At the outset, let me express sincere gratitude to the International Centre for Democratic Transition and Visegrad Group for the idea to organize this important Conference, which is excellent opportunity to share experience and exchange views on different matters of international and regional cooperation. I also would like to thank previous speakers, who represented respective
distinguished international cooperation initiatives.
It goes without saying that experience of Visegrad group is of particular interest ant significance, as soon as it is vivid demonstration of the fact, how multilateral cooperation format can complement and support foreign policy of individual member state.
This is where I see similarities between GUAM and Visegrad Group – we are also four, have very close, if not coinciding set of foreign policy priorities and consider GUAM as format, reinforcing position of individual member state in the network of international relations. It worth mentioning, that the one of 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 soon will be under new one – Eastern Partnership. I’ll return to it little bit later.
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. It is in full compliance with respective Action Plans of our member states, agreed with EU under the European Neighborhood Program. 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.
GUAM has its advantages. In this part of Europe it is one of few, international full-fledged organizations of regional cooperation with well-institutionalized format of interaction. Particular and undisputable advantage of GUAM is the fact, that member-states share common values in addition to foreign policy priorities, as it was stated above. As a result, decision-making process is dynamic and efficient. This is exactly why our Organization had tackled problems and implemented projects, impossible for other neighboring initiatives even to pick up. Namely – GUAM Free Trade Zone and Virtual Law Enforcement Centre were established.
GUAM internal trade, less than 2 billion USD in the year of 2006 (GUAM Free Trade Zone was established on GUAM Kyiv Summit of 23 May 2006), hit the ceiling of 4 billion USD in 2008, despite world financial crisis and Russian aggression to Georgia in last August, which particularly undermined international trade and transport, as central highway and railway were blocked, number of critical bridges destroyed. Nevertheless, internal GUAM trade impressively upgraded. Accordingly we consider the level of 10 billion USD GUAM internal trade by year of 2012 is quite realistic.
In the framework of Virtual Law Enforcement Centre set of common activities is being developed with the priorities of illegal drug trafficking and illegal human trafficking. Respective Working group on combating terrorism and organized crime is interacting actively, assessing current cooperation and drawing guidelines for future interaction. “NARCOSTOP – 3” integrated operation conducted through VLEC in the fall of 2008 is the vivid demonstration of the fact, that law enforcement cooperation in GUAM format is gaining new quality. Protocol to the Agreement on Cooperation among the Governments of GUUAM Participating States in the Field of Combat against Terrorism, Organized Crime and Other Dangerous Types of Crime of 20 July 2002, which will be signed By GUAM Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki, will further facilitate cooperation of our law enforcement Agencies.
GUAM is an Organization based on the developed network of mechanisms and instruments of interaction including GUAM Strategy for Sector Cooperation Development, serving as roadmap for Working Group activities. Secretariat, located in the very heart of Kyiv, Maidan Nezalejnosti – Independence Square, inaugurated on 26 February this year, according to GUAM statutory documents, provides to Member states technical and organizational support, based on new technological opportunities – interactive dialogue capacity and video conference system.
We believe that this stage of our development is particularly important. After high level political interaction was ensured in Organization, we are advancing to the stage of generating and implementing of GUAM projects and Programs of cooperation, some of them being already in the pipeline (in addition to Free Trade Zone and Virtual Law Enforcement Centre, to name a few, following GUAM projects can be mentioned: “Concept of GUAM Transport Corridor”, “Common Tourist Product”, “GUAM Common Telecommunication Space” etc.). It implies further improvement of our culture of cooperation and quality of targets. Thanks to the contribution of the Member States we have upgraded our cooperative capacity. We express our thanks to all those who have contributed to this task, including our external partners – USA, Poland, Czech Republic and Japan. We are open for cooperation with any external partner – being it state, international organization or just legal person, provided this cooperation is based on the principles of international law and principles of GUAM Statutory Documents.
Having in the mind limits of time, I would like to limit my statement here and invite 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.
To conclude with, I would like to reiterate my sincere gratitude to ICDT personnel for excellent organization of this meeting and traditional Hungarian hospitality, provided to us.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
Budapest, 27 March 2009