Russia has failed to remove the one remaining obstacle on its path to joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) after Georgia refused to give its approval for Russia's accession, Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday.
Russia is expected to hold a new round of talks with Georgia in late May.
"We still insist on the legalization of (Georgian) customs posts at the Abkhazian and South Ossetian border. However, the Russian side is so far refusing to agree to our demands. The only thing we have agreed is to hold a third round in late May," Niko Mchedlishvili, press secretary of the Georgian prime minister, told the paper.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour since a five-day war between the two former Soviet countries in August 2008, which began when Georgian forces attacked the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent states two weeks after the conflict. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.
Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze claimed however that during the talks in April the Russian side agreed for the first time to discuss details and technical possibilities for restoring Georgian customs controls on the Psou River at the border with Abkhazia and in the Roksky tunnel in South Ossetia.
"The negotiations between Georgian and Russia have entered a stage of practical discussions. During the second round, the two sides started discussing some specific issues. I would refrain from any comment but the parties started considering very serious proposals," Kalandadze said.
Moscow and Tbilisi have refused to comment on the details of their negotiations. However, a Russian diplomatic source told the paper that both sides were discussing a scheme which would help avoid the presence of Georgian customs officers at the borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia and at the same time allow Georgia to get information on goods crossing these two republics.
A Georgian Foreign Ministry source told the paper that the sole possible compromise for Tbilisi would be the presence of European Union representatives at the border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia to control the turnover of goods.
Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, however, have previously repeatedly said that this option is unacceptable for them.
Russia has been in membership talks with the 153-nation WTO for 17 years and remains the only major economy still outside the organization. The European Union gave its formal backing to the country's entry bid in December last year after Russia agreed to trim timber export duties and rail freight tariffs.
MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti)