In late 2016, some western political strategists suddenly remembered GUAM, a half-forgotten U.S. project entitled “Organization for Democracy and Economic Development.” The occasion was a Baku-based roundtable discussion of GUAM’s future. But that future looks vague as over the past 20 years, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova have failed to find a worthy place in the world community and to solve any crucial problem.
It was strange to see representatives of the Visegrad Group in Baku. Today, V4 - Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – represent the “face” of NATO and the European Union and are all but eager to inject “fresh blood” into dying GUAM. Nor are they able to share any experience in how to promote democracy and freedom as in the Atlantic family they have lost the key component of their national dignity – the sovereign right to take independent political decisions.
Some experts blame western “democrats” for GUAM’s inefficiency. So, the Baku conference was a kind of a gesture that Europe has not forgotten the group – and it couldn’t as GUAM was designed as a counterbalance to Russia and the CIS in the post-Soviet area. No coincidence that GUAM was established in Oct 1997 during an EU summit in Strasbourg, with its first two meetings held in the United States.
During the first years, GUAM was GUUAM. It involved Uzbekistan and was aiming at the whole of Central Asia but the Central Asian leaders dismissed the West’s promises of “butter mountains and wine lakes.” Very soon, the Uzbeks realized that they might be used by the West against the CIS and broke away.
In any case, GUAM has never been a political or economic priority for the European capitals but just a kind of a quarantine for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova before their possible admission into the EU. The Europeans would love this period to last forever but everybody knows what their “game” ended in for the biggest GUAM member, Ukraine: instead of “democracy and economic development,” the country has received the bloodshed and chaos of a civil war.
Nevertheless, some external forces keep trying to recover GUAM but their goal is not to help the members to solve their economic, territorial and other problems but to make them even more anti-Russian.
This makes GUAM’s actual goals even less achievable. Secretary General Altay Efendiyev admits that his organization has not realized any specific project so far and keeps holding fruitless discussions on borders, trade and transport.
They in Europe must have long realized the uselessness of GUAM but may be just waiting for the green light from the United States. They have lots of other problems to solve. So, they will obviously let the GUAM members alone in the face of their political, economic and national-territorial problems, which, in their opinion, remain unsettled only because of the plots of their “northern neighbor.”
And it was obviously on the tip from western “democrats” that Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman suggested organizing a GUAM conference in Kiev. The conference is scheduled for February and among its guests will be the prime minister of Kazakhstan. Today, Kazakhstan is actively involved in the Trans-Caspian Energy Consortium and may help GUAM to improve its image in Eurasia but experts doubt that the Kazakhs would like to tie their economic or political interests with such an amorphous anti-Russian structure.
They in the West are well aware of the factors that have prevented GUAM from becoming a strong force in Eurasia. One of them is the character of the regimes ruling in its member states.
Even more, the strategic and economic security of GUAM is strongly dependent on both the Russian and Western factors and so, GUAM will hardly be able to grow into an efficient independent structure, let alone, its ability to have any influence on the strategic situation in Eurasia.
Viktor Barsov, publicist