At the outset, let me express my sincere gratitude to the MFA of Azerbaijan for the initiation of this International Conference, excellent organization of the event and traditional Azerbaijani hospitality, extended to us. It is an excellent opportunity for officials and experts to brainstorm on different aspects of conflict resolution process. The way Program of Conference is structured, as well as topics for discussions offered, is convincing enough to assert, that it will be not just another event in the chain of similar initiatives. We all are anticipating interesting discussions, and as an outcome, recommendations of this high-level forum. I believe it will constitute serious food for thought for Working Organs of our Organization. So this initiative, no doubt, is valuable and timely.

We have to brainstorm for new ideas and elaborate new approaches for the peaceful settlement of the conflicts, based on the norms and principles of international law. International Organizations, both global and regional, should do their best in this respect. It is my personal opinion, that certain fatigue of international community to deal with conflict zones in Europe is registered, which we have to confront with. The Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM is ready to make its contribution to the process. What kind of this contribution could it be?

GUAM is newly established international organization, although last October we have celebrated 10th anniversary of GUAM initiative. What are the results delivered by GUAM format so far? From regional cooperation initiative GUAM progressed to a full-fledged regional cooperation organization with a well-institutionalized structure. Virtual Centre for combating terrorism and organized crime was established, as well as Free Trade Zone has been launched. Law enforcement agencies and border authorities are actively interacting, contributing to business-friendly regime on the borders, fighting the organized crime and executing common anti criminal operations.

In the year of 2006 GUAM internal trade turnover was $2 bln., and in 2007 it passed the threshold of $3 bln. These are only initial results of GUAM Free Trade Zone establishment during GUAM Kyiv Summit of May 2006. During last two years GUAM internal trade upgrades for more then 40% annually and I believe target of $10 bln. in 5 years is realistic.

After Baku Summit of Heads of State, during Azerbaijani presidency in the Organization, cooperation was systematized, institutional building of the GUAM practically finalized. The core document adopted at Baku Summit i.e. Baku Declaration provide a political evaluation to cooperation within GUAM framework for the period which elapsed from Kiev Summit and defined interaction prospects for the next period. The Declaration generates the overall vision of prospects for the development of GUAM region and emphasizes that it is necessary «to fully benefit from the potential of GUAM Member States in order to create a common space for integration and security in the GUAM region». This is a key idea. All of documents signed in Baku serve it. Program for Azerbaijani Presidency as submitted and approved at Baku Summit is focused thereon as well.

GUAM Baku Summit did not mark just the transfer of presidency from Ukraine to Azerbaijan. We enter a new phase of cooperation. In addition to the Program for Azerbaijani Presidency in the Organization, the latter also approved GUAM Strategy for Sectoral Cooperation Development. The Strategy consists of an economic block, a block of issues relating to the protection of rule of law and security, and humanitarian block. Today, working groups are equipped with a “Road Map” endorsed by the presidents for future activities. This is a new factor in the development of our Organization, which reflects the commitment of our countries not only interact but also further develop joint approaches in all areas of cooperation, which puts into practice the idea of common space of integration and security. It should be noted that such approach fully corresponds to principles of regional cooperation as formulated by the European Union in the European Neighborhood Policy and in corresponding plans of action the EU signed with all four GUAM Member States i.e. Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

The Baku Summit reiterated its determination to expand cooperation with a view to promote democratic values, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, attain sustainable social and economic development and ensure security and stability in the GUAM region, declared its intention to develop the GUAM regional significance and identity by consolidating common interests and deepening sector cooperation.

Civilized space of partnership in Black Sea – Caspian region, based on European practice, criterias and standards, primarily Four Freedom philosophy, is our main goal and objective. We see it as our contribution to wider European stability and security.

The implementation of this goal will upgrade our capacity to stimulate the peaceful resolution of protracted conflicts in GUAM Region as our countries will upgrade their attractiveness and offer new opportunities for the population of the breakaway territories. We will continue our interaction to mobilize further support of international community to the process of peaceful resolution of protracted conflicts in GUAM Region, based on principles and norms of international law, and first and foremost, territorial integrity of GUAM Member States within their internationally recognized borders.

The Vilnius Decennial Summit noted with a great concern that the process of development and integration of our States is still burdened by many outstanding problems, among which are the unresolved conflicts in the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Republic of Moldova. In this connection it reaffirmed commitment to finding peaceful solutions to these conflicts on the basis of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of States and expressed the belief that aggressive nationalism, armed separatism and disintegration have no future in our region, since they fully contradict the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights, which constitute the very basis of GUAM.

The approach of our Organization to the conflict resolution process is reflected in GUAM Draft Resolution “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their Implications for International Peace, Security and Development”, which is presented to the 62nd Session of UN GA under the Agenda Item 16. We hope that the whole international community, including those Members of UN, who for some reasons aggressively confronted idea of inclusion of this Item to the Agenda of UN GA, will introduce cooperative spirit through discussions, enabling all participants of the process to facilitate the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the respective states.

We will continue to explain consistently and with patience to international community, what is consolidated position of GUAM in this respect. I believe, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov and Heads of GUAM member states delegations made an impressive attempt in this respect during our morning session. I believe as well, that composition of this conference, combining representatives both from academic and official structures, is introducing excellent chance to exchange ideas and elaborate new approaches for the facilitation of conflict resolution process.

Looking forward for motivated and interesting discussions, I would like to express once again my gratitude to MFA of Azerbaijan for the excellent organizational arrangements of this conference.

I wish success to our common endeavor.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.