Address of Ambassador Valeri Chechelashvili Secretary General of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM (OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, April 30, 2015)
At the outset, I would like to express sincere gratitude to the OSCE Chairmanship, represented here by Ambassador Vuk Zugic, Chairman of the Permanent Counci for the invitation to address it.
I had already twice the honour of presenting the priorities, goals and objectives of our Organization to this distinguished audience, last time two years ago. I will not waste your time by repeating this message, but instead will focus on the most important events that have taken place over the past two years.
The activities of the organization are based on the solidarity of four member-states, the solid platform of cooperation, as well as the common challenges we are facing. Today, these challenges have become a source of anxiety for a much wider audience due to the annexation of the Crimea and other developments in Eastern Ukraine. With your permission, I’ll elaborate on the latter before addressing the theme of GUAM cooperation and OSCE-GUAM relations.
In Dublin, the OSCE Ministerial Council approved the Decision on the OSCE Helsinki+40 process. In reaffirming its full adherence to the Charter of the United Nations and to all OSCE norms, principles and commitments, starting from the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and all other OSCE Documents, the Ministerial Council called upon the forthcoming Chairmanships of Ukraine, Switzerland and Serbia to pursue the Helsinki+40 process on the basis of a coordinated strategic approach, adding a multi-year perspective and continuity to participating states’ efforts to work towards an effective security community. One year later in Kyiv, the process was supported by the issuance of the Ministerial Council Declaration on Furthering the Helsinki+40 process. We all remember what happened last year in Basel.
When this attractive idea emerged in Dublin, it was difficult to foresee what kind of developments we would face. Now it seems that the OSCE’s Serbian Chairmanship is tasked with extremely difficult mission.
Under current circumstances, the OSCE can provide the unique capacity to restore trust since this is the only wider European platform for interaction, which, at the same time, includes almost all global players. In this community, it is difficult for anybody to oppose the overwhelming majority, and this makes the chances for success higher. In addition, the level and quality of the challenges currently at hand require a collective, multilateral effort.
Last but not least, OSCE activities in Ukraine are of great practical value. For many in the war zone selfless work of OSCE observers is light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the added value of GUAM given the current state of affairs?
All our member states suffer from unresolved conflicts, some of which have lasted for decades. We are in the epicentre of problems, which is why our opinion should matter. These conflicts undermine peace, security and cooperation at both the regional and European levels. Triggered from outside and accompanied by foreign military interference, these conflicts could find peaceful resolution exclusively on the basis of the generally accepted norms and principles of international law, particularly those related to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states concerned within their internationally recognized borders. Strong and consistent support of the international community is critical to this end. Respectively, we are strengthening our solidarity and are sparing no efforts to consolidate the support of the international community and to motivate it towards more active engagement in the conflict resolution process, basing our position on Joint Declaration of the heads of state of our Organization on the issue of conflict settlement of 23 May 2006.
All of GUAM’s activities are streamlined in order to establish a space of stability and integration in the Black Sea – Caspian Sea region via the implementation of cooperation projects and programs, including both the four lateral ones and those being carried out with the support of external partners.
Let me highlight some specific areas of our priority attention:
• Free Trade Zone
We recognise the significant benefits that establishment of the free trade zone brings to stimulating business and economic opportunities and raising prosperity of the people of the member-states. In 2006 when the GUAM Free Trade Zone became fully operational (after GUAM Kyiv Summit on May 23, 2006) the GUAM internal trade stood at less than USD 2 billion in 2006. In a short period, by 2013, it already passed the benchmark of USD 4 billion. The well known developments of last year led to the drop in trade to USD 3.5 billion and we anticipate a further decrease of up to 20% this year. Yet, the acquired experience of our cooperation has convinced us of enormous potential for progressive growth. In addition to the free movement of goods, we have now started to consider the free movement of services. In perspective, after engaging all four freedom principles, we will be prepared for GUAM’s “Common market” idea.
The Tbilisi Declaration on Transport (February 13, 2013) at the level of Heads of GUAM member state institutions reaffirmed our resolve to broaden transport cooperation and expand transit through the territories of GUAM member states. The “Development Concept for the GUAM Transport Corridor” aims our efforts at making our transit potential more attractive, both through infrastructure development and the legal framework.
Sustainable energy solutions represent a priority area for each of the member-states. We are currently focusing on the project “Promoting Green Economy in GUAM countries: Promoting renewable energy sources”, organised within the GUAM-Japan cooperation framework, with the financial support of Japan and in cooperation with the REC. It envisages development of effective networking of respective representatives of state institutions, academic and business circles, thus expanding the capacity for regional cooperation in the sphere of energy. The ultimate goal is to create, in cooperation with European and Japanese experts, a GUAM map of solar and wind energy development opportunities, to promote the attractiveness of the GUAM space for renewable energy sources investment.
