THE GUUAM GROUP: HISTORY AND PRINCIPLES
GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group was formally founded as a political, economic and strategic alliance designed to strengthen the independence and sovereignty of these former Soviet Union republics.
During the five years of cooperation GUUAM group became an important structure, which looking to enhance regional economic cooperation through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor. It has also become a forum for discussion on various levels of existing security problems, promoting conflict resolution and the elimination of other risks and threats.
Cooperation among delegations of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine started in 1996 in Vienna, Austria, at the CFE Treaty Conference, where four states issued joint statements and proposed common initiatives.
On October 10, 1997, the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine met in Strasbourg during summit of the Council of Europe and stated their mutual interest in developing bilateral and regional cooperation, European and regional security, political and economic contacts.
In the Joint Communiqué issued, the Presidents stressed the importance of the four nations cooperation in establishing a Eurasian, Trans-Caucasus transportation corridor (TRACECA), and underscored the importance of strengthening the four-lateral cooperation “for the sake of a stable and secure Europe guided by the principles of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of state frontiers, mutual respect, cooperation, democracy, supremacy of law and respect for human rights.” The leaders of the countries agreed to undertake joint efforts in order to overcome the difficulties that Europe faces on the threshold of the 21st century.
On April 24, 1999, GUUAM was enlarged by one more member – Uzbekistan, who joined the group at GUUAM summit, which was held during NATO/EAPC Summit in Washington D.C., on April 23-25, 1999.
On September 6, 2000, at the meeting in New York in connection with the UN Millennium Summit, the Presidents of GUUAM countries pledged to intensify multilateral cooperation within the framework of GUUAM by giving it a multilevel character. To this aim, it was deemed expedient to convene regular summits at the level of Heads of State at least once a year, and meetings at the level of Ministers for Foreign Affairs at least twice a year. The Committee of National Coordinators (CNC) shall hold regular sessions on a quarterly basis.
To foster favorable conditions conducive to economic growth among the participating states, mutually beneficial trade relations, and implementing complex multilateral programs and projects in the fields of production, commerce, energy, transport, the economy, international credit and financial cooperation, border, customs and fiscal services, communications, science, technology education and culture, direct contacts between different state bodies and departments of the respective agencies of the GUUAM Group Member States will be established.
There are joint decision of GUUAM states to promote development and improvement, at different levels, of mechanisms of multilateral cooperation in the framework of GUUAM, including at the level of the executive and legislative branches, business circles, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations and mass media.
GUUAM countries also agreed to strengthen and improve the mechanisms of consultations and coordination of actions within the framework of international organizations, and to promote actively the practice of joint statements at various levels
POLITICAL COOPERATION PLEDGED
In November, 1997, as a result of consultations of the deputy foreign ministers a joint protocol was signed in Baku, Azerbaijan. In particular, understandings were reached among the four states to continue close cooperation in the following fields: political interaction and cooperation; interaction in the field of peaceful settlement of conflicts and cooperation in combating separatism; cooperation in the field of peacekeeping activities; cooperation in the field of development of a Eurasian Transcaucasian transport corridor; and interaction within the framework of processes of integration to Euro-Atlantic and European structures of security and cooperation.
Inherent in the latter two missions was a pledge to assist each other in implementation of concrete projects in the field of production and transportation of oil and gas, and the establishment of a special partnership and dialogue with NATO on issues of mutual interest. The essential part of cooperation will be the security of the Eurasian corridor where the GUAM Group and Central Asian Group have great possibilities for interaction.
Member-States also pledged to work for peaceful settlement of regional conflicts on the basis of principles of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of all states.
These countries also pledged to adhere to combating aggressive nationalism, separatism and international terrorism, while continuing their interaction in peacekeeping and other missions with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as NATO (Partnership for Peace), the Council of Europe, the Joint Consultative Group of States-Parties to the CFE Treaty, and WEU.
On its last meeting in Cishinau, Republic of Moldova, on October 23, 2000, the Committee of National Coordinators (CNC) has approved GUUAM Action Plan for 2000-2001.
JOINT EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF ENERGY PRODUCTION
In October, 1998, the chief delegates of the GUAM countries, who participated in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Annual Meeting met at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington D.C., and issued a joint statement announcing the four countries’ determination to work together on four goals: (1) to minimize the effect of the Russian financial crisis on their countries; (2) to support each other against “growing challenges to regional security and stability;” (3) to cooperate with each other and international partners in the Europe-South Caucasus-Central Asia transit corridor project; and (4) to jointly lobby for accelerated development of Caspian oil deposits and the construction of multiple pipelines directly to international markets.
The four states confirmed their commitment to the continuation of economic reforms aimed at developing democratic societies, free markets and the active integration of their countries into the global economy. The participants also noted the importance of quadrilateral cooperation in creating the Eurasian Transportation Corridor, not only as a means of extending economic cooperation, but also as an important factor of strengthening economic and political sovereignty of the states involved.
Special importance was attached to settling all issues related to the development of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea region and creation of a multiple pipeline transportation system to world markets. Participants at the meeting also stressed that continuing conflicts present a serious obstacle to regional cooperation, and voiced concern over the increasing occurrence of acts of terror and violence which are aimed not only against individuals, but also threaten the entire world community – and therefore should be treated as crimes against humanity. Heads of the four delegations confirmed their willingness to work together with all states and international organizations, including the OSCE, to address these matters.
SUPPORTS SOVEREIGNTY AND TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY
In January, 1999, Ministers of Defense of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine met in Baku to exchange of views on security issues. The ministers discussed current questions of international and regional security, and confirmed their attachment to the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. They underlined the importance of working within the framework of international structures such as the United Nations, the OSCE and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, as well as further coordination of efforts in adapting the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
The Ministers also expressed the view that it is important to develop cooperation through joint exercises, consultations, conferences of a scientific and practical nature, the training of cadres, and the establishment of fraternal, friendly ties among military academies, formations and units.
OPPOSES ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
In April, 1999, during the NATO 50th Anniversary celebration, the Group met and welcomed Uzbekistan as the fifth member of GUUAM. The Presidents of these countries reiterated some of their previous statements, including a pledge to seek peaceful settlement of conflicts and crises on the basis of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of internationally recognized borders, and independence of states. They also pledged to apply joint efforts to fight ethnic intolerance, separatism, religious extremism and terrorism. Concerning the latter, the Presidents expressed their “deep concern” with the increased number of acts of terrorism and violence which “represent a serious threat not only to individual persons and states, but to the whole world community.”
The GUUAM Presidents renewed their pledge to develop interaction within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, and “to deepen practical cooperation with the aim to strengthen peacekeeping capability upon the relevant legal basis.” They also pledged to undertake joint actions to strengthen regimes of non-proliferation of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction, as well as to prevent arms transfer to conflict zones.”
Finally, the GUUAM Presidents renewed their pledge of cooperation in developing a Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor on the basis of the results of the International Conference on the Restoration of the Historic Silk Road held in Baku in September, 1998.
The Presidents also noted that cooperation within the GUUAM is not directed against third countries or a group of countries, and membership is open to any country which subscribes to the fundamental principles and goals of the GUUAM Group.
COOPERATION IN THE FIELD OF SECURITY
As a follow up to the GUUAM Heads of States Washington Statement signed on April 24, 1999, during NATO's 50 Anniversary Summit, Ministers of Defense of the GUUAM countries conducted a working meeting in the town of Tysovec, Ukraine, on August 6-7, 1999 and issued a joint protocol.
The joint protocol stresses common positions of the member-states on a number of vital issues, such as support for fundamental norms and principles of international law, including respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and internationally – recognized borders of states. These issues also include countering threats to peace and stability, finding peaceful resolution to regional conflicts, arms control, integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and security of the East-West transportation corridor (TRACECA).
During the meeting, the participants outlined specific steps to further cooperation among the GUUAM member – states. They agreed to continue consultation on establishing a joint peace keeping unit, to exchange information on military and regional security issues, and adopted a calendar of upcoming events within the GUUAM Ministries of Defense cooperation framework.
GUUAM PLEDGES TO CONTINUE THR FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL DRUGS
On October 4, 2000, Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations, on behalf of the GUUAM countries, spoke to the 55th Session of the UN General Assembly on the problem of illegal drug trafficking. He said the GUUAM states have elaborated the national strategies for drug control, particularly on the reduction of drug supply and its consumption. National legislation to provide more severe punishment for drug-related crimes are being approved. But the main portion of illegal trafficking of drugs in the GUUAM states is being transferred further to the European countries.
An appeal to the international community for its assistance in halting drug trafficking was made. It was stated that, “The fight against illicit drug trafficking requires a complex and multifaceted approach. It is necessary to combat both the supply and demand of drugs as well as organized crime, money laundering, corruption and terrorism, which are closely linked to drug trafficking. That problem requires urgent steps and targeted investments to carry out the complex measures on demand reduction. Therefore, the implementation of the above-mentioned program in the States of GUUAM will make a significant contribution on the part of the international community to support our efforts.”
PLEDGE TO WORK WITH NATO, OSCE AND UNITED NATIONS
In December, 1998, there was a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the GUAM states in Oslo, Norway. The parties stressed the need to step up the involvement of the GUAM Group in the work of such international organizations at the United Nations, the OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
The parties also discussed the current issues before OSCE – including the conflicts in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova – and reaffirmed their intention to intensify efforts to bring about peace on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states concerned.
They underscored the unacceptability of any settlement schemes at odds with these fundamental OSCE principles. The Ministers also noted the importance of continued coordination by the GUAM states of their contributions to negotiations on adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. They also again endorsed the Eurasian transit corridor and the use of multiple pipelines to bring energy resources of the Caspian Sea to world markets.
In June, 2000 interview with RFE/RL, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson praised the development of GUUAM, and pledged the cooperation of NATO with the new organization. When asked if NATO would help in the development of GUUAM, Secretary-General Robertson stated: “Very much so, because NATO is in the business of trying to replace existing cooperative structures or any other region. And indeed, we have tried in the past to develop cooperation between countries, whether it is bilateral or multilateral. And indeed, the GUUAM countries took the opportunity at the recent EACP ministerial meeting in Florence, in Italy, to have a GUUAM ministerial meeting at that point. So there are a whole series of regional set-ups which exist and, insofar are they bring countries together in a cooperative way to deal with common problems, then NATO very much encourages that and will continue to support it.”
On October 4, 2000, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, on behalf of the GUUAM countries, spoke on agenda item “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations” in the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly’s 55th Session. As it was stated, the GUUAM countries are convinced that working in the spirit of reasonable compromise with the sense of collective responsibility for the future of the United Nations, “the Fifth Committee will be able to arrive at decisions which will represent a further progressive step in refining the scale methodology on the basis of the principle of capacity to pay, which through the existence of the United Nations has remained fundamental for the apportionment of its expenses among Member States.”
1. GUUAM AMBASSADORS PLEDGE COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED STATES. On May 18, 2000 in Washington, D.C. the ambassadors of the GUUAM countries to the United States declared in a Capitol Hill seminar that the objective of GUUAM is to strengthen the sovereignty and independence of the former Soviet republics. Appearing at a Capitol Hill seminar sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and made possible by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the ambassadors described four immediate objectives: (1) to promote East-West trade and transportation corridor; (2) to develop interaction within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO’s Partnership for Peace program; (3) to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region; and (4) to combat the trafficking in narcotics in their countries.
The ambassadors also praised the United States as a “strategic partner” in their countries efforts to build democratic governments and free market economies, and declared their nations intentions to expand cooperation among themselves and with the United States. Also appearing at the hearing was Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, who declared that “there is a need for greater U.S. engagement with GUUAM.”
2. US CONGRESS PROVIDES FUNDING FOR GUUAM COUNTRIES. In the final Defense and Security Assistance Act of 2000, Congress provided funds for GUUAM countries and Armenia “to promote the independence and territorial sovereignty of such countries.” The legislation provides for Fiscal Year 2001 some $5 million in Foreign Military Financing grants, $2 million in nonproliferation and export control assistance, $500,000 in IMET funding, and $1 million in anti-terrorism assistance. For the fiscal year 2002, the legislation provides $20 million in FMF grant money, $10 million in nonproliferation and export control assistance, $5 million in IMET funding, and $2 million in anti-terrorism assistance. However, since assistance under this legislation is still covered by Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, assistance to Azerbaijan may be provided only for anti-terrorism or nonproliferation and export control purposes. For Uzbekistan this assistance may be provided solely for nonproliferation purposes.
The House and Senate Congressional conferees on the legislation “strongly support the cooperation on political, security, and economic matters promoted and facilitated by the GUUAM group. The United States should promote these endeavors as part of its strategy to help these states consolidate their independence and strengthen their sovereignty, to help resolve and prevent conflicts in their respective regions, and to promote democracy and human rights.”
3. US STATE DEPARTMENT PRAISES WORK OF GUUAM GROUP. On September 20, 2000, in response to a reporter’s question about whether the U.S.’s sponsorship of a GUUAM meeting at the UN Millennium Summit represented growing American cooperation with the group, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher also gave strong U.S. approval to GUUAM. He said: “Well, we have seen that kind of regional cooperation as being useful and important. It has been discussed several times. It was during the Secretary’s visit to Ukraine, discussed this morning in her meeting with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Mr. Tarasyuk. It came up in several of her meetings with these states in, I think, just about every one when she had meetings in New York, when she met with President Schevardnadze. They discussed it. And generally, we see this as a positive development of regional cooperation, and certainly we will want to cooperate in any way we can. I don’t have any particular details of what we might do to support them, but we do see it as positive.”
4. EMBASSIES OF GUUAM COUNTRIES IN THE UNITED STATES INITIATE A REGULAR NEWSLETTER. The GUUAM countries, on October 19, 2000, published their first joint newsletter. It covered news from all of the GUUAM countries – Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The newsletter will be published on a monthly basis and can be read on the web-site: www.guuam.org