Dear colleagues and friends!
It gives me a great pleasure to participate in this meeting, which constitutes an important step for the further development of the GUUAM-US dialogue. We all remember that this particular dialogue has been launched at the meeting between the GUUAM Participating States Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the US Secretary of State in Vienna in November 2000 and continued at our meeting with the US Undersecretary of State in November last year.
Regardless someone’s biased statements and pessimistic remarks concerning future of our Grouping, the GUUAM nevertheless has been consistently moving on the way of deepening and broadening its interactivity and partnership, based on a solid ground of common interests and common aspirations. As we know a number of significant documents, which enshrine fundamental goals of GUUAM and are aimed at achievement of strategic missions, were adopted at the Yalta Summit on 19-20 July 2002 in this regard I would also like to use today’s opportunity to hail the presence of Ambassador Taylor, Coordinator for the US assistance to the NIS and Mr. Pascual, the US Ambassador in Ukraine, at the GUUAM Yalta Summit on July 19-20, 2002 in the capacity of official guests. This step has once again stressed the seriousness of the US interest towards GUUAM and its clear intentions to engage in full-fledged cooperation with the Grouping.
I believe we all agree that our intentions to cooperate are based on a great potential that we need to explore and exploit for the mutual benefit of all our nations. The process of globalization and development of new technologies has opened up new prospects that used to be hardly seen before and opportunities that we do not have right to miss. First and foremost it applies to such important fields of economy as transportation and communications. Located at important transit crossroads the GUUAM Member States have great importance for routes of transportation between East and West, Europe and Asia. Development of transportation infrastructures does positively affect strengthening both domestic and foreign economic links of GUUAM. Furthermore it is indispensable for the GUUAM Free Trade Area that was established in Yalta less than two months ago. Once started its appropriate functioning this Area will play vital role in the process of economic development and social stabilization in the whole GUUAM region and its rapid integration into the global system.
However we will not succeed in development of transport corridors until and unless we pay due attention to the whole range of threats, risks and challenges to their security. Moreover, such negative phenomena as terrorism, organized crime, various forms of extremism, illicit trade of weapons and nuclear materials, human trafficking and illegal migration create serious obstacles for sustainable development of our states and regional stability in general. Once underestimated and left with inadequate attention these negative challenges can ruin all our hopes.
In order not to let this disastrous scenario become a cruel reality we all have to unify our efforts and to fight all the threats and risks mentioned above in a resolute manner. We cannot do this having no relevant action plans and road maps.
In this connection, dear colleagues, we have to intensify development of both middle» and long-term cooperation projects and programs in various fields of common interest. I want to appreciate highly the readiness of our American partners to render assistance in this vital sphere, as it was expressed by the US Secretary of State H.E. Mr. Collin Powell in his letter, addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
I suppose we all agree that fight against terrorism constitutes the most important field of our cooperation, as it was particularly indicated in the GUUAM-US Joint Statement of 14 November 2001, which stressed crucial importance of mutual cooperation, especially, in security of transport corridors, preventing drag trafficking, illegal weapon trade and migration. In this regard I would like to invite the experts of the relevant US authorities to take part in the next meeting of the GUUAM Working Group on fight against terrorism, organized crime and narcotrafficking, which is planned to be held in Baku in October 2002.
Within the GUUAM-US cooperation framework we can consider the project aimed at creation of information-communication system for exchange of information between relevant authorities involved in fight against terrorism and organized crime. Another project that can also become a subject for detailed discussions is a programme of training of the border guard personnel for acting under the border crisis conditions.
At this high forum I deem it necessary to draw the attention of our distinguished American partners to such fundamental documents adopted at the Yalta Summit 2002 as the Declaration on Common Efforts to Ensure Stability and Security in the Region and Agreement on Cooperation among the Governments of GUUAM Participating States in the Field of Combat Against Terrorism, Organized Crime and Other Dangerous Types of Crimes. These documents constitute important basis for the GUUAM cooperation in respective spheres. I have no doubts that assistance in their proper implementation could become subject for numerous projects of the GUUAM-US cooperation.
Yet there is still another direction of cooperation in this field left unnamed so far. All the GUUAM Member States do recognize that money laundering is a serious crime, which is being extremely often used for financing terrorism. We all cooperate actively with the USA and relevant international institutions to eradicate this type of criminal activity. At the Yalta Summit Heads of our States tasked the Governments to thoroughly examine the issue of establishing close interaction of GUUAM with the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF). I hope that rendering assistance to the development of these relations could become an important pillar of the GUUAM-US dialogue, as this particular sphere contains numerous subjects for various mutually beneficial cooperation projects and programmes.
As a relatively new regional arrangement the GUUAM is extremely interested in the research activities that are able to identify major common needs and ways to address them, including those within the GUUAM-US dialogue. In this connection we would like to appreciate highly such events as the workshop USA’GUUAM Strategic Partnership in the War against Terrorism held at the James Madison University in Washington, D.C. on 30 April 2002 and the seminar GUUAM: Cooperating to Build Regional Security held at the George С Marshall Center for European Security Studies in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany on 22-25 July 2002. We consider these events as very important for all of the Member States in particular and the Group in general, as well as for our American partners. These discussions help us to better understand our common goals, individual capacities and potential for interaction. However, these kinds of research and discussion fora can only yield significant results if and when correlated to the daily practice and continued in a regular manner.
It is with a deep regret and great sorrow that we commemorated first anniversary of the tragic events of September 11 few days ago. Barbaric terrorist attacks perpetrated on this black day of the world history have clearly and pitilessly demonstrated how vulnerable are we all in the face of evil. Once again they have unequivocally set a choice before the humankind: either we will join our efforts and walk shoulder to shoulder on the rocky way towards final victory or we will be defeated one by one watching each other’s struggle as its individual cause until the evil comes for us eventually. I think the choice is natural and we will not waste time thinking over which option to select. If we want our children to live in the world, which is more secure and stable, we cannot afford the luxury of being long on words, but short on actions. Because the evildoers do not. And it is the major imperative we need to bear in mind constantly.