Russia is considering lifting the six year old embargo on Georgian wine. (DFWatch photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — Moscow is ready to consider allowing Georgian wine back onto the Russian market.

Andrei Denisov, First Deputy Foreign Minister, said on Wednesday that there is a willingness on both sides to study the issue.

“If we talk about specific cases, it is about a return of Georgian wine in our market,” Ria Novosti quotes him saying.

Meanwhile, Davit Kirvalidze, Georgia’s Agriculture Minister, on Wednesday said that negotiations about bringing Georgian wine back into the Russian market will start in the near future.

The minister remarked that the negotiations may last two or three months, but there is no need to hurry. What is important is that the negotiations are irreversible.

Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s Special Representative regarding Russia-Georgia Relations, a new post set up by the prime minister, will chair the negotiations.

The agriculture minister said that the wine quality will undergo a process of detailed verification.

Gennady Onishchenko, the chief state sanitary doctor of Russia said in mid September that CPS is ready to open the Russian market for Georgian wines, if he receives a guarantee and will be able to send experts to check the wineries of Georgia.

That’s why now Georgia claims quality will be guaranteed.

In 2006 Russia closed market for Georgia, which stopped export of wine to northern neighbor. Georgian wine was prohibited in Russia. The reason reported then was conclusion of the consumer protection agency CPS (Rospotrebnadzor), according to which Georgian wine did not live up to health safety standards.

Currently Georgia exports wine to about 50 countries abroad.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishivli said during the election campaign that he would mend relations with Russia. Now government officials claim it will be hard to restore diplomatic relations, and impossible as long there are Russian embassies in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia; however they claim the parties can start with lighter issues like economy and culture and restore the export of wine to Russia, where Georgian wine used to be very popular.

Before the embargo was enforced in 2006, about 75 percent of Georgia’s wine export went to Russia. According to official statistics, Georgia exported wine in amount of USD 80 million in 2005, while in 2007 this figure was reduced to USD 29 million (2.4 percent of all the export).

But the wine export increased over the years and in 2001 amounted to USD 54 million (2.5 percent of the whole export), according to the Georgian Statistics Department. Currently the top partner country in regards to wine export is Ukraine, which imports wine worth USD 22.5 million per year.