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Ministers agree to create free trade zone

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Tuesday, October 10
GUAM member states have achieved an agreement on establishment of a transit zone among Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova on October 8.

In addition to the agreement GUAM member states have celebrated 20th anniversary since the establishment of the organization in Tbilisi over the weekend. The visit of representatives of GUAM member states has also coincided with the days of Tbilisi City “Tbilisoba” marked in the beginning of this month on October 7-8.

Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mikheil Janelidze believes the establishment of a free trade zone among the four countries will support the creation of a transport corridor that will “bring welfare, stability and development to the entire region.”

GUAM, a regional Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, was established 20 years ago by four post-soviet countries: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The aim of GUAM is to support cooperation in all spheres of a mutual interest of its member states by promoting political consolidation and deepening sectorial cooperation.

The Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (CMFA) of GUAM held meetings with top political officials in Tbilisi to discuss future collaboration possibilities and the organization’s development strategy.

GUAM delegation met with the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili who noted that it is necessary to take significant steps to ensure this format of collaboration, which is unique and implies cooperation among strategic partners. The Delegation also met with Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

On October 7-8, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (CMFA) of GUAM has been represented in Tbilisi by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Chairman of the meeting Mikheil Janelidze, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova Andrei Galbur, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkinand GUAM Secretary General Altai Efendiev.

In addition to achieving the agreement on a free trade zone, GUAM delegation discussed several key issues important to member states.

The ministers noted:
• The evolution of GUAM has provided a regional platform for promoting and strengthening cooperation among its Member States;
• It is important to promote the GUAM Transport Corridor as an essential link connecting Europe and Asia, and as a stable, secure and competitive East-West transit route;
• Active engagement of private enterprises and business communities in the implementation of projects and initiatives in the framework of GUAM should be promoted;
• The CMFA acknowledged successful cooperation among the customs administrations within GUAM Trade and Transport Facilitation Project;
• The CMFA welcomed active cooperation among Parliaments of the GUAM member states and high profile officials;
• Significant progress was achieved within GUAM-Japan cooperation format;
• Joint efforts of member states to promote GUAM as a regional stakeholder on an international arena was praised;
• The importance of support provided by the USA was underlined;
• The CMFA expressed its deep concern about unresolved sovereignty problems of the member states.