Lavrov: Few Concessions Over WTO

Moscow will make few compromises with the European Union in a wood tariffs dispute seen as the final hurdle in the country's bid to join the World Trade Organization, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Lavrov also accused Ukraine of bowing to Western tariff demands to win WTO membership earlier this year.

Kiev accepted "practically all the demands of the European Union and the United States, lowering tariffs and in most cases making those tariffs of a zero character," Lavrov said in a conference call with foreign reporters after the EU-Russia summit in Khanty-Mansiisk.

This created new trade problems between Moscow and Kiev, he said, because goods that are subject to tariffs in Russia now enter the Ukrainian market for free. "But Ukraine wanted this -- I believe for political if not ideological purposes -- and this was their choice," Lavrov said.

He contrasted this with the "negotiated solution" sought by Moscow from the EU on wood tariffs. "We don't believe that all demands should be accepted as such," he said. "We want the conditions for Russia joining WTO to be fair and not to be far beyond the standard conditions on which other countries joined."

Lavrov said the issue was "straightforward" as Russia wanted to get away from a Soviet-era "raw material economy," when Finland bought Soviet timber only to sell it back as furniture at a far higher price.