Publication: Fortnight in Review Volume: 6 Issue: 23

The ministers’ meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright inaugurated a new forum: the “GUUAM-United States consultative framework” at the foreign affairs ministers’ level. The GUUAM ministers expressed appreciation for the “growing American interest” in the international role of the GUUAM countries as a group. They also voiced unwavering support for U.S.-sponsored plans to bring Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Once the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is completed as a priority project, Ukraine can in turn become a transit country for oil and gas exports to Central and Northern Europe from the Caspian basin. That opens the prospect for the GUUAM group to provide reliable energy corridors to several parts of Europe during the decade ahead.

Similarly in the meetings with European Union counterparts, the GUUAM country ministers called for implementation of the EU’s Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Central Asia project. Successful development of TRACECA and the pipeline projects would increase the Western stake in securing the independence of the GUUAM countries on a permanent basis. For that same reason, Moscow is certain to continue resisting transit projects in Azerbaijan and Georgia and to oppose Ukraine’s more recent attempts to become a transit country for Caspian resources.