Tenth Anniversary of GUAM: Ten years of successful
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, GUAM, Organization for democracy and economic development,
On 10 October 2007, the Presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine together with the leaders of partner nations of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the United States gathered in Vilnius to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the GUAM establishment.
GUAM, officially known as Organization for democracy and economic development - GUAM, is an international regional organization consisting of four Member States - the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. On 10 October 1997, the heads of the four states originally shaped the process of cooperation and integration. This far-sighted step was determined by similarity of challenges and threats that these states were faced with, and based upon commonality of approaches in searching efficient solutions to the existing problems with the most complicated one relating to the unresolved protracted conflicts in the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.
Since 1997, being a natural and voluntary association of like-minded states GUAM has successfully passed through various tests and proved its strong viability and practical relevance. Throughout 10 years GUAM has transformed into a full-fledged international organization with a distinct identity devoted to democracy and economic development. GUAM established strong cooperative and mutually beneficial ties with the
partner states and other international bodies in broad range of fields.
In the Communiqu? adopted in 1997 the four states stressed the necessity of developing the quadrilateral cooperation for promoting stability and strengthening security in Europe on the basis of principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of state borders, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Presidents also emphasized the importance of cooperation between the four nations in establishing a Eurasian, Trans-Caucasus transportation corridor, considering joint actions taken in this direction as a sound foundation for fostering friendship and co-
operation, goodneighborly relations and full utilization of existing economic opportunities.
The first GUAM Summit, which took place on 7 June 2001 in Yalta, marked a crucial landmark in its formation and institutionalization as an international structure. Yalta Charter of GUAM determined the purposes, principles and directions of cooperation among the participating states.
The main purposes of cooperation formulated in Yalta Charter include promoting social and economic development; strengthening and expanding trade and economic relations; development and effective use of transport and communication arteries in the interests of the GUAM states with its corresponding infrastructure located in their territories; strengthening of regional security; developing relations in the fields of science and culture and in the humanitarian spheres; cooperation within international organizations; combating international terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking.
Fundamentals of the GUAM organizational structure have fixed the existing mechanisms of cooperation among the Member States, which proved its efficiency in practice. According to the Yalta Charter, annual meeting of the heads of the GUAM participating states (supreme body), Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (executive body) and Committee of National Coordinators (working body), were the main bodies of the Organization.
Coordination of cooperation between GUAM Member States in various fields has been envisaged through seven working groups on: energy; transport; trade and economic development; information technologies and telecommunication; culture, science and education; tourism; combating terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking. The decision on creation of the GUAM Information Office in Kyiv to carry out the functions of the Secretariat of the Organization was adopted as well.
More than 20 multilateral agreements have been concluded within GUAM. These documents serve as a legal basis for the establishment of a free trade zone as well as cooperation between the transport, law enforcement, border and customs authorities etc.
The GUAM Business Council was established as well to better utilize the existing business opportunities. On 23 September 2004, the parliaments of the GUAM Member States declared the establishment of the GUAM Parliamentary Assembly to provide legislative support for the development of the Organization.
The GUAM Member States actively cooperate within international organizations, first of all within the Organization on Secuirty and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations. They adhere to common positions on many important issues of international policy. In 2003, GUAM has been granted an observer status in the UN General Assembly. At the initiative of the GUAM Member States, the item entitled "Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development"was included into the agenda of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly.
The GUAM - USA cooperation, established in 2002, made a substantial contribution to the promotion of the GUAM goals. The Joint GUAM - USA statements made during the GUAM Summits represented a clear evidence of mutual intention to continue and strengthen cooperation on the basis of the appropriate Framework Program, which envisages the implementation of projects in the field of trade and transportation facilitation, establishment of the GUAM Virtual Center for Fight Against Terrorism, Organized Crime, Drug Proliferation and Other Dangerous Types of Crimes, and Interstate Information/ Analytical System of the GUAM countries. In the subsequent years, useful cooperation between the GUAM and Japan, GUAM and Poland was established as well.
The Chisinau Summit of 2005 demonstrated shared views of the countries on democratization of society, European integration, economic development, stability and security in the region. At the same time, GUAM states expressed their common position with respect to the necessity for transformation of GUAM into international organization to be directed at strengthening democracy and providing for stability and sustainable development in the region. This idea by the GUAM heads of states was realized at the next Summit that took place on 22-23 May 2006 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Following decisions approved at the Chisinau Summit, the GUAM heads of states declared the establishment of the Organization for democracy and economic development - GUAM and adopted its Charter.
According to the Charter, the structure of the newly created organization includes the Council and the Secretary. The Council is the main body of the Organization which carries out its work on the level of the Heads of States (Summit), Ministers of Foreign Affaires, National Coordinators and Perman-ent Representatives. The Secretariat provides organizational and technical support for GUAM activities and functions under the stewardship of the Secretary General. The place of activity of the Secretariat and the Depositary of GUAM is the city of Kyiv. During the Summit the Ministers of Foreign Affairs approved the Rules of Procedure, Provision on the Secretariat and Financial Provisions of GUAM.
At the Kyiv Summit the heads of states expressed their confidence that the establishment of the Organization for democracy and economic development - GUAM would ensure achievement of the set purposes and enable to deepen and enhance cooperation of its Member States. They also stressed that the priorities of the future Organization would consist of strengthening of the democratic values, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, stability and security, combating international terrorism, aggressive separatism, extremism and transnational organized crime, deepening of the European integration and achievement of sustainable development and well-being of their peoples.
Heads of States emphasized in particular that GUAM is an open-ended organization, and any state, sharing its purposes and principles, may join it. They also adopted the decision concerning the GUAM’s partnership with the interested states and international organizations and approved the relevant provisions.
The Second Summit of GUAM organized in Baky in June 2007 and entitled "GUAM: Bringing continents together" further deepened and intensified the cooperation between its Member States. It stressed unswerving strife of the GUAM Member States to develop the GUAM regional significance and identity by consolidating common interests and expanding sector cooperation. The Strategy for Sector Cooperation was adopted during the Summit. The Baky Summit also expressed the intention of the GUAM states to actively participate in strengthening global energy security by supporting efforts to find new hydrocarbon sources, using their territories for transportation of these resources to the world markets and cooperating further in exploring and developing alternative and renewable energy sources.
The Baky Summit again confirmed the necessity to continue joint active measures for settling protracted conflicts in the GUAM region on the basis of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders as well as the importance to mobilize support by the international community to settle them. Member States expressed their conviction that reintegration of the affected territories into the political, legal and socio-economic system of state, their full rehabilitation, return of displaced persons to their places of permanent residence, restoration of transport communications and ensuring the peaceful co-existence and cooperation between the communities in these territories remain the only option for just and lasting solution of the conflicts.
While projecting the GUAM perspective for the future, GUAM’s most recent Vilnius Summit reiterated its strong determination to actively contribute to the international security, stability and peace in the most effective and appropriate manner. As a natural transportation route connecting Europe and Asia, GUAM will continue to playing an increasingly important role in economic development and regional integration, thus bringing continents together. Uniting representatives of different cultural, ethnic and religious background GUAM is promoting the vital process of dialogue among civilizations bringing mutual respect through knowledge and understanding.