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Georgia Outlines Priorities at GUAM Summit

Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili has called for increased military-political cooperation among GUAM member states, and in particular, for the establishment of a joint peacekeeping unit.

Speaking in Baku on June 18 at a meeting of foreign ministers from the GUAM member states ? Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova ? Bezhuashvili said that participation in peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN and OSCE would ?further boost the organization?s international status.?

Bezhuashvili, speaking about the security dimension of GUAM cooperation, hailed the member states’ efforts to coordinate policies on tackling separatism.
He said democracy and economic cooperation were two other major priorities for GUAM.

?Development of the democratic process in GUAM member states creates a foundation for our countries? integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures,? Bezhuashvili said.

?The creation of a competitive energy and transport corridor and the harmonization of border and customs procedures should become an important part of economic cooperation, which eventually should help to diversify transit routes for Caspian and Central Asian hydrocarbons via GUAM member states towards Europe,? the Georgian foreign minister added.

Baku is playing host to a two-day high-level GUAM summit on June 18-19.

As well as the foreign ministers? session, the first day also saw a meeting in the framework of the GUAM-U.S. format. The United States has been a strong supporter of GUAM since its inception in 1997.

A GUAM-Japan format meeting was also held on June 18. Unlike the United States, Japan has only recently shown an interest in the organization. Last November, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso called for greater ties with GUAM member states as part of Tokyo?s “arc of freedom and prosperity” initiative.

The presidents of Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Moldova will hold a joint meeting on June 19. The summit will also be attended by the presidents of Poland and Lithuania.

Speaking with Georgian reporters in Baku on June 18, President Saakashvili said that high-level and broad international participation in the summit ?shows that this region is no longer in the position of being oppressed.?

?This is a huge step forward, but we still have a long way to go,? he added.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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