The chief delegates of the GUAM countries–Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova–conferred yesterday at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington during the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Georgian Minister of State (equivalent of prime minister) Vazha Lortkipanidze, Ukrainian Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko, Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and Azerbaijani senior presidential adviser Vahid Ahundov issued a joint statement announcing the four countries’ determination to work together toward four goals. First, to minimize the impact of Russia’s financial crisis on their countries. Second, to support each other against “growing challenges to regional security and stability.” Third, to cooperate with one another and with international partners in the Europe-South Caucasus-Central Asia transit corridor project. And, fourth, to jointly lobby for accelerated development of Caspian oil deposits and construction of pipelines directly to international markets (Flux, Russian agencies, October 6). Russia objects to the transit corridor and the pipeline projects. During the banks’ meeting, U.S. Energy Secretary William Richardson assured Pustovoytenko of U.S. support for the proposed transportation of Azerbaijani oil via Georgia and Ukraine to European markets (Eastern Economist Daily [Kyiv], October 7).
At the latest session of NATO’s Euroatlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), the GUAM countries submitted a joint proposal to place South Caucasus security issues and conflict settlement in Moldova on the EAPC’s permanent agenda. The proposal stems from common concern over the presence of Russian troops and forward-based arsenals in the two regions (Snark, October 2; Monitor interviews, October 6).
At a recent international seminar in Baku on security issues, representatives of GUAM countries and Western specialists considered new initiatives to settle regional conflicts. One initiative envisages creation and deployment of a joint peacekeeping battalion of GUAM countries. The Ukrainian ambassador to Azerbaijan, Boris Aleksenko, reaffirmed Kyiv’s readiness under certain conditions to deploy a peacekeeping contingent in the theater of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict (Turan, September 24). Created last year to defend the four countries’ joint interests within the CIS, the GUAM group is beginning to speak with one voice also in international forums against Russian hegemonial aspirations.
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