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May 26, 06

NEWS / GUAM: Ukraine and friends challenge Moscow

Poland supports a new free trade area and international organization which emerged as the leaders of the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement in Kiev. GUAM will first of all cooperate on trade and energy security issues. And this initiative could lead the road for improved economical and political relations between these countries and the European Union.

Report by Gabriel Stille


Following a summit meeting between Presidents of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan, the cooperation between the GUAM countries have evolved to a full scale economical and political organization.

The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev:

This summit is an event of historic significance, because the GUAM has transformed to the organization for democracy and development, and embarked on a new stage, which will predetermine our nations development and integration processes in our region. It will also facilitate the process of strengthening democracy. In other words, our organisation will embrace all areas and directions that predetermine the development of each member country. Since the GUAM was founded ten years ago, our nations have gone through hard times, but they have proven to be viable. We pursuit independent policies, based on national interests, and we are open for cooperation.

Adopting a closer cooperation on many fields, the countries have responded to mutual problems. Even thought it primarily an affair for its member states, the GUAM summit might also have an impact on the relations with Poland and the rest of the European Union, both in terms of economy and politics.

Stanislaw Gomulka, chief economist at the PZU Group in Warsaw:

This kind of local agreement is a response to two developments, one is the enlargement of the European Union, to Central European countries, this is basically a free trade agreement which actually poses some problems for countries like Ukraine and others, so this is a kind of defensive reaction to this enlargement. And secondly, it is a defensive reaction to the policy of Russia, towards some of those countries. We know that Russia recently tried to discriminate against imports from some of the countries, like Georgia and Moldavia. You have problems in the energy field between Ukraine and Russia.

Closest to Poland is Ukraine, which have been instrumental in creating the GUAM as a road towards full scale integration with Europe. Ukranian president Yushchenko was confident that this a step in the right direction. But what about the expectations of a fast track to Europe, among the Europe-friendly parts of Ukraine close to Poland?

Halyna Pastushuk, reporter based in Lviv, Western Ukraine:

I think that expectations are different, and it is difficult to speak on the behalf of the whole of Ukraine. Certainly if we take into account, that after the latest enlargement of the EU, for Ukraine the EU became on of the biggest trade partners, and around 38 % of import and export is going between EU and Ukraine, while Ukraine for EU is still making 1 % of trade circulation.

Whether this new shape of GUAM will improve the member states relations with the west, and help deal with Russian pressure, remains to be seen, but the countries of the former Soviet southwest is clearly on their way.



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