issue in particular, 
merit serious consideration.  A temporary halt to the 
bilateral negotiations would seem to be reasonable and 
justifiable in that light. 
TEFFT

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