Russia will be able to join the World Trade Organization no sooner than in 2006, said EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy.
"This is not my wish and forecast, this is my feeling," Mr. Lamy told a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
Last Friday Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref and Pascal Lamy signed the Russia-EU protocol on the completion of bilateral negotiations on Russia's accession to the WTO.
"So, Russia has made two-thirds of the way to the WTO but it is necessary to conclude a number of important bilateral agreements with the USA, China and Japan," Pascal Lamy noted.
Moreover, a lot is to be done at the level of the working group on WTO accession, he added.
For instance, China concluded the first important bilateral agreement with the US in November 1999 and joined the organization only in December 2001, Mr. Lamy said.
In the final agreement with Russia the European Union gave up several original conditions, for instance, the demand to cancel Gazprom's export monopoly. However, this issue is not directly connected with WTO demands, Pascal Lamy added.
Meanwhile, he hopes that other countries will be able to obtain certain concessions from Russia.
"I believe we made a good agreement on the services market but if the US manages to improve it I will eventually be the gainer by it. It's all in the game," the trade commissioner said.
Speaking about the agreements with Russia in bank and telecommunications sectors, Mr. Lamy said, "All we have achieved is classified information." "We did not get the permission to open bank branches. The Central Bank is merely not ready for this, at least, in the sphere of management," he noted.
"As for telecommunications, we've got free access to the Russian market although the negotiations were difficult," Pascal Lamy said.
The difference between the West and the two mighty allies in the East - Russia and China - is enormous. In fact, it is not a difference, but an outright contrast