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Georgia's foreign minister said on Russian radio Thursday that he does not rule out his country could veto Russia's accession to WTO
Georgia's foreign minister said on Russian radio Thursday that he does not rule out his country could veto Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Russia, the largest economy outside the world's leading trade body, has completed bilateral talks with 57 of the 60-member Working Party on its WTO bid. Negotiations are continuing with the U.S., Moldova and Georgia. "Georgia has the right to veto Russia's accession to the WTO," Gela Bezhuashvili told Ekho Moskvy. Georgia and Russia have been entangled in a diplomatic feud that erupted with the arrests of Russian officers on spying charges in September. Tensions had already been strained over Russia's ban on the import of Georgian mineral water and wine, and disputes over Georgia's conflict zones. Bezhuashvili said, "We can use this lever, but we want to resolve issues constructively. We told our Russian colleagues that this is not a political issue, it's an issue of implementing your standards in the World Trade Organization." The Georgian minister said a bilateral agreement was reached in 2004, in line with which Russia undertook commitments to legalize all customs checkpoints and fight counterfeit products, but that "Russia is fighting counterfeits using the wrong methods." Since the spying row began, Russia has cut transport and mail links to Georgia, cracked down on businesses allegedly related to the Georgian mafia in the country, and deported hundreds of Georgians accused of residing in Russia illegally. However, the minister said, "Georgia does not pursue any anti-Russian policy regarding Russia's accession to the WTO." "It is in our interests for Russia to abide by the rules of international trade, and to be a WTO member. We are not blocking multilateral talks with Russia, but during these talks, we will note the trade problems Russia has with the WTO," Bezhuashvili said.
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