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COLUMNIST: Russia and the WTO

Russia and the WTO

by Ethan S. Burger

Original to La Russophobe

Ethan Burger

In 2002, at a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, as part of a panel a U.S. government official gave a presentation praising all the new legislation Russia was enacting. He suggested that “western technical” assistance in the legal area was having a real impact in the country. The next speaker was a Russian law professor who specializes in anti-corruption and human rights matters. He began his remarks with the comment that while he enjoyed the prior’s speaker’s remarks, it was unfortunate that he was describing a country that did not exist.

Russia is now seeking entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). It should not be allowed to join this body until it enforces its own domestic laws, amends its restrictive foreign investment laws, and observes its existing international obligations. Russia has a poor record in applying the 1959 U.N. Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards. Its does uphold its obligations under, or follow the standards and guidelines of, arising from its membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Cyber attacks on Estonia and Britain has arisen from its territory (arguably NATO should have responded). It foreign policy to a great extent seems aimed “reset” Europe to the Cold War era (although it has apparently privatized or contracted out formally state activities. Russia is not so powerful that it should not be challenged for its aggressive actions.

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