Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 209

In advance of a planned summit in Kyiv which is expected to institutionalize GUUAM, its five member countries–Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova–are taking collective steps to assert their association’s presence on the international level. The government of Azerbaijan seems to be playing a coordinating role in these efforts.

On October 26, the five countries registered with the United Nations the documents of GUUAM’s September summit in New York as founding documents. The memorandum, signed by the five presidents on that occasion, underscores the group’s aspiration to develop direct links with the UN, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and the NATO. That statement makes clear statement that GUUAM’s countries do not consider themselves to be part of a “CIS space” and that that they see their future in association with the West.

Three days earlier, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had publicly suggested that the governments of Romania and Bulgaria consider the possibility of joining GUUAM in some form next year. Such a move would form part of common efforts to secure the westward transit of Caspian oil and gas and the creation of transit corridors from Western Europe to the South Caucasus. Also on October 23 in Kyiv, members of the Verkhovna Rada announced plans to hold an interparliamentary conference of GUUAM countries as early as January 2001 in Baku.

In Chisinau on October 24, the “GUUAM national coordinators”–an office special created in each of the five member countries–held a inaugural meeting to plan the implementation of the September summit’s decisions. The meeting focused on energy imports, the creation of transit routes, the goal of forming a GUUAM free trade zone, and prospects for the accession of new member countries. The Ukrainian government has taken a lead in drafting proposals toward the creation of a free trade zone.

In the United States, the GUUAM countries’ ambassadors have inaugurated a practice of making joint appearances to expound their common positions on international problems. In the most recent appearance of this kind, the ambassadors of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova shared a university platform last week to discuss the problems posed by the Russian troops in the South Caucasus and Moldova and other challenges to the national independence of their countries. The five countries have launched an electronic newsletter, GUUAM News, the inaugural issue of which has appeared in October (Turan, UNIAN, Basapress, October 20, 23, 26, November 1, 4; see GUUAM News at; see the Monitor, September 12, October 19; Fortnight in Review, October 20).