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GUBAM - mission impossible19.08.2010 | 15:55
Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili supported by his Moldovan counterpart Mihai Gimpu is going to revive GUAM. Mishiko's plan is to take advantage of a temporary strife between Moscow and Minsk and drag Belarus into the almost dead bloc. GeorgiaTimes correspondent asked Russian politologists to assess the strategic idea of Sakartvelo's ruler and its prospects.
GUAM, an international regional organization comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova was established in October 1997. Initially it was GUUAM with Uzbekistan among its members that soon declared withdrawal from the bloc because of its politicization and low efficiency. Creation of GUAM in the post-Soviet space was meant as a counterbalance to Russia's traditional influence in the region.
With time Tbilisi's and Kiev's longing for European integration took the bloc to the background. Rumors appeared that GUAM needs reanimation. Last November Georgia hosted a three-day session of GUAM Parliamentary Assembly with the participants deciding to work out a joint plan of the organization's development. Still, most politicians and experts doubt the alliance's viability.
Firstly, there is absolutely no economic benefit from dubious membership in the organization. For instance, Ukraine's trade turnover with GUAM states is minuscule, and Azerbaijan has geopolitical and trade interests with Russia.
Secondly, after Uzbekistan's secession from the bloc all members have territorial issues. Except for Ukraine. That is why, probably, official Kiev, that is coming closer with Moscow under Viktor Yanukovich's guidance now shows no particular interest in supporting this alliance politically.
The financing issue is also on top of the bloc's agenda. As politologists remark, GUAM's curators in US Department of State resigned or were retired long ago, and Washington is no more interested in the organization. "Another fact is important: this alliance used to rely on relations between Saakashvili and Yushenko, the birds of a feather. One of them is no more a president", - Sergey Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies believes. - That is why GUAM has practically no future".
I think, the nonviable structure would very well die by itself but for interim president of Moldova Mihai Gimpu's recent visit to Georgia. Two politicians, both mad at Russia, have decided to reanimate GUAM and invite Belarus there. Saakashvili-Gimpu's move is understood: they want to take advantage of gas and milk wars plus the delicate issue of Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence recognition and drag Lukashenko into their anti-Russian alliance. Will they succeed?
Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute of CIS countries: "Firstly, it's difficult to call Gimpu a Moldovan leader. From the political point of view, he is living his last days and wants to go on a spree, as they say. It means, Moldova will soon have another president with other views on reanimation of this long-dead union. Saakashvili's plan is to stop isolation on the part of Russia and many other countries - the European Union too, by the way. This is another attempt to jump in the spotlight. Besides, I don't think Lukashenko wants drastic aggravation of relations with Russia as to join in this dead hostile alliance. What's important, GUAM was founded in Washington under curatorship of the States. So neither Tbilisi, nor Kishinev, nor Minsk can decide on further prospects of this alliance. So I believe Saakashvili's and Gimpu's attempts will lead to nothing.
Eugeny Minchenko, director of International Institute for Political Expertise: GUAM is an organization that will hardly be reanimated. It came to life under strict protectorate of the USA as a sanitary belt around Russia. But currently the US administration sets no such task. Accordingly, the supporting shaft has gone. I also believe that after Ukraine's de-facto secession from the organization it will be quite hard to keep it going with new members. The third question is the ideology issue. The core of ideology for Belarus is anti-Nazism and intolerance to collaborationists. For them polizei are traitors and scoundrels. For Georgian and Moldovan authorities collaborationists are heroes. Here Lukashenko can have a serious image problem since starting destroying the ideology in present conditions is highly risky to him.