President pleased with GUAM summit
And particularly pleased with the free trade protocol
In an official statement that followed today’s GUAM summit in Kyiv, Victor Yushchenko said the meeting had focused on economic, energy, border, law enforcement, and transit issues, according to the President’s press-office.
When speaking about documents the Heads of State signed, Mr. Yushchenko said he was "particularly pleased with the free trade protocol."
“We have been waiting to sign this agreement for quite long but today we finally can declare that this Azeri-Georgian-Moldovan-Ukrainian zone exists, and we have liberalized our trade relations,” he said, adding that they would soon have to “harmonize their customs and border relations.”
“These challenges are still ahead but I can confidently state that the four presidents have the will to resolve the problems, which will help us integrate with Europe, and so we will firmly follow this path,” he promised.
The President then said his colleagues were all determined to fight international terrorism, separatism, extremism and transnational organized crime.
“We see all these challenges as major impediments of democratic and economic development. We want to jointly remove these obstacles and we are ready to actively and constructively cooperate with the European Union and the United States of America in this direction.”
Mr. Yushchenko said he appreciated the dynamics of contacts within GUAM in 2005, which involved not only the presidents but also the governments, parliaments, and businessmen of these countries.
“Today, GUAM has new qualities and it faces difficult but accomplishable tasks,” he said, adding that the organization would gladly accept other countries and organizations sharing its principles and values.
Mr. Yushchenko assured those present that GUAM had not been established to counterbalance the Commonwealth of Independent States. “The rule is that we should have friendly relations with our neighbors. It is absolutely natural, isn’t it? When the annual turnover with your neighbor is USD 21 bln, we believe this turnover must not be lost but increase,” he explained.
In his turn, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said the summit was “a new stage of GAUM, which will determine the four countries’ further development and regional integration:” “Our countries make up a natural corridor between Asia and Europe and so the development of the transport infrastructure will help us boost our economies.”
Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili also praised the free trade protocol, describing it as a “benefit for our countries, their citizens, manufacturers, exporters and importers.” He added that the summit “has indicated a new reality in our countries and new interests of our countries.”
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said he was sure other countries, for example, Romania and Bulgaria, would soon join the new organization.