THE ORGANIZATION FOR DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT—GUAM: A ROAD MAP TO RELEVANCE?
(A View from Georgia with Certain Personal Reflections and Conclusions)
Tedo Japaridze, Ph.D. (Hist.), Alternate Director General, International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) (Athens, Greece)
Preface and Some Preliminary Comments on the History of GUAM
Just over ten years ago, in 1996, the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, deeply concerned over excessive Western concessions to the Russian Federation during the tumultuous and prolonged negotiations on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), on the initiation of Araz Azimov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, gathered at OSCE Headquarters in Vienna. This meeting became the first informal exchange (later this unofficial discourse was transformed into a formal caucus) related to these countries’ common security interests. We can say that the first brick in the foundation of GUAM was laid.
Although the initial steps of activities of this caucus were tense, the issues of the CFE Treaty that prompted those consultations were as much “technical” as strategic; however, these “technicalities” and “numbers on the flanks” mattered a great deal to the independence and sovereignty of those countries.
These were turbulent and tiring nightly plenary sessions and debates concerning the future parameters of the CFE Treaty. Certain common risks and challenges were identified on how to deal not only with the Soviet legacy of conventional arms on the respective national territories in general, but also concrete problems of the CFE flank issues that were supposed to be placed in a so-called quoted regime along the whole perimeter of the former Soviet Union borders, including the sovereign territories of Georgia and Moldova.
One year later, these regular but still informal meetings concerning specific issues were transformed into a more complex and comprehensive package of security problems of mutual interests regarding bilateral (or sub-regional) cooperation, which led the Presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova to transform the existing informal group of experts into an actual and formal Forum with a fancy abbreviation—GUAM.
Thus, the birth date of GUAM—10 November, 1997—was the day of the first presidential summit in Strasbourg when the presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova met during the summit of…………