- Expressing gratitude to the organizers – the initiative is timely and important.
- The period of last 18 months was the most turbulent in recent European history. Economic and financial crisis, energy disputes, ecological, environmental problems, rising of political tensions and diminishing trust, accusations of neighbors and finally war in Europe – first in this century on the continent. Hopefully the last.
- I would like to share with you some ideas, how regional cooperation initiative, in particular GUAM, can contribute to better integration and stability, providing at the end of the day better safety and higher living standards.
- The main goal of GUAM is to establish space of stability and integration in the Black sea – Caspian Sea region; space of partnership, based on the European standards, criterias and practice. While implementing this main goal, we are using two main avenues of cooperation: 1) elaboration, signature and implementation of GUAM format multilateral legal instruments, and 2) generation, elaboration and implementation of GUAM projects and programs. Our member states’ top foreign policy priority is approximation to the European Union. We are under the same policy instrument of European Union – European Neighborhood and now – Eastern Partnership.
- This opens new perspectives of our cooperation with EU, as we are ready to offer our well-institutionalized network of cooperation to EU for implementing latter’s goals and objectives under the umbrella of Eastern Partnership, thus promoting values and principles of European cooperation beyond current EU borders and contributing to better cost – effectiveness of implementation process.
- All regional initiatives have their comparative advantages and disadvantages: one may compare BSEC and GUAM, it gives clear comparative picture;
- What is comparative advantage of BSEC? This is full-pledged regional cooperation organization serving as an universal platform for regional cooperation, including all regional players, with their varying agendas and ambitions – it is excellent platform for exchanging views and ideas for cooperation through well-institutionalized structure of cooperation. At the same time it faces dramatic lack of consensus reaching capacity – for obvious reasons. Bilateral relations between many pairs of members are far from ideal, some are without diplomatic relations.
- GUAM can capitalize on the experience of BSEC; ideas discussed, but not implemented in BSEC can be picked up and implemented in GUAM; On the other hand, implementing projects and programs of cooperation, GUAM is contributing to better understanding in BSEC, as consolidated GUAM position means that consensus should be reached not between 12, but between 9;
- Disadvantage of GUAM is the limited participation; it is not definitely universal platform of regional cooperation. Advantage – good capacity of reaching consensus and consequently opportunity to develop regional cooperation and regional projects more smoothly and effectively; that creates positive impact to the activities of neighboring regional initiatives.
- About developments since Russian-Georgian war of last year and its implications for wider Europe in general and regional cooperation in particular:
- After that war we live in different world: Russian officials call it new reality and state they’ll not retreat. Sometimes new realities definitely emerge in international relations, although it makes great difference, whether one country, even such a big and powerful, is trying to impose so called “new reality” to international community, or this new reality is elaborated and sealed by whole international community, as it happened in Helsinki in 1975;
- Consequently, current position of Russian Federation is considerably limiting the capacity of international organizations to develop activities in general and concrete projects and programs of cooperation in particular;
- As a consequences of this war, which resulted in the occupation of Georgia’s 20% of territory, Russia violated, among others, basic documents of BSEC – to name a few, Bosphorus Declaration of 25 June 1992 and BSEC Charter, ratified also by Russian Parliament. What was the reaction of the BSEC Organization? There was no reaction, to my knowledge. Does it mean that authority and reputation of this Organization is downgraded? Does it mean that atmosphere in the Organization was deteriorated and capacity to implement common projects was reduced? For example, under the Russian Chairmanship back in 2001 very impressive decisions, say, on “Black Sea Ring Corridor” were made – I have in mind Sochi Joint Statement of Transport Ministers of BSEC Member states of 30 March 2001. Under the current Bulgarian Chairmanship next meeting of BSEC Transport Ministers is scheduled. I hope it will consider implementation of main regional projects of BSEC, like Black Sea Ring Corridor. I wish this conference success. Although, under the circumstances, when 300 kilometers of Georgian Black Sea coast are occupied by neighboring BSEC state, there are very limited perspectives for the implementation of regional transport projects in BSEC format, if any. I’ll be very happy, if BSEC Transport conference will prove that I’m wrong in my assessment. As a conclusion, one may assert, there is deficit of trust to documents signed in BSEC format, because they can be violated anytime without institutionalized reaction.
- How this war affected GUAM? Position of GUAM further consolidated, based on GUAM basic documents, first and foremost “Joint Declaration of the heads of state of the ODED-GUAM on the issue of conflict settlement”. GUAM member states aligned themselves with the respective EU statements, thus consolidating their common platform of cooperation.
- To conclude with, I would like to emphasize that main security challenge, Europe is faced with is occupation of part of neighboring state by Russia. Heidi Tagliavini Report reads, that “the shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia, yet it was only the culminating point of a long period of increasing tensions, provocations and incidents.” The Report says, that “there was support from Russia for the insurrectionists, yet it seems that the Russian political elite and power structures were divided on the issue”, and quote “there are a number of reports and publications, including of Russian origin, indicating the provision by the Russian side of training and military equipment to South Ossetian and Abkhaz forces prior to the August 2008 conflict.” In other words permanent member of UN Security Council was during years engaged in provocations. State, who during years, again quote “tried to establish a privileged zone of interest in its “near abroad”. If not confronted with concerted actions, this mentality will cause dramatic implications for wider Europe. I am fully convinced, this is the main challenge, Europe is and will be faced with in the years to come.
- Those who are interested in GUAM to visit our web-site – www.guam-organization.org in order to find more information about our organization – both basic and operational.
- Expressing gratitude to the organizers.
Kyiv, 17 December 2009