At the outset, let me welcome the Secretary General of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development Ambassador Altai Efendiev to the Permanent Council meeting and thank him for the insightful address. We are indeed pleased to have the opportunity to listen to Mr. Efendiev today and herewith, highlight the importance of maintaining the tradition. On behalf of the Georgian Chairmanship of GUAM, I thank the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship for this opportunity.

Georgia aligns itself with the EU statement delivered by Ambassador Bechet, yet I would like to make some national remarks.

Georgia is honored to chair GUAM in this special year, as 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of this regional format. Since its initiation, GUAM has transformed into a full-fledged institutional Organization for regional cooperation, based on partnership and mutual respect of its Member States. Georgia has always been a devoted and active promoter of GUAM, advocating its interests on the wider international fora. During the past 20 years, the Organization has gained solid experience in implementing joint and mutually beneficial projects in many different spheres.

Georgia is holding its Chairmanship under the Chairmanship Program «Together for Stronger GUAM» which aims at fostering cooperation in all spheres of our mutual interest and promotion of all core issues of GUAM agenda.

Despite our common efforts, let me stress that achievements and success of the Organization are significantly shadowed by the unresolved conflicts in the GUAM area. We all agree that without solving these conflicts, there is no future for Security and stability in the OSCE area. Therefore, wide international support and adequate response to the continuous violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the GUAM Member States as well as safeguarding the fundamental right of IDPs and refugees to safe and dignified return to their places of origin are vital and imperative.

In conclusion, we believe that there is a space for the OSCE-GUAM cooperation and as a member of both organizations and GUAM Chair country, we will be glad to see close cooperation in various spheres for the benefit of our mutual interests.

Thank you.

Vienna, June 8, 2017