Let me start by congratulating Ukraine with two national holidays – the Day of the State Flag today, and Independence Day, which will be tomorrow. This year, these holidays are being celebrated by repulsing on the battlefields the unjustified, unprovoked aggression by the RF initiated six months ago, on February 24, 2022. We admire the bravery and the dedication of the Ukrainian people in defending their freedom and independence, their heroism and unbreakable spirit in fiercely fighting to preserve their national identity, the right to exist and to decide on their future by themselves. We call on you to stay united and strong and wish you every success in your just, epical, fateful, and missionary struggle. Obtaining this year of the EU candidate status is a big step in that direction.
I met the beginning of the war in Kyiv and witnessed the unfolding full-fledged invasion with all its atrocities and horrors. The nation is paying a very high price in this existential struggle through losing thousands of lives and going through massive destructions of civilian and industrial infrastructure and demolished cities and towns. We share your pain and suffering. I want to extend our deep condolences to the Ukrainian people and express our strong solidarity.
Convening the second Summit of the Crimea Platform in given circumstances is yet another diplomatic victory of Ukraine that instils hope for a better future. We wish every success to this initiative aimed at the restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within the internationally recognized borders and, with that – peace and cooperation in the Black Sea region. We reiterate our full commitment to its objectives.
In my statement at the Forum last year, referring to the lessons from our region, I warned of the danger of the decades-long inertia of inaction of the international community vis-à-vis flagrant violations of the norms and principles of international law and the impunity of the perpetrators. Unfortunately, it took 184 days to witness yet another terrible aftermath of such an attitude, this time unprecedented in its scale, brutality, and potential global consequences.
Conflicts and wars in our region, including this one, could have been prevented should the international community and its institutions have acted preemptively, uncompromisingly, resolutely, united, and forcefully in protecting law and basic principles of peaceful coexistence.
Today we are in need to critically reassess and rectify mistakes of the recent past, recalibrate the malfunctioning and discredited institutions, and redesign the whole system of international relations that would ensure rules-based, predictable, and peaceful coexistence among all nations, big and small. The coalition of willing united and growing around the Crimea Platform initiative can be viewed as a step in that direction.
In the new security and cooperation architecture, the role of regional groupings based on universal rules, shared vision, and interests will significantly increase. The GUAM organization can be such an important pillar of regional stability and cooperation, given the increasing strategic importance of our region.
From the very beginning of the war, we stand firmly with Ukraine in our unwavering support of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our member states consistently provide humanitarian aid and other non-military assistance to support Ukraine and its people at this extremely hard time.
The ongoing war has profoundly changed the geopolitical context around our region. As a result, the GUAM Member States have encountered another enormous challenge. The national infrastructures of GUAM states have been tested to their limits to cope with the exponentially growing volumes of transit shipments to Ukraine and serve as an alternative route in the East-West transport corridor to replace the blocked and sanctioned routes and suppliers. This situation, on one side, emphasizes the significance of the geography of the region as a new critical alternative link; on the other – even more, stresses the need to develop, modernize and expand regional infrastructure capacities integrated into wider European and global networks. Clearly, the GUAM geography is one of the areas where the interests of global players intersect, and we firmly believe that its integrated infrastructure should be an essential part of the new, more comprehensive international connectivity and security architecture.
GUAM responded to this challenge with its flagship initiative – the development of the GUAM Transport Corridor (map), aimed at uniting the national infrastructures of the Member States into a single, unified, modern, multimodal transport corridor. All the seas – the Azov, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea – are integral to the transport network. The seas should not separate but unite countries, be integrated into a new connectivity architecture, and be used for free and safe maritime shipping, not for warmongering and shelling rockets on civilian targets.
Map of the GUAM Transport Corridor
Designing and developing a new diversified, inclusive, integrated connectivity architecture and collectively ensuring the safety and security of its functioning can be one of the most important critical elements of the new system of international order. The work on its development should start now, as we all ponder and prepare for the post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction. New global initiatives have been announced earlier this year to address the matter – the Global Gateway Infrastructure Investment initiative of the EU and the Trans-Atlantic Initiative – the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment with enormous funds committed. Getting these tools up and running as soon as possible can speed up the whole process.
The GUAM, as the only full-fledged international organization and a stakeholder, is open, willing, and ready for cooperation to transform this area into a zone of peace, security, and development through implementing this and other initiatives.
We are confident that in safe and secure functioning of the GUAM TC as a vital international artery will be interested all global and regional players, hence, in the stability, security, and development of the full region. Therefore, we invite our partners and all interested in cooperation. Realizing this initiative can be one of the most important contributions to the objectives of the Crimea Platform.
Thank you for your attention!