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Grave prospects for GUAM

By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 30
Under the new administration in Ukraine several initiatives of the previous Government have been abandoned. Most probably therefore the GUAM project is now doomed.

GUAM, the union of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, was created at the end of the last century in order to counterbalance Moscow’s dominating position in the CIS. It was a mostly economic rather than political initiative but it caused the utmost irritation in Moscow. Now that Ukraine is fast becoming a Kremlin satellite Kiev will most probably withdraw from GUAM and therefore the organisation as a whole will cease to serve any purpose and will therefore be wound up.

Since 1997 GUAM has initiated several economic projects, seeking to develop alternative energy transportation routes involving Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Several such initiatives were supported by former Ukrainian President Yushchenko and PM Tymoshenko but it is unlikely that these will be viable anymore. Viktor Yanukovich has already stated that Ukraine will reconsider its participation in GUAM, and this can only mean that it is thinking of withdrawing from it. The only condition under which Ukraine will stay is if it receives practical benefit from the organisation, but citing this condition is merely a smokescreen. Ukraine will leave and so analysts in both Ukraine and Georgia think that the organisation is counting its last days or months.

Until now the USA and EU have been rather enthusiastic about GUAM, and they are largely the reason it exists. How it could continue without Ukraine is difficult to predict. Although Kiev was trying to become an alternative economic power in the region some while ago the new President is giving up this idea and not trying to challenge Moscow. The other members of GUAM do not possess enough economic clout without Ukraine to counterbalance Russia's influence and thus they will achieve little alone. GUAM, or GAM, might be a nice idea but it is unlikely to be one worth fighting for.

The impending demise of GUAM is yet another victory of The Kremlin in its battle to recover its dominant position both in the region and internationally. If the West is concerned about this it will only be able to reverse this trend by immediately linking Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova with an economic bloc able to do this, i.e. give them some form of EU membership, full or associate.