Georgia considerably increases wine supplies to Turkey - PM
by Tengiz Pachkoria

ITAR-TASS News Agency
May 6, 2006 Saturday 10:18 AM EST

Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said Georgia would considerably increase
its wine supplies to Turkey.

Nogaideli and Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen reached an agreement
to this effect in Batumi on Saturday.

"I know that Georgian wines are one of the best wines in the world.

As of today their supplies have been small, but I hope that Georgia
will considerably increase its wine supplies to Turkey," the Turkish
minister said after the meeting.

Nogaideli told journalists he had discussed with Tuzmen "a series of
important issues related to trade and economic relations between the
two countries, including measures to increase Georgian wine supplies
to Turkey."

Nogaideli and Tuzmen also attended a ceremony to begin the construction
of an international airport in Batumi. Georgian President Mikhail
Saakashavili also took part in the ceremony.

Turkey ranks the first among Georgia's partners. Georgia's foreign
trade accounts for 15 percent of trade with Turkey.

Sale of more than 1,000 litres of Moldovan and Georgian brandies
and wines has been halted in Moscow as a result of the inspection
conducted by the federal consumer rights protection service's Moscow
department in 19 stores.

Russian consumer rights' watchdog has no grounds for lifting the ban
from the import of Georgian and Moldovan wines, at least for the time
being, chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko said.

"We are keeping under permanent control all imported alcohol
products. All wines, not only those from Armenia, Abkhazia and
Azerbaijan, but also from Russia, are tested," he said in an interview
on the Mayak radio station last Wednesday.

"Violations of sanitary norms are found in all wines, including
Russia-made ones. We have problems with some batches of wine from
Russia, Chile, Argentina and some other countries," he said.

In his comments on the results of tests of Moldovan and Georgian
wines by a French independent laboratory, he said, "These tests from
the point of view of control are not of interest to us." "Moreover,
when we got wine samples for preliminary control, they matched all
standards. But when we took alcoholic beverages from retail companies
for tests, violations were found."

"If these tests have been conducted and the French are ready to
have these wines, they are welcome. This is of no importance for our
national control," he said.

Rospotrebnadzor imposed the temporary ban on the import of wine
and wine products from Georgia and Moldova on March 27, as they
do not comply with Russia's sanitary and epidemiological norms and
requirements.

Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burdzhanadze described the ban on
the imports of Georgian products slapped by Russia as "an attempt of
political and economic pressure".

"We regard Russia's decisions to ban the imports of crop production,
wines -- and now the Borjomi mineral water -- as Moscow's attempt to
put political and economic pressure on Tbilisi," Burdzhanadze told
reporters. "Russia's decisions are assuming the character of economic
embargo against Georgia."

The Georgian Glass and Mineral Waters, the leading producer of Borjomi,
released a report on Thursday, according to which Russia has accounted
for some 50 percent of Borjomi imports.

According to company representatives, "the mineral water from the
Borjomi valley is certified in accordance with the toughest European
requirements and meets them."

Deliveries of Borjomi to Russia stopped from Friday.

Meanwhile, the mineral water of Georgian origin is still on sale at
Moscow supermarkets.

The water is available at the Ramstor and Perekryostok stores, and
a number of drugstores, and many retail outlets have not received
instructions so far to take Borjomi off their shelves.

On Thursday, chief sanitary officer Gennady Onishchenko urged head
of the Federal Customs Service Alexander Zherikhov to take measures
to stop the sale of Borjomi because of its poor quality.

In the course of the checks the Rospotrebnadzor Federal Service for
the Protection of Consumer Rights and Human Welfare has run pursuant
to the resolution on "tighter control over the production and sale
of mineral and drinking water," it revealed numerous facts of sale
to the population of table water that did not meet the established
indicators of quality and safety while its labels did not confirm to
mandatory requirements for the information for consumers.

As of May 3, 2006, the Borjomi mineral water of Georgian origin made
up the bulk of the samples that showed negative results.

Rospotrebnadzor's Moscow department reported that of the 69 Borjomi
samples analysed in April, and 68 /or 98.6 percent/ failed the
quality test.

Tests have revealed that 56 batches of inspected Borjomi containing
a total of 19,553 liters fail to conform, in various combinations,
to the established requirements for organoleptic indicators, ionic
composition, and safety norms (permanganate oxidation and fluorine
content).