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Appeal of GUAM and eventual implications

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Igor Botan / September 30, 2006
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Expression of joint and individual stances

The May 22 Kiev GUAM summit decided to sanction this regional organisation and to establish its priorities, including the settlement of the separatist conflicts in member states. The first great success of GUAM after the Kiev summit was to defeat the resistance of the Russian Federation, which has opposed the inclusion of the problem of “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development” on the agenda of the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Joint stance of GUAM members

The GUAM members have expressed a joint stance regarding the “protracted conflicts”, exposing this standpoint in the Explanatory Memorandum of the request on additional inclusion of this problem on the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly. The document says that: The protracted conflicts have affected the lives of more than 16 million people for more than 15 years, threatening the international peace and security, jeopardising the sovereignty and territorial unity of three U.N. member states, making them lose control on a large part of their sovereign territories and leading to a permanent occupation of a big region of a sovereign state, causing an inflow of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, obstructing the social-economic development of nations from that region. Regretfully, the international negotiations on settlement of the conflicts have failed. They have only prolonged the conflicts. The protracted conflicts defy the security, encourage the terrorism, aggressive separatism, organised crime, trafficking in human beings, trafficking in drugs, proliferation of light arms in territories uncontrolled by legitimate authorities.

The memorandum did not name Russia at all, but the latter observed a hint at itself.

Although they expressed a joint standpoint, representatives of GUAM members have highlighted their own problems and opinions in their speeches:


Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili was the first representative of GUAM who addressed the General Assembly on September 22. He said regarding the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia:


Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk laid the emphasis in a much artificial and generalised manner in his September 25 speech, saying that:


The foreign minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, has highlighted the procedural difficulties that halt the U.N. member states to introduce the problems it faces on the agenda of the General Assembly, indicating especially the obstacles faced by GUAM members. The Azerbaijani official indicated the main reference points in his September 25 speech:

Republic of Moldova

Moldova’s Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan delivered his speech on September 26. He welcomed the inclusion of the problem of “protracted conflicts” in the GUAM area on agenda of the General Assembly, noting that this success was achieved in spite of resistance of some member states and expressing gratitude to those who contributed to this accomplishment. The Moldovan minister laid the following emphases:

Russia’s conduct

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, just on the first day of presentation of stances of member states regarding the agenda. Problems of special interest for GUAM members were touched besides global issues of general interest:

The speech of Minister Lavrov and the behaviour of Russia, except for the precise outlining of natural interests and concerns of the Russian Federation, raise serious puzzle for their open duplicity. The call of Minister Lavrov for more rights of regional organisations and permission of all U.N. member states to exercise their rights via this organisation is interesting as it’s nothing but a mockery on background of obstacles raised by Russian diplomacy against inclusion of the problem of “protracted conflicts” on the agenda of the General Assembly, conflicts fuelled and sometimes inspired by Russia to threaten with annexation of some regions of sovereign states through illegal referendums financed by the Russian Federation. More than that, the Russian Federation ignores the ECHR judgments, the multiple calls of the E.U., OSCE and CoE, own international commitments, etc. which could contribute to the settlement of at least some of frozen conflicts. The invocation by Mr. Lavrov of the positive example of CIS, a commonwealth in which the “frozen conflicts” are perpetuating for dozens of years, where economic sanctions are applied without being able to appeal to arbitrage institutions, etc. is also curious.

About “double standards”

The way the Russian Federation opposes to “double standards” which it attributes to the West also raises interest. Thus, on one hand Russian authorities criticise vehemently the modality of settlement of bloody conflicts in the Balkans with participation of western countries and their institutions, while on the other hand the same Russian authorities threaten to follow the “negative precedents” created by the West.

