Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the members of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM, I would like to express our gratitude to the Belgian hosts for their hospitality and excellent organization of the meeting. We are particularly pleased that these days Brussels has become a capital for yet another organization, which actively promotes security and cooperation in Europe and far beyond. In this connection let me express our high appreciation to the Belgian Chairmanship for its essential activities during the whole year.
Naturally, our words of welcome also go to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain. The GUAM Member States wish the incoming Spanish Chairmanship every success and vigour in carrying out this demanding task.
2006 has been a landmark year for GUAM. On May 23 at the GUAM Summit in Kyiv (Ukraine), which was attended by a number of Heads of states and governments, the OSCE Secretary-General and top-rank officials from OSCE participating States, the Presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine established the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM as an international regional organization.
The GUAM Heads of states reaffirmed that the priorities of the Organization are the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, economic development, ensuring security and stability, protection of the environment, combating international terrorism, aggressive separatism, extremism and trans-national organized crime, deepening of the European integration and achievement of sustainable development and well-being of their peoples. These priorities of GUAM fully correspond to the main principles and purposes of the OSCE.
GUAM Member States attach great significance to further enhancing the OSCE’s role as an inclusive and comprehensive security Organization, a forum for political dialogue, a key instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict rehabilitation and an important cooperative mechanism for promoting the values of democracy, rule of law and human rights throughout OSCE area and beyond.
It is obvious that the direction of OSCE and GUAM efforts in the field of security are common. The settlement of “protracted conflicts” in the OSCE area, in particular in the Transdniestrian region of Moldova, South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia of Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, remains at the top of the comprehensive security agenda of OSCE and continues to be one of priority objectives of cooperation within GUAM.
From the very beginning of their declared participation in the Helsinki process the GUAM Member States tried to play an essential role in OSCE activities on conflict prevention and resolution. Ukraine, in particular, exercises its functions of mediator and settlement guarantor in the Transdniestrian region of the Republic of Moldova and is committed to continue these activities in the future. Our countries believe that the proposals of the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko “Settlement through democracy” constitute a solid basis for the further work. I would like to use this opportunity to reaffirm our support to a Plan of peace settlement of the conflict in South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region by the President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili as well as to the ongoing activities of the OSCE Minsk Group in the peace process in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
We recognize that unresolved conflicts on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova threaten the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of these states, impede implementation of full-scale democratic reforms and achievement of sustainable development, jeopardize regional security, negatively impact pan-European integration processes and challenge the entire international community.
We strongly believe the cooperative security approach of the OSCE implies that there is no alternative to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts, which should be based on generally recognized norms and principles of international law, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of the states, as well as on the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and OSCE decisions.
The GUAM Member States underline the importance of the demilitarization of conflict zones and establishing security in these zones with the assistance of the multinational peacekeeping forces to be deployed there under the UN or OSCE mandates for creating conditions for the return of population and for the peaceful coexistence of ethnic communities.
We also welcome this year efforts and new approaches of Belgian Chairmanship aiming at confidence-building in abovementioned conflict zones through social-economic rehabilitation, including by facilitating donors’ contributions, democratic development and expedient response to risks and threats.
The GUAM states are following very closely the developments around the resolution of the Kosovo issue. We are convinced that a just and lasting settlement there can only be achieved if the final status agreement is acceptable to the parties involved and is reached on the basis of consensus. In that sense the decision to continue the talks is a positive step.
The recent so-called “independence referenda” in the Transdniestrian region of the Republic of Moldova and in South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region of Georgia, as well as intention to hold so called “constitutional referendum” in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, in our view, pose major threat and challenge for stability and continuity of the process of settlement. We therefore welcome the reaction of OSCE Chairmanship, as well as the European Union, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and statements of the overwhelming majority of OSCE states, which decidedly refused to recognise the results of these referenda in accordance with common OSCE principles.
At the same time, our word is to the population of the separatist regions: European institutions and their Member States are ready to do their utmost to speed up settlement process, while providing substantial economic assistance and legal assurances to people and institutions to guarantee human rights, rule of law, market economy, ethnic language and religious freedom within the reunited state.
As members of the Organization for democracy and economic development – GUAM, participating States believe the energy security issues which were brought at the forefront at the beginning of this year are inseparable from regional security and the national security of each participating State. During the year 2006, this concept has driven the efforts of the OSCE participating States towards a more active implementation of the provisions of 2003 OSCE Maastricht Strategy Document related to energy security. Through a number of concrete steps we have reaffirmed that the OSCE can respond to emerging challenges and add value to concerted efforts of the international community in this field. GUAM Member States therefore support the continued involvement of the OSCE in the interregional energy dialogue and co-operation.
We do believe that the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM and the OSCE will further develop fruitful co-operation in promoting security, stability and prosperity in Wider Europe.