“Ukraine sees a bright future for GUAM”: Ambassador of Ukraine in Azerbaijan shares his government’s vision for GUAM

Ukraine’s newly-arrived ambassador in Baku, H.E. Mr. Boris Klimchuk, shared these comments with “Azerbaijan in the World” about how his government sees GUAM developing.
One should begin by noting that October 2007 marked the tenth anniversary of the meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in Strasbourg that formalized the already close cooperation among our countries and thus created what today is known as GUAM.  Now, as a result of their joint efforts, GUAM has acquired real weight in the international system and has developed partnerships around the world, including with the countries of Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, the United States, Japan and more.
In the course of the decade, our organization has demonstrated its effectiveness and continues to do so.  The 2007 Baku summit at which the GUAM presidency passed to Azerbaijan not only highlighted what has been achieved but gave new impetus to the organization’s development.  
For all the member countries and for GUAM as an organization, the past year under Azerbaijan’s presidency has been particularly protective in terms of social and economic development, the development of communication and transportation links, the expansion of cultural and scientific ties, the strengthening of our cooperation in other international organizations, and the joint struggle against international terrorism, organized crime, and the drug trade.  As a result of these efforts, the GUAM member states are closer than ever before to achieving their goal of bringing their countries into line with European values and standards.
A clear illustration of what has been achieved – and an indication of the possibilities for further growth in cooperation among our countries – is the expansion of trade between Azerbaijan and other member states.  In 2005, Azerbaijan’s trade with the three other GUAM countries amounted to 516 million US dollars; in 2007, it had almost doubled to 912 million US dollars; and this year it is on track to top more than one billion US dollars.
That kind of growth and the integration that goes with it will only be increased by some of the other initiatives GUAM has taken over the past year including but not limited to the development of the Euro-Asiatic oil transit corridor, the development of intermodal transport systems, and the development of the GUAM space as the most important transit zone between Europe and Asia.
At the present time, GUAM is devoting particular attention to promoting stability first and foremost within and among the member states, an effort that our partners in the European Union and the United States in particular have welcomed.  We cannot speak about the strengthening of security without addressing the frozen conflicts in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.  Indeed, their resolution is one of our most pressing tasks, and although there are no such conflicts on Ukrainian territory, Kyiv stands ready to provide whatever assistance it can both directly and through international organizations. 
In this connection, I would like to call attention to the united front of GUAM countries in the course of the 14 March 2008 debate and vote in the UN General Assembly on the resolution concerning occupied territories in Azerbaijan.  That kind of cooperation was also manifested at the third ODER-GUAM summit in Batumi on June 30-July 1 of this year.  At that meeting, GUAM countries committed themselves to work together even more closely than in the past at the United Nations and at the OSCE, in the first instance to secure the passage of resolutions on the frozen conflicts. 
Such progress gives us every reason to be confident that GUAM will have an even brighter future than its already successful first decade.