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Prospects of GUAM

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, November 5
Georgia has left the CIS but remained a member of GUAM, though this body has been a very slow and lazy one. GUAM is the so far virtual union of Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan.

Recently the representatives of Moldova and Ukraine all of a sudden expressed an interest in reactivating this union. If this happens GUAM will be a very interesting phenomenon, a body containing three CIS countries and one former member of the CIS who left in protest. This presents a challenge for those involved.

Originally GUAM was created as an economic organisation but it has gained the political connotation of a body balancing Russia’s imperialistic ambitions. Three of its member countries, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan, have been plagued by separatism encouraged and supported by Russia, and Ukraine has also seen the pro-Russian element of its population stirred up by its neighbour. The most distressing thing for Russia was the ambitious project of GUAM countries to control European energy supplies by developing oil and gas pipelines running through their territories which would bypass Russia. At one point Uzbekistan also joined this body, but when Russia released the threat GUAM poses it persuaded Uzbekistan to leave it. Russian analysts mockingly stated at that time that GUAM was dead.

Interestingly the initiative of reviving this organisation came from Kishinev, Moldova. On November 3 at a joint press conference Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council Raisa Bogatirova and Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs Iurie Leanca suggested that the organisation could be of interest to their countries. Russian political analyst Alexander Krilov immediately reacted to this, saying that GUAM is not an efficient body. Krilov mentioned that GUAM was created as a counterbalance to the CIS on the initiative of George W. Bush and he suggested that the Obama administration will not be interested in developing this body, which according to him has gone bankrupt. Krilov thinks that the EU has suggested the Eastern Partnership Programme as a replacement for GUAM, and that the West would have to put huge resources into reactivating it but is very unlikely to do so.

In the near future developments will show how viable the idea of establishing GUAM as a credible political union is. Its fate can be taken as a benchmark for what happens to anything Russia sees as a threat, and this may be a reason why its members are newly interested in supporting it.