• Fighting Crime and Terrorism
To spearhead cooperation in this field and aiming at more effective responses on national and regional level the GUAM Working Group on the Coordination of Combating Crime (WGCCC) was set up. It includes five Working Sub-Groups focusing on combating drug trafficking; corruption and money laundering; trafficking in human beings and illegal migration; terrorism; law statistics.
Cooperation in the GUAM framework is significantly enhanced by joint implementation of projects with external partners, in particular the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, US Department of State, and the UNODC. I wish to particularly note successful implementation of such projects as:
— Strengthening Capacities of GUAM Member States to Cooperate at the National and Regional Levels in Combating Money-Laundering, as well as in Seizing and Confiscating Crime Proceeds (jointly with UNODC). The project has been focused on improving inter-agency cooperation, including FIUs, police, prosecutor offices, customs and tax authorities;
— Participation in the UNODC Afghan Opiate Trade Project (AOTP), which focuses on strengthening the joint efforts of GUAM Member States in addressing drug trafficking;
— Cryptographic Protection System for the GUAM Virtual Center on Combating Terrorism, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking and Other Dangerous Types of Crime (VLEC). This will substantially upgrade the capacity of integrated GUAM law enforcement cooperation in fighting organised crime and terrorism;
— VLEC Infrastructure Extension. Its implementation will enable the competent state agencies and units of GUAM member states to create wider network for combating crime.
Reflecting upon emergence of new threats and challenges, a new working body of GUAM – a Working Group on Cyber Security – was established at the end of last year. We have also placed on the agenda of GUAM working groups the issue of setting up a joint crime data bank.
The globalisation of security issues, aggravated by protracted armed conflicts, has enhanced the importance of regional cooperation as many of these problems could be better addressed on a regional scale. In this context, GUAM has been developing active cooperation with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee, the OSCE, the EU, the Council of Europe (CODEXTER), and the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC).
The appropriate agencies of our member states, with GUAM’s organisational support, are participating in the Project “Information Networks along the Heroin Route” as part of Phase II of the programme “Fighting organised crime and drug trafficking along the Heroin Routes”, financed by the EU Instrument for Stability. This project aims to promote regional and trans-regional co-operation, and assist law enforcement along the route to develop future operational strategies against heroin trafficking.
Sectoral cooperation, based on the principles of cost efficiency and complementarily, offers a stable platform for building institutional links between GUAM and the OSCE. GUAM is interested in extending partnership in the sphere of the “second basket” of the OSCE, where the latter has excellent experience and history in terms of project implementation. These projects cover, in particular, the issues of trafficking hazardous and other waste, ozone-depleting substances, rare and endangered species. As such, in the period of 2008-14, the OSCE conducted ten regional workshops on preventing and detecting environmental crimes, mostly for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, whereas its impact was proliferated via GUAM to its other member states.
In May 2014 in Kyiv, the GUAM Secretariat, in conjunction with the OSCE, hosted an online international seminar (a joint video conference). The event focused on the OSCE experience in identifying and preventing trans-boundary ecological crimes. The seminar’s output improved GUAM member states’ national capacity for analysing risks, detecting and preventing this specific type of international crime.
GUAM is looking towards extending cooperation with the OSCE in any other sphere of common interest. Based on the benefits gained from the history of our interaction, I’m confident that we could consider developing joint programs of cooperation. These programs may include, for example, such specific areas as risk-mitigating activities, in particular, in the spheres of nuclear and radiological security, preventing radioactive, chemical and biological terrorism, as well as addressing cyber security issues that are tackled within the newly established GUAM Working Group.
We very much value traditional cooperation with external partners. Earlier I mentioned our cooperation with the USA in fighting various manifestations of organised crime. We are entering a qualitatively new stage of cooperation with Japan. On July 16-17 of this year, the GUAM delegation (National Coordinators and the GUAM SG) will pay a working visit to Tokyo, Japan, in order to participate in the Second GUAM-Japan Dialogue, organised by the Global Forum of Japan, and also hold meetings in MFA of Japan. We are confident that these meetings will lead us to a qualitatively new level of cooperation.
I cannot mention enough the 69th UN GA Resolution of March 26 of this year on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development — GUAM, the second one acknowledging our Organization’s role and place in the network of regional cooperation, which will contribute to better cooperation with UN specialised agencies, based on our already good practice of cooperation with the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime. In UN, for as is very important as well to obtain the support of OSCE participating states for GUAM initiatives on protracted conflicts within the UN General Assembly.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate the importance of the OSCE, as the only universal platform for pan-European cooperation, and once again express gratitude to Ambassador Vuk Zugic, the Chairperson of the Permanent Council for inviting me to address the Permanent Committee, and to provide you with information on our activities and listen to your comments.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman