Filling the GUAM project with new meaningIryna Friz
GUAM should receive new political meaning. All four countries that comprise this association [Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova] have suffered encroachment on their territorial integrity and were deprived of part of their territory as a result of direct or indirect military action by Russia.
Today, the top priority for GUAM is the restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty; development the concept and strategy of keeping the aggressive and hostile neighbor within its borders of August 22, 1991; and strengthening of economic cooperation, maintaining national independence of the member states.
The situation with Nagorniy Karabakh and Transnistria laid grounds for the Russia’s revision of the neighboring states’ borders by force. It seems that the Kremlin has failed to get rid of a tsar’s crown since 1917 and has kept building its foreign policy based on totalitarian military aggression rather than economic pragmatism.
Today, Ukraine along with the civilized world, are paying the price for failing to say a decisive “no” to the aggressive moves by Moscow in 1992 and 2008. The silence has led to the creation of non-viable quasi-states, the actual function of which is to host the military bases of the aggressor state.
We recognize that the presence within the sovereign countries of the unrecognized “islands” of quasi-statehood inhibits the development of each of the GUAM members, limiting their opportunities for further self-determination and implementation of foreign policy.
In recent years, GUAM was seen as a political project that was to become an alternative to Russian geopolitical projects, including those in our region. However, at the time, the objectives, risks, foreign and domestic policies of each association member effectively prevented from filling its activities with meaning, creating an effective alliance, the total GDP of which would amount to $479 billion, and a population of 61 million.
Today, the consequences of military conflict and foreign aggression have created a unified platform for GUAM’s operations. The activities should be aimed at the revival of territorial integrity, fighting separatism and the aggressive policy of certain states located at the organization’s perimeter, countering economic pressure from the outside. After all, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have repeatedly been the victims of hostile economic restrictions by Russia.
Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are countries that are on their path to the associative membership in the EU. Regarding Azerbaijan, the European Neighborhood Policy has been implemented, and Baku sees the EU as an important trading partner. Given these circumstances, the economic reforms and reaching out the EU standards may also be a common goal for GUAM member states.
Thus, all forms of cooperation needs to be used, including the revival and filling the GUAM activities with specific content, which would help to create new areas of joint operation. We must do everything to form a new development strategy of this geopolitical and geo-economic project, while preserving the strategic foreign policy of each individual member state. GUAM is able to function effectively only in case if each member state achieves what it desires from this project. And, in my opinion, restoring territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence are more than reasonable grounds to take part in such project.
Member of Parliament
Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security and Defense
Member of the Permanent Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of GUAM