Firstly, the West has got involved in settling the hot conflicts in the Balkans after some facts of genocide have become evident, as well as after Russia has demonstrated its capacity to settle the separatist conflict in Chechnya. Secondly, if Russia claims to be better than the West, why does it threat to follow the “Kosovo precedent”, the example that it considers negative? Does Russia manifest its revanchism this way? Why it does this on account of some small and helpless states, if the problem consists in the West’s conduct? If Russia’s claim that it has recently elaborated the “original” formula, which says that the rights of states are above individual rights, are grounded then why it would not apply this principle in relations with GUAM members, supporting them in the conflict with separatist leaders who are citizens of the Russian Federation, the way it has acted toward separatist Chechen leaders? Why does Russia want that the eventual “Kosovo precedent” be universal, but it does not want that the precedent of its attitude toward separatist Chechen leaders be also universal (not to mix up terrorists with separatist Chechen leaders)? Why the “combat of separatism is a basic pillar” in relations with member states of the Shanghai Organisation, especially in relations with China, and the support for separatism is the “pillar” concerned in relations with some CIS states? Why did Russia hurry up to support and finance the referendum in Transnistria before the eventual referendum in Kosovo? Who creates “negative precedents” in this case?

Of course, much more questions of this kind may be raised. Perhaps they have contributed to the “internationalisation of protracted conflicts” before taking them before the U.N. General Assembly. But these questions must also suggest that the Russian Federation has described the achievement of GUAM members as “counterproductive and meaningless.” If the Russian authorities affirm this, it means that it will also take the “appropriate” measures to demonstrate this fact. The first measure was made public with two days after the first GUAM representative has addressed the U.N. The chief sanitary doctor of Russia, Gennady Onishchenko, said on September 25 without being provoked and without any context that “the Moldovan wines will never come back to the Russian market,” while importers of Georgian wines will undergo special controls.


  1. The introduction of “protracted conflicts” on agenda of the U.N. General Assembly means reaching the limit of “internationalisation” of conflicts and unquestionable defamation of Russia’s “peacekeeping” claims. This could mean that GUAM members and their supporters will treat Russia at international level as part of the problem of frozen conflicts, not as part of their solution from now on. However, the settlement of frozen conflicts without Russia’s contribution will be impossible. The bad thing is that Russia has demonstrated readiness to take revenge for the “revolt of its former vassals.”
  2. The “achievement” of GUAM cannot have an immediate impact. If GUAM maintains its agenda and coherent actions, the impact of its accomplishment could be manifested under favourable conditions. Russia itself is preparing the favourable conditions for manifestation of the impact of the appeal of GUAM, since it has concomitantly opened several “fronts” against big western companies working inside and outside of Russia, against the West’s interests in the Middle East, Iran, in the effervescence linked to its ascension. Russia has one very strong and efficient weapon for all these assaults, — the energetic weapon. Hence it is not universal. Firstly, it cannot be gradually and secretly applied; it must be applied rapidly in order to ensure chances to the successor of President Putin to governing and his post-presidential comfort. The development of interests and methods used by Russia will also attract its replying reactions, which should be “adequate” and for benefit of all, including of GUAM. For this purpose, GUAM members should firstly survive in order to see the impact of their “accomplishments”. The potential of surviving of GUAM members is very different, while arsenals of Russian sanitary doctors as well as of ecological inspectors are endless. Nobody can wish to be the adversary of Russia, but the solidarity of GUAM member states indicate the constraint to act this way.
  3. The experience of 15 years of “independence” has taught the “new independent states” that they must be extremely careful over what marginal politicians from Russia say, more careful than toward what authorities of this country say in a right and diplomatic manner. The marginal politicians anticipate the future actions of authorities. It was not an occurrence that President Putin has awarded state orders to marginal politicians Zhirinovsky, Baburin, Zatulin. If the deputy chairman of the State Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, affirms that it will be the turn of Ukrainian South and Crimea after separatist referendums in Moldova and Georgia, this is a reason for Ukraine to take these statements into consideration. This fact explains why Ukraine must maintain its role of GUAM leader.
  4. Why does Russia need all these? — this is the fundamental question. What are the collateral effects of the “Putin-style ascension” of Russia? Surveys conducted by Russian sociological researchers reveal that unfortunately all Russia may be likened to a huge “Candopoga”. But a “Candopoga with an energy weapon” will unlikely represent the essence of a country which wants the fame of enigmatic country to be confirmed at all costs, though it claims that it has got ennobled so much that it will not accept “Moldovan spirit containing liquids” on its market any longer.
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