On December 23, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Elizabeth Jones met with Ambassadors from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan to discuss future cooperation between the United States and GUUAM. At the meeting, both sides agreed to the next steps for a joint U.S.-GUUAM project on trade and transportation facilitation and law enforcement. Through these projects, the United States and GUUAM further their common goals of combating terrorism and transnational crime, and encouraging effective multilateral cooperation.

Our constructive dialogue over the last three years has led to a consensus that now is the time to move forward with concrete, multilateral projects to facilitate regional security and encourage economic development. At the July 2002 meeting in Yalta, GUUAM countries signed an ‘Agreement on Cooperation in the Battle Against Terrorism, Organized Crime and Other Dangerous Types of Crime.” In New York in September 2002, US Assistant Secretary Jones and the GUUAM Foreign Ministers called for concerted action to increase regional stability and foster multilateral cooperation. Recently, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with GUUAM Ambassadors in Washington, D.C. to discuss the specifics of forward movement for joint U.S.-GUUAM action to achieve these ends. These meetings have cumulated in agreement to move forward with a joint “Framework Program”: this includes cooperation on the facilitation of trade and transportation, securing border and customs control, and combating terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking.

As part of the “Framework Program”, the United States is committed to funding the exploratory stages of a trade and transport initiative (providing customs and border advisers and training) and a GUUAM law enforcement center. In addition, GUUAM member countries would be given the opportunity to negotiate concessional loans with the World Bank to upgrade infrastructure at border points. The law enforcement initiative would begin by facilitating a data exchange and establishing a “virtual” center, with rotating meetings in each of the GUUAM capitals of expert level working groups. The First meeting of the center will take place in Baku in February 2003 with the participation of U.S. representatives.

Senior-level experts from the United States and GUUAM will continue to work on implementation of these projects. Both sides agreed to hold regular, joint expert consultations during the scheduled GUUAM working level meetings with customs and boarder control authorities as well as during the next meeting of the Working group on combating terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking. The United States commended GUUAM for forward movement on other projects, such as establishing an information center in Kyiv, the creation of and inter-parliamentary assembly and the implementation of a regional free trade zone. The United States supported the idea of a free trade zone for the region and agreed to future consultations to facilitate this project.

The GUUAM countries expressed their interest in the future development of projects and programs on a multilateral basis that would be complementary to and supplement activities under the U.S. bilateral assistance programs. Both sides looked forward to the new level of cooperation these joint projects would bring.