The decisions taken at the GUAM summits - the Declaration called "In the Name of Democracy, Stability and Development" and the joint statement "Creating Democracy from the Baltic to the Black Sea", outlined the priorities of the authors of the union - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
However, to date, the effectiveness of GUAM remains low, as the large number of documents and agreements adopted at the Organization's summits is declarative and does not address the pressing issues of state relations. It can be stated that at times GUAM member countries are more driven by national economic interests in their decision-making processes, neglecting the political interests of their partners in the Organization.
However, the events in the South Caucasus and Ukraine confirm that some plans to eliminate GUAM are doomed to failure. The structure has a working chance of being transformed into a powerful international organization. Moreover, the political elites of the GUAM countries involved intend to achieve this goal.
GUAM united countries seeking real economic and regional cooperation. In this situation, the unification of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova cannot be regarded as a casual and temporary event. After all, these post-Soviet republics, who wished to create such an association and declared it at the Brussels Summit of the Council of Europe in October 1997, have experienced the bitter fate of ethnic (and not only) separatism.
In this respect, it is no coincidence that one of the characteristic features of GUAM from the first days of its formation was the desire of the member countries of the organization to integrate into the European space and reputable international structures. The initiators of the creation of a new geopolitical and geo-economic union wish to strengthen the national economy and create conditions for irreversibility of democratic reforms through joint implementation of energy and transport projects.
For 20 years, the formation, strengthening, strengthening, and most importantly - the search for ways to develop GUAM. Today, this stage is complete. Today, GUAM is an international structure in the Eurasian space, a bridge between Asia and Europe, a symbol of the independence of its member states.
GUAM is not "friendship against anyone". A number of analysts and experts, especially Russian, believe that the main goal of GUAM is to create a confrontation in the post-Soviet space. However, the philosophy of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Cooperation is rooted in the very name, which speaks of the closeness and unity of the countries united by the ideas of promoting democratic values and economic well-being of their peoples. There is not even a hint in the Charter or other working documents that GUAM is oriented against anyone - it is open to new contacts and is ready to cooperate with any existing organizations.
Meetings in the format of GUAM - Poland, GUAM - USA, GUAM - Japan, which show that the GUAM Four coalition is being transformed into an international organization beyond the geographically designated region, can be considered as an important circumstance. Japan, whose foreign ministry has previously developed a new concept called the Arch of Freedom and Well-Being, has included a separate unit in its cooperation with the organization For Democracy and Economic Development.
From this point of view, the definition of the President of Azerbaijan Ilxam Aliyev, who called GUAM the union of three seas - the Caspian, Black and Baltic - is soundly justified. As a result, a new geopolitical space is being built, which, in the long run, can be further expanded with the help of the created energy corridors due to the accession of the countries of the Mediterranean basin and the Baltic.
In this connection, the question arises: why is GUAM silent about the events in Ukraine?
The political establishment of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova is particularly interested in the events in Ukraine, and this is natural. Obviously, in order for GUAM to develop progressively, and for the corridor between Europe and Asia to work effectively, stable development of all, without exception, member countries of the Organization is necessary.
Today it is difficult to say that the GUAM countries have fully achieved their goals. The problem is that the GUAM Charter does not envisage providing military and technical assistance to a GUAM member who has found himself at war with a neighboring country. If this is implied in the case of NATO and the CSTO, then the GUAM Charter does not. Although, it is necessary to anticipate events, work for stability and security.
That is why GUAM detractors seek to downplay the role of the structure in every possible way, claiming that it will collapse in the near future. This star-dream can come true if official Baku leaves GUAM. So, the Russian political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov recently noted that the abbreviation GUAM can be considered as GUM. Probably, V. Nikonov suggests that official Baku will either leave the Organization or reduce its level of representation in GUAM. However, Azerbaijan is not going to do - neither one nor the other.
Domestic political changes in Chisinau will also not result in Moldova's withdrawal from GUAM, with all its political implications. Moldova will promote the adoption at the UN level of a document related to the problem of restoring the territorial integrity of all four GUAM countries. After all, they all equally suffer from the consequences of separatism and occupation by neighbors. To date, only two GUAM members, Georgia and Ukraine, have achieved success on this front in the United Nations.
One of the main achievements of GUAM should be considered as a unified position of member countries in such international organizations as the UN, OSCE, CoE, PACE, where countries stand in a united position. This is a very positive trend that will continue in the years to come.
The Charter of the Organization states that GUAM promotes the development of cooperation between the four countries to "strengthen stability and security in Europe". Despite internal political changes in Chisinau, Moldova will cooperate in GUAM + format, in particular with the EU and OSCE, as well as the USA, Japan and the Visegrad Group countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary).
With regard to GUAM's "frozen" conflicts initiative presented to the UN General Assembly, GUAM has never advocated the use of force in conflict resolution. The organization has two initiatives - the creation of a peacekeeping humanitarian contingent and the consideration of four conflicts as identical. GUAM does not adhere to a violent solution to the problem, and this initiative confirms the fact that Azerbaijan and other GUAM member countries are not committed to using force.
Today, for objective and subjective reasons, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are far more advanced than Azerbaijan into European structures. For this reason, the cooperation of Baku and Tbilisi, as well as Baku and Kiev, is a pragmatic way of European integration of the three strategic partners. The shortest way to Europe for Azerbaijan is through cooperation with all its GUAM partners. This is our common task.
Moreover, GUAM member countries should take into account the trends of a medium- and long-term world order. GUAM member countries are required to participate in the creation of an effective security system, both in the region and on the Eurasian continent. And in this crucial process, GUAM member countries must play a leading role. The goal of the GUAM member countries is to jointly combat the external threat expressed in the support of a number of separatist enclaves in the Organization. It should be noted that earlier, the Heads of Government of GUAM countries have declared support for each other's territorial integrity and have called for increased interaction in international structures to protect sovereignty.
GUAM is open to cooperation with its neighbors and influential international organizations, as the Organization's framework is no longer confined to the borders of the four participating countries. For example, GUAM actively cooperates with foreign countries, in particular with Poland, as well as the Baltic States and the Visegrad Group. Today GUAM is a full-fledged international organization, a bridge between Europe and Asia.
The proposed integration processes within GUAM should create a free trade area, a common market, a customs union, a monetary union, a transport union, an energy union and an effective regional security system. In this respect, the GUAM project is quite promising, especially since Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Poland and Romania can join it. In this case, the space of 4 seas will emerge: Caspian, Black, Mediterranean and Baltic. By the way, the format "3 + 3 + 1", which implies the cooperation of three South Caucasus countries with the Baltic States and Turkey, is able to modernize GUAM.
The TRACECA Trans-Caucasus Transport Corridor aims to connect the Caspian and Black Sea basins. The GUAM countries are located in the strategic Caspian-Black Sea region, which is under the control of a fierce geopolitical struggle. None of the geopolitical players can allow competitors to take control of the development of natural resources and the creation of new transport routes. Therefore, GUAM member countries need to participate in China's One Belt One Way project, a transport route that China must connect with the EU.
First, the in the medium term, the concept of European security can fundamentally change both politically and militarily. But in any case, an effective system of regional security for GUAM countries is important, both for ensuring their own security and for participating in international systems for the collective, including European, security of the future.
The 4 seas region has self-sufficient human, energy and transport potential. But this potential needs to be developed together, together. Everyone must participate in the creation of a continental security system, and only the participation of all can give a new model of world order, which we do not have today. However, all economic and future GUAM economic projects require their protection, as well as preventing the possibility of being attacked or harmed.
The national concept of any state requires protection of its geopolitical and geo-economic interests. From this point of view, the decision to create a GUAM peacekeeping force is the right choice for the future, especially given the existence of severe, not the first year of existing conflicts in the Organization.
Second, the the issue of use of Azerbaijani oil and gas reserves cannot be bypassed by GUAM participants. The data concerning only explored gas reserves in Azerbaijan cannot leave indifferent those countries which are interested in intermediary transit, services for sale, processing and consumption of the specified valuable raw materials. In the end, this whole chain, among other benefits, solves, perhaps, one of the most important contemporary problems - the creation of new jobs, which is very relevant for GUAM members, as well as for other participants in this international project.
The solution of energy problems is closely related to the development of existing and the introduction of new energy transport communications (BTK, TANAP and TAP), which is especially important for all without GUAM countries. It is known that at the Krakow Summit of GUAM and Baltic countries, a wide exchange of views was held on the commissioning of the new Ukrainian oil pipeline "Odessa - Brody" and its extension to Gdansk in Poland. It is known that all states interested in the rapid commissioning of this "pipe" unanimously expressed their political support for this endeavor. The case remained "small" - economic support for the project, in which Azerbaijan acts as a guarantor of the supply of the extracted hydrocarbon raw materials. However, how soon Azerbaijani oil will reach our Ukrainian and Polish partners - depends in large part on what official Kiev and official Warsaw are going to undertake in this direction? There is only one thing to do - invest financial resources in GUAM's energy projects.
Meanwhile, the press repeatedly discussed possible options for connecting to this project and other countries, in particular Kazakhstan, which is quite realistic provided the economic interests of official Nur-Sultan are respected. By the way, it is possible that in the near future Turkmenistan will join the energy projects of GUAM participants.
Third, there are deep geopolitical reasons that explain both what is happening in Ukraine today and its impact on other GUAM countries. Prominent American politician and analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his book The Great Chessboard, writes: “Ukraine, a new and important state on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical center because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Without Ukraine, restoration of the empire, whether on a CIS or Eurasian basis, would be a viable business. If Ukraine wants to maintain its independence, it will have to become part of Central Europe, not Eurasia, it will have to fully participate in its relations with NATO and the EU. "
The Kremlin is considering the need to move closer to Ukraine, first and foremost, in terms of geopolitical interests, since after the NATO expansion to the East, the security of all GUAM member countries largely depends on Ukraine's policies. In fact, Ukraine is a key geopolitical field that determines the outcome of US, EU and Russian rivalries. In case of Ukraine's final orientation to Europe, the progressive development of GUAM will become irreversible.
Rauf Rajabov, Orientalist, Head of Analytical Center 3RD VIEW, Baku, Azerbaijan