The Multilateralist

What will Georgia demand?

Yesterday’s Washington Post featured an optimistic take on Russia’s integration into the world financial and economic system. First comes membership in the World Trade Organization, which has been under negotiation for 17 years. Russia is expected to join the global economic club within a matter of months after resolving lingering economic issues with the United ...

Yesterday’s Washington Post featured an optimistic take on Russia’s integration into the world financial and economic system.

First comes membership in the World Trade Organization, which has been under negotiation for 17 years. Russia is expected to join the global economic club within a matter of months after resolving lingering economic issues with the United States, high among them clamping down on piracy and enforcing intellectual property rights.

All signs do point to progress on Russia’s WTO bid, Putin’s recent muttering about new auto tariffs aside. Last month, the United States announced that its major concerns about Russian accession had been allayed. "Russia belongs in the WTO," President Obama said in June.

There is one pint-sized obstacle to Moscow finally getting a seat at the table: Georgia. WTO rules make accession a consensus process, which means that, in theory, all members have a veto. Georgia is relishing its moment of leverage — and the opportunity it affords to paint Russia as a mere aspirant to civilized clubs. "In principle, we are in favor of Russia joining the WTO — anything which would bring Russia closer to a civilized community of the world," a Georgian official said recently.

Nobody expects that Georgia will be able to block Russia, but the question is: what concessions will it extract in return for acquiescing? Recently, Georgian politicians have linked Moscow’s bid to progress on borders and customs. It seems more likely that Washington, Brussels and others eager to have Russia in the club will sweeten the pot somehow for Georgia.

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola