Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 113

Unlike the CIS, GUUAM does not include a would-be hegemon country. Yet Ukraine has recently emerged as GUUAM’s prime mover. It was President Leonid Kuchma and Foreign Affairs Minister Anatoly Zlenko who took the lead in organizing this summit, in spite of Moscow’s objections, which had cajoled two or three member countries into delaying the event. In light of those uncertain preliminaries, the holding of the summit and the incipient institutionalization of GUUAM gain added significance.

Kyiv’s main interest—as outlined by Kuchma and Zlenko during this summit–is the creation of transport routes for Caspian oil and gas to Ukraine, and via Ukraine to Central Europe, so as to reduce dependence on Russian energy. Azerbaijan and Georgia share this interest. The three and Uzbekistan, moreover, have a vital economic and political stake in the implementation of the European Union’s TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Central Asia) project.

President Islam Karimov used some dramatic language in declaring before, during and after the summit that Uzbekistan urgently needs an outlet to Europe via the Caucasus, the Black Sea and Ukraine. He described that goal as his “main and constant worry” and as Uzbekistan’s “greatest national task.” Karimov underscored the urgency of ending Uzbekistan’s dependence on the “northern route”–that is, transit via Russia–from Central Asia to Europe.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze took the lead in urging GUUAM’s enlargement through admission of non-CIS countries as observers initially, later eligible for full membership. As he did at last year’s New York summit, Shevardnadze focused on Romania and Bulgaria as potential members of GUUAM. In Kyiv he announced that he would make that case with Romania’s President Ion Iliescu at their scheduled meeting in September in Bucharest. From Georgia’s standpoint, Romania and Bulgaria are western neighbors situated just across the Black Sea and “windows” to Europe.

Only Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin seemed uncertain of his country’ s current role in GUUAM. Only he suggested in vain that Russia be invited as an observer, and he alone pleaded for Ukraine to join the EAEC in order to enable Moldova to join as well. Yet even Voronin declared his willingness to participate in all the economic projects of GUUAM if they are beneficial to Moldova as an exporting country of agricultural produce (UNIAN, Ukrainian Television, Den (Kyiv), Tbilisi Radio, Prime-News, Turan, ANS, Ekho (Baku), Uzbek Television,, Flux, Basapress, June 4-8;, June 6; see the Monitor, January 23, February 19, March 19, May 10, June 4-5; Fortnight in Review, February 